Teen-aged Deana Strikes Again
First, a disclaimer. Let me assure you that I have been an unbelievably honest person my entire adult life. I’ve left stores without paying for things on the bottom rack of my cart because I forgot they were there. And I have always marched right back inside to pay for them. I have corrected cashiers who have mistakenly tried to give me too much change. I even found a $20 bill on a street in my neighborhood one day in 2005 and took it directly to our church to contribute it to the tsunami relief fund. I’m certainly not perfect and I have my weaknesses, but I am not dishonest. Making stuff up and passing it off as truth is just not part of who I am.
But there was a day long ago that it was. That was the day all honesty flew right out the window into the refinery-scented air of a town called Beaumont, Texas. I was a junior at Beaumont Christian High School in the spring of 1988. I had a teacher who I will call Mr. ZXCVBNM for the sake of this story. I liked Mr. ZXCVBNM at first. He was a nice guy and told funny stories. But we students soon realized Mr. ZXCVBNM was out to get us. He was almost obsessed with finding reasons to give kids detention. His big hang-up was candy and/or gum. If you had your purse open and he glanced inside and saw a pack of gum, you got detention. If he could prove you had any kind of candy or gum on your person, you got detention. If you had Skittles at lunch and were just chewing up the last mouthful on your way to his class, you had better swallow it before you walk through the door because, believe me, you were getting detention.
One day our class had gone to study hall in the library. I was sitting on the floor with some friends and we were studying. One friend offered me one of those jumbo cinnamon-flavored gummy bears. It was still in its wrapper and I was going to save it for later. But I was in the middle of writing something down when my friend handed it to me, so I rested it on my knee until I could get to the end of my sentence to put it up.
But I didn’t move quickly enough. Mr. ZXCVBNM walked by, saw the gummy bear, and I was busted. But instead of detention this time, he had another idea. Handing me a razor blade, he told me to scrape all the dried-up gum from underneath all the chairs and tables in the library.
Naturally, I was not happy about this. As I sat under a table scraping off wads of gum, something occurred to me. This teacher had just handed me a razor blade. If I were to somehow accidentally hurt myself with it, he could get in big trouble.
Now for another disclaimer. I was not a cutter. No one even knew what that was back then. In those days, the most self-destructive thing I had a habit of doing was skipping a couple of meals on Friday so I could slide into my super-tiny Guess jeans for a date on Saturday. And that was out of sheer vanity. (Oh, how I loved those Guess jeans. I’ll blog about them later in my “Clothes That Changed My Life” blog series.)
So this was not the self-mutilation you read about. This was simply vengeance. Situated beneath a table and out of everyone’s sight, I sawed back and forth on my left thumb until I had a pretty convincing three-inch long cut. I placed the cut strategically because my story was going to be that my right hand slipped while I was scraping and cut my left hand. I got it looking the way I wanted it, said nothing about it at school, went home and showed my dad what had happened.
That’s all it took. My dad freaked. He called the school. Didn’t they know I was in my ninth year of piano? Didn’t they know I was considering a college career in music? What if I had cut a tendon? What kind of teacher hands a kid a razor blade?
So yes, Mr. ZXCVBNM got in trouble. He even pulled me out of class the next day and yelled at me for getting him in trouble. And he didn’t even know the cut was not an accident.
I waited until the guy got fired (the year after I graduated, he got caught in the locker room in a compromising position with a 16-year-old girl) before I told my parents what I had done. By then, everyone was so disgusted with him that my parents really didn’t care.
Yes, I did a bad thing. But do I feel bad about it? Not really. I feel worse about not feeling bad about it, if that makes any sense.
And I still don’t think teachers should give kids razor blades.