Yeah. . .
I was T H A T kid.
I wasn’t very good in school. . .
I didn’t like it. . .
I don’t know if it much liked me, either. . .
I went there to play sports
and when sports went away,
I used it for a true means
to an e n d. . .
I learned to beat it
M O R E
than it beat me.
I learned to overcome it’s shame
and D E G R A D I N G G R A D E S. . .
When I was in 6th grade we had just moved again;
It was the third school I had been in 6 years. . .
In retrospect. . .
it really made me the extrovert,
people-person I am today. . .
but it was tough, t h e n. . .
Our teacher was Old School
in an n e w school. . .
She believed in motivating through humiliation;
When you took a test
she let everyone know what S C O R E
they received by
Calling out your name
and putting your paper on the desk. . .
but just not any desk;
We had five rows of them. . .
She started by calling out the names
of all those who had received
by putting them on the row of desks in the fifth row;
were the Fourth Row;
right in the middle;
in the Second Row
and with drum roll anticipation
and great Pomp
T h e A’s
were reserved for T H A T
First Row. . .
Yes, I can finally write about it now. . .
I landed not just in the Fifth Row,
but most of the time,
the last or next to the last seat in the Fifth Row. . .
H-U-M-L-L-I-A-T-E-D–N O T
m o t i v a t e d !
And then I found a way out:
E X T R A C R E D I T !
We walked to school,
which was a half of a block away
and went home for lunch. . .
I would hurry home
and eat lunch and then hurry back to school
so that I could grab the Encyclopedias
and come up with a 3-5 minute talk
about some interesting facts
of what we were studying in Geography;
I didn’t discover my voice. . .
I literally ascertained that my mouth,
the mouth that had been washed out several times with soap,
that got sent to bed countless times for
‘s a s s i n g,’
that mouth which could convince
my brothers and sister
out of their favorite Halloween or Easter candy,
belongs in a Circus—
all T h r e e – R i n g s !
I did what everyone else hated to do:
T a l k
in front of the class room,
three days a week,
following our lunch break. . .
I’d tell them about the importing and exporting business
in Peru or Rio or Guam;
Told them about climates and what grew best in the soil;
What Winter’s or Fall’s were like;
I told them what the favorite hobbies
or past-time’s were in those locales and
I K E P T F A I L I N G T E S T S. . .
But I kept moving up Rows. . .
From the F’s
to the D’s
to the C’s
to the B’s
and finally. . .
I was sitting in the last seat of the
because of a mouth that couldn’t be quieted or
D E – G R A D E D !
I remember one afternoon,
going in before school resumed
again after lunch
and working on another Extra Credit talk
while S H E
was sitting at her desk grading papers
to a test we had just taken that morning;
“You found a way, didn’t you,” she asked me?
I looked up from the Encyclopedia that I was reading,
getting ready for my next talk. . .
“You found a way of passing while failing, didn’t you?”
“Well, it’s a good thing, because this test you just took would have landed you back in the last seat of the Fourth Row.”
I didn’t say or do anything, because I couldn’t look away from her.
She smiled and said,
“Congratulations. Well done, Mr. Behrens. You have found a way out of the way and I believe it will serve you well.”
Hmmmmmmmmmmmm. . .
I haven’t stopped smiling—–
y e t. . .
T A L K I N G. . .