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Court Jester: The Making of a Comedian - Excerpt

February 24, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 150


I didn't last long in public school in the second grade. After the first two months, they called my parents in for a conference and suggested they put me into Catholic School. I'm not sure I remember why. I don't recall being so disruptive that I was being asked to leave. Maybe they knew about me pooping in my pants and didn't want that kind of element in their school. Maybe they thought it was contagious and they needed me to go before it spread to the other children. If they let me stay, who knows what could happen? Maybe the whole second grade starts to shit in their pants every day just because Sweeney did it. So they sent me to the Catholic school thinking that the nuns may have more luck curbing me and my activities. That, of course, was not to be. Sister Mary Charlotte and Sister Mary Henry, I'm sure never forgot me. I have certainly not forgotten them. Sister Mary Henry was the principal and Sister Mary Charlotte was my teacher. I lasted two years at St. Joe's. Then, it seems, my parents got called in for another conference. They wanted to put me back in the public schools. Let's take a look at why.

August 1966 - April 1967

I averaged all B's and C's except in handwriting where it was F's across the board. I never did do very well with the penmanship thing. I guess I figured if they couldn't read it, they would never know what I had written. It also becomes apparent I didn't have that much interest in Catholic Doctrine, Science, Social Studies or English, either. The comments on the conduct were always the most interesting, anyway. My first real nemesis, Sister Mary Charlotte, she and I went toe to toe. Here are her remarks for Mark Sweeney, 2nd grader.

"Mark needs improvement in the following areas."

Plays well with others Shows respect for authority Follows directions Listens effectively Uses free time wisely

You know, that sounds strangely like my 1st grade teacher. How about something new? Can you do that for me? Again with these "others." Enough I say.

Quarter one

"Mark's energy is sometimes a handicap. He only contributes to Show and Tell when he wants to. He knows his reading words, but doesn't raise his hand to let me know it. He has a tendency to be disruptive. I hope this will improve next semester."

Maybe, Sister, just maybe, I don't want to share my reading words. I find them personal and private. I'll share them when I'm ready. This also sounds like 1st grade. I didn't share my reading words then either, and I guess I really didn't like show and tell. Why? I have no idea; it seems like it would be a lot of fun. I don't know what it was with sharing reading words either. I don't really think I considered them personal and private, I just didn't want to do what they told me to. I honestly don't know where this defiance came from. My father was a fairly strict disciplinarian. Defiance at home would get you an ass whippin'. I didn't get away with much at home, but on the road, on the road, baby, I flourished.

Quarter Two

"I fear Mark isn't controlling his energy. He has not been doing well in his workbook. He only does the assignments he wants to. I feel he has the ability to be near the top of the class, if he just hands in his papers. He had no respect for authority, and can be very disruptive. I hope this will improve next semester." Here's another teacher hoping that "this will improve next semester." It didn't. I don't really remember being that disrespectful; I mean, it was a long time ago. I just never liked having people tell me what to do. I'll survey the information, make my own decision and go from there. If I don't feel this assignment is necessary, let the "others" do it. I'm busy.

Quarter Three

"Mark has done much better this quarter with his comprehension and his reading words. He could be one of my best students. Mark's biggest obstacle is his attitude. Mark only participates in what interests him. He can be very hard to control and shows defiance to anyone in authority. I hope this will improve next semester."

Wow. I must have been a little shit. Showing defiance to anyone in authority? Even then. What a dickens. Am I really only in 2nd grade? I'm surprised at how many comments the good sister made that were also made by Mrs. Enke, maybe all teachers had a list of words to describe certain types of behavior. Hmm.

Quarter Four

"Mark will be ready for third grade next semester. I hope he has a good summer." That was it for me and Sister Mary Charlotte. I find it interesting the way she refers to "my energy." It was a very PC way to say "I don't like this kid and can't wait to get rid of him." I'm still just like this sweet little guy. I'm still not participating in things that don't interest me.

