Tuesday, September 9, 2008

More Dumb Times at Dorsey High

Here's some more recollections from good ol' Susan Miller Dorsey High..

Keith Honda, Kurtis Kobayashi and I used to torture Benjamin, a 19-year-old Turkish guy in Mr. Newcomb's 10th grade geometry class. Especially Keith. Mr. Newcomb looked like Elmer Fudd and he would become totally exasperated at the feuding that took place.

Benjamin was the only one we knew with a heavy five o'clock shadow in our one o'clock class. I think that's what triggered the feud.

"Hey Benjamin, how old are you, anyway?" Keith asked him.

"Eet ees not for you to know, my leetle man," Benjamin snapped back. "Eet ees none of your beezness."

"What's up with you?" Keith retorted, taking offense that Benjamin had taken offense at his innocent question. Well, not so innocent, since it was curiosity about his heavy facial growth that inspired him to ask in the first place. After that exchange, things deteriorated.

"Hey Benjamin," Keith would whisper, "do you walk home or take your flying carpet?"

"Look, leetle man, I am have to hurt you bad," Benjamin sneered while Elmer wrote geometric proofs and theorems on the chalkboard. "And the both of you, too!" He pointed menancingly at Kurtis and me.

"Benjamin, please stop that," said a weary Mr. Newcomb, turning around.

"But Meester Newcomb! He started eet! Tell heem, not me!!"

"What are you talking about?" an innocent Keith would snap back, pointing at himself and looking innocent like a basketball player who just got whistled for a foul he supposedly hadn't committed.

Elmer sighed. Hahahahahahahaha. Then he turned to continue writing. Benjamin leaned toward Keith, scowling and pointing his finger at him while mouthing threats.


"I told you!" Keith yelled out. "See Mr. Newcomb? He's picking on me!"

"Will you both stop that?!?"

"Meester Newcomb!"


It didn't last all semester because Benjamin dropped out and we never saw him after that. That could be one reason for the tense relations between the U.S. and Middle East, however.

One afternoon Mrs. Sherman, my trig teacher, really let me have it. We had just settled in for the beginning of another day of trig, and for me another period of clock watching.

"Rickie!" The whole class turned to stare at me. I jumped up. I'd never heard her shout so loud. I sat paralyzed, wondering what I had done.

"I don't want you writing on the desk anymore, do you understand?"

Everyone was still staring at me like I was a war criminal; I was bright red and sweating, too shocked to reply.

"Is that clear?? Do you understand??"

"Yes," I meekly replied, while everyone continued to stare. Mrs. Sherman let the point sink in and then began the day's trig lesson.

Dennis Yokotake sat at the same desk in the morning session of her class and we'd write notes to each other. I guess Mrs. Sherman didn't approve of that practice. When we compared notes, he'd gotten the same treatment from her that morning.

Moving on to more pleasant days in my life, I spent a couple of semesters helping Mrs. Buccola, one of the counselors. She was laid-back and cool, the kind of person that treated students as people, rather than vice versa. Helping her in the office was an easy "A" - doing clerical work, running errands, often just sitting around doing nothing.

Denise Chin also helped Mrs. Buccola during one of those semesters. Working with her turned into a game of one-upsmanship as we tried to get each other's goat. She liked to tease me and I'd try and reciprocate.

One day I found out her middle name was "Lee." I thought I had her on that one. "Why is your middle name 'Lee?'" I asked. "Lee is a boy's name. You're a boy in disguise?" Haha, I laughed at her.

Then she told me that "Lee" had been her parent's last name in China but when they came to this country they changed it to "Chin." She tried to explain why but I didn't really understand what she was saying. However, I was thinking, hmph, I thought I had her and I come out looking the dumb one. So I told her simply, "yeah, you're just making that up." Then she proceeded to tell me no, really, that was what happened and she explained it again although I still didn't get it. I believed her but I continued giving her a hard time about it.

One day she got me. Mrs. Buccola was in and out of her office with various errands and meetings, leaving Denise and me to peck at each other. She sat there grinning at me one morning until I finally asked her what was so funny.

"Robbie (Karatsu) told me something about you last night when he gave me a ride to the Knights and Ladies banquet. Ooh, you are naughty. Tch tch." Knights and Ladies was an honor society which had no part of me.

"What did he say?" I was genuinely curious. I don't know what he could have told her that was so scandalous.

"I can't tell you, but I'm shocked. I didn't know you were like that."

After ten minutes of prying, I managed to get this out of her: "He said you're obsessed with something."

Naturally, she refused to tell me what my obsession was. This went on for another half an hour or so and I was determined to find out what Rob had said. Finally she spilled the beans after much begging and pleading on my part, as well as a promise to not get mad.

"He told me you're obsessed with girls who have big chests!"

"What??!?" Where'd he get that from, and furthermore, how did something like that come up in their conversation?

Denise gave me a "shame on you, naughty boy" look and now it was my turn to look like a basketball player who just got whistled for a non-existent foul. I was dumbfounded.

"I, I.." Stuttering and sputtering I knew not how to respond to her statement one, because it's not something that comes up in normal conversation and two and the biggest reason, it wasn't true. I couldn't believe Rob said that to her.

"Tch, tch. I'm really surprised at you."

"That's not true! I never said anything like that!"

"Why would Robbie lie? He told me the bigger the better." Her blackmailing grin got even wider.

"Well really, I'm telling you the truth, I never said that to him. That's not even what I think. I'm not kidding." And it wasn't. I mean, some guys do and some don't, sort of like checking those options or preferences in the tool menu of a Microsoft Office application and that's the way it is, but Rob had some nerve telling people things that weren't even true. "If anything, he's the one with the infatuation!"

"Sure. Uh huh."

I spent a lot of time trying to convince her and in the end I don't know if I did or not. I left Mrs. Buccola's office feeling like a pervert. Guess who I went looking for as soon as school let out for the day?

"What are you telling Denise Chin about me?? She said you told her that I like girls with big boobs!"

"You do," he laughed.

"I never said that! Where did you get that idea??" Then Rob proceeded to outline his if a=b and b=c and c=d then d=a logic except it was fatally flawed. I never said or implied anything like that, case closed. "You'd better go and tell her that isn't true!" I demanded.

But he had the same smug smile as Denise. I don't know if he ever retracted what he said but like in politics, once something is said and is published, the retraction is given short shrift, buried in the back of the paper somewhere.

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