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10 Things My Principal Got Away With

October 2, 2009

About 25 or so years ago, I was working in a clothing store. One of my coworkers was a cute girl who would often tell me how much she hated her father. I would nod, agree that he sounded like a dick, and continue folding jeans while waiting for a chance to ask her out. And then, one day, her father came into the store, and I recoiled. It was my elementary school principal, the terror of my childhood, the most feared person in my small world. I hadn’t seen him since leaving that school in the fourth grade, but all those old feelings came roaring back.

He recognized me after a moment. I said something like “Good to see you again, Mr. Jones (not his real name).” He said “Go ahead and call me Dick (his real name).” I wanted to say “that suits you” but I didn’t, because he still scared me. You know how scary he was? He had ginger hair, thick black eyebrows and a white beard. That just ain’t right.

I was thinking about this again today because I read yet another news article about an educator who went too far. Dick played a big role in my childhood; thinking back, he might have been our gym teacher, too. Or maybe he taught French. I just remember that we spent time with him every day for years, no matter who our teacher was. I was kind of a rotten kid, but really, Dick went too far on a lot of occasions:

  1. He used to slap me on the back of the head if he thought I wasn’t listening.
  2. He had a bad habit of reaching into his plaid polyester pants and scratching his balls when nobody was looking. I notice this kind of stuff. That’s why I’m Weathereye.
  3. He accused me of sneaking into the movie being shown in the gym, and hauled me out, so it was years before I got to see the end of The Shaggy D.A. Thinking back, I might have snuck in.
  4. He once dragged me to the office by the ear — by the EAR — because I wouldn’t stop pretending to be a robot.
  5. When I drew on the carpet with crayon in first grade, he made me try to lick it clean. I am not making that up. He was quite the asshole.
  6. I was getting my Grade 2 ass kicked by three Grade 5 guys, and his solution was to put us all in boxing gloves and have us fight it out, three against one. I probably mouthed off, and I probably deserved it.
  7. He had us fight it out, three against one, on the stage in the gym, in front of the whole school. They got to miss class to watch me defend myself against three bigger kids.
  8. They kicked my ass and cleaned my clock, and he was laughing.
  9. One day in Grade 4, I decided to sneak home at lunchtime because I didn’t like my lunch and wanted the leftover pizza I knew was in the fridge. Once I got there, I decided to just stay home. Dick came to my house. He came to my farkin’ house. I hid under the bed, and fell asleep, and my mother found me later. She was pretty mad that I ate the pizza.
  10. I had a bad rash in an embarrassing place, and he made me drop my pants in the office before agreeing to let me go to the nurse. I should note that this was an open-concept early 70s school, and the office was in full view of the entire world. People still remember this.

Anyway, this was the 1970s. These assholes could get away with that. They can’t anymore. And while I sometimes bemoan the fact that kids today live without fear of their adults, Dick went too far. I think a lot of my issues can be traced back to that asshole.

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