Sister Mary Henry, the principal, used to have this weapon, (and it was a weapon, I don't care how many times she called it her "measuring stick") it was five or six yard sticks screwed together. Each yard stick was a different color. And when she swung that thing, you could see colored trails. She could move that thing impressively too. She had to have been 70 then. She was fast, but as it turns out, not quite fast enough. Her big thing was to have you hold your hands out, and she would try and smack them. The problem was I couldn't just leave them out there, and I kept yanking them back - a little game she never much cared for. She'd swing and I'd retreat my hands, she'd swing and I'd pull back. Oh we butted heads, Sister Mary Henry and I, and she was indeed a worthy adversary. My parents sent me to Catholic School to be disciplined by nuns. At the beginning of third grade my parents received this letter from the School Board.

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Sweeney;

As you know, Sister Mary Charlotte was Mark's teacher last year. This year she is teaching third grade. Mark has again been assigned to Sister Mary Charlotte's class. Unfortunately, she has requested that Mark be assigned to another class. I realize that you know Sister Mary Charlotte and have become fond of her, but due to the circumstances, we feel it may be best that Mark attend Mrs. Johnson's class. If you have any questions, please feel free to call.

Sincerely; Sister Mary Henry

How's that for a piece of work? I was only in the second grade and she wanted me transferred. That's just plumb mean. I was a child, for God's sake. What kind of scar did they think that would leave me with? Or did they even take that into consideration? Oh, this poor child, he's a wild one, let's ostracize him. Apparently he's not good enough for the nuns, let's send him off to Mrs. Johnson's class. I got sent to the one civilian teacher in the district. It was the class that met in the cellar with all the other mutants. We learned by candle light, were fed gruel, took time each day to clean each other of lice and other body mites and were let in and out of the school through the secret basement door. Nice.

I never actually knew of the letter until recently, so no worries, no scars. Except the ones that are forming now. Third grade was pretty much a repeat of second grade except it was the first time I saw puke in the hall. I was on my way to the principal's office, and there was a circle of it on the floor with that sawdust shit the janitors threw on top of it. It masked what it was visually, but you could still smell it. Gross. I always think of that moment when I see a janitor, I picture him putting that sawdust shit on the puke pile of a second grader. I don't think I was cut out for the whole Catholic School thing. I never got off on the uniforms. It was a little too bizarre, all these kids walking around quietly through the halls, all wearing the same clothes. You could almost hear a smooth, heavy machine noise buried deep in the basement driving the whole thing. Like from Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here Album. "Welcome my son, welcome to the machine."

Here are Mrs. Johnson's remarks for me in my third year of higher learning.

First Quarter 3rd Grade

"Mark makes minimum effort to achieve. He only seems to do enough to get by. He has been working and playing well with others. His biggest problem is he disobeys school regulations frequently, and disrupts the class on a daily basis."

Hey, toots, maybe I just didn't think the school regulations were worth following. Unless I think a rule or regulation is a good one, I don't follow it. I'm still that way. I only obey the laws I think are good ones. So there.

Second Quarter

"Mark is still doing as little as possible. When he does the work, he does it very well, it's just infrequent. He seems to get along with others very well and he has many friends. He still disobeys anyone with authority, and seems to enjoy the disruption."

I guess with my whole "respecting authority" thing I wouldn't be becoming a cop. I don't remember much about this lady, but I know she had short hair. I'll always remember Sister Mary Charlotte and Mary Henry, but this lady didn't stick with me. Hmm.

Third Quarter

"Mark still doesn't seem to be fitting in with the regulations here at St. Joseph's. He disobeys school regulations constantly. He spends a great deal of time in Sister Mary Henry's office."

That's because Sister Mary Henry and I are buds and I like to visit her frequently to ensure that's she's alright.

Fourth Quarter

"Marks' grades have improved greatly. His respect for authority has not. He disrupts class on a daily basis, and doesn't seem to mind. He tries very hard, but only when he's doing the things he likes to do. I truly hope that this improves over the summer. He is a very independent child."

As it turns out, I had a real problem remembering my prayers and remembering truths, which are two very important things in the Catholic Doctrine. We had to go to mass every day, which was actually just another arena for entertaining. You fill a large room with groups of first, second and third graders and discipline was hard to come by. There are just too many moments of quiet for me, almost uncomfortable quiet. A little fart noise was always a crowd pleaser. Plus, I could never figure out why we had to go to church every day. Didn't we just do this yesterday?

Source: EzineArticles
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