I can't watch the first movie without putting into context with the year it came out and we went to see it in the theater.
That year was supposed to be a good year. I had finally grabbed the holy grail. I had one World History class. I had taught 7th and 8th grade language arts, worked my way up to 9th and 10th grade language arts, government, U.S. History and now finally had the class I've always wanted to teach in the regular school year. I had taught World in Summer School so I'd be ready when the time came. Instead it was a LONG BAD HAIR YEAR.
It was the second year that the Principle nit-picking everything I did. The year before in the teacher's lounge, Larry, an older teacher could see how distressed I was after a brutal evaluation. He looked at me with sympathy and offered the best advise I ever received. He said, "Just remember you're permanent, she's temporary."
He spent part of that year in the hospital with a heart attack. When he got back the aforesaid Principle called him into her office and wanted him to take a classroom management class because while he was in the hospital his students (behavior disordered special ed) had misbehaved for the substitute. It was also nice to know I wasn't the only teacher she was digging her nine inch nails into.
As the bad hair school year started:
- one of my students was shot in the mouth during a drug bust just three weeks after giving birth.
- A male assistