Thursday, March 3, 2011

the bad teacher BLOW OFF

Let's talk teachers. Even though those bitches get summers off and have love affairs with seventeen year old boys who kill their husbands, I'm pretty amazed by all their hard work (some of them are personal friends). I know that if I even attempted their jobs for one day, I would drown in a puddle of my own saliva after having three seizures in a row, while a group of second graders took pictures of me with their camera phones. That said, I'm still a little weirded out that people my age are teachers. Why? Because it makes me feel old. I mean, it wasn't all that long ago that I was tossing and turning from insomnia the night before a new school year...wondering if I'd picked the right first impression outfit (Note to my seventh grade self. The beige plaid blazer with the matching beige plaid headband from Gap Kids is not a good look for the first day of junior high. Shop at Wet Seal. Trust.)

So, now that we're the same age as some of our old teachers, it got me reflecting. I had some good teachers in my lifetime. Some bad ones. Some boring ones. Some mean ones. But no one quite made an impact like Mr. K, my sixth grade teacher. He was BAT SHIT CRAZY.

Mr. K was 30 when he taught sixth grade, which makes him the same age as I am now. I was eleven then and I had everything going for me. Class President. Plaid was still in style. Zits hadn't taken over my whole face yet. I had a crush on a boy that would eventually seal our love with an ID bracelet. I was as confident as Angelina Jolie. Yes, it was the year I peaked. I also was in the "cool" sixth grade class with the "cooler" teacher.

Mr. K was funny. He got my sarcasm. He wore a button down with jeans and a tie everyday. Three guys in our class dressed up like him for Halloween. He had a cute girlfriend named Denise that may or may not have been his beard. He had a cute roommate named Phil that may or may not have been his boyfriend. He taught me things. Like that Fried Green Tomatoes was about lesbians and not about besties.

He taught us about Egypt and bought us dolls to mummify in class. He took us on an archaeological dig. Everyday after lunch, he made us watch a slide show of ourselves set to the song "One Moment in Time" by the late great Whitney Houston. (I know she's not dead, but part of her died a long time ago.) We played an epic April Fool's joke on him when we convinced the principal to tell him he was fired. She revealed it was an April Fool's joke on the loud speaker. I cried on the last day of school, because I was going to miss Mr. K so much. I even went back occasionally to visit him when I was in junior high. And then, he abruptly left the school and we heard he was fired. We never knew why and no one ever heard from him since. It was the mystery BLOW OFF.

It wasn't until I was an adult that I realized there were some things about Mr. K that were a little off. Every time I would see friends from grade school we'd commiserate about it. Like the time he told us he had a dream we were all at summer camp and that he and I were dating and were trying to sneak away the whole time (presumably so we could make out? I was eleven!) Or the time he told us he and Phil used a hot tub that had such high levels of chlorine in it that it burned their scrotums. (I was like "what's a scrotum?") or the time he told us some really intense story about his girlfriend attacking him, because she thought he was cheating on her. We were on pins and needles when he got all choked up and said after their fight he got a call from the hospital about Denise...but before he finished, he left the classroom and walked around in the yard for what seemed like hours while we all panicked inside. Was Denise dead? Did she kill herself? Isn't this too much for eleven year old's to process? He finally came back and revealed that what we just witnessed was a plot device known as a "cliffhanger" which was part of our lesson plan for that day. The whole story was made up. Um, if I wanted to know what a cliffhanger was, I'd just watch a soap opera on a Friday.

Anyway. We always wondered what happened to Mr. K and while he was a borderline weirdo, he did teach us a lot (to this day, the song One Moment in Time gives me chills). For awhile there was a sad rumor going around that he died of AIDS. But last year, someone uncovered this article off the internet and circulated it to a bunch of us, and we all agreed it had to be the same Mr. K. After all, the names were exact. He drove a motorcycle. He was a teacher in California. He was bat shit crazy. Check out the link to see what potentially became of teach...


  1. wow. did you ever tell mom and dad about the summer camp dream?? that's definitely not normal. Mr K had no friends and looked to his students to fill that void IMO

  2. He was a real weird dude. Only us on the oustide (in the other 6th grade class of misfits) realized that. He hated my guts...Ah 6th grade was awesome.

  3. That newspaper story was poorly written. On another note, teachers shouldn't hit on students until the 8th grade. That's just weird.

  4. ok, i was in the same class with you...and i also remember him as one of my favorite teachers of all know, there was something slightly manic about him...and he definitely didnt act "professional"...but that was why we liked him so much...

    i find myself sorta feeling bad for him...i mean, i dont think he identified very well with people his own age...and i think they took him a lot more seriously than he really was...honestly, he was probably ADHD or BiPolar...

    i think i may have found his facebook...

  5. btw. i found another article from later mentioned that he lived in Long Beach but was no longer living in SoCal...

    the one i found...lives in SF now and the pic certainly could be him...he did always have a really red face...his interests are all over the place (like i said...manic)...

    i think he moved away to make a fresh start...

  6. never mind - thats not his facebook after mentions living in SF since 2000...cant be our guy... about cliffhanger, i wanna know what happened to him after that school fiasco!

  7. that did look like an older version of him though. and i agree Lisa, he was a great teacher in a lot of ways and probably was struggling with some sort of mental illness. i am so curious what became of him!

  8. You're a fucking idiot.

  9. I'm most saddened by the firing of the principal.

    Anonymous, reveal yourself.

  10. anonymous, don't you think it's a little sad that you read my blog?

  11. You definitely have a crush on us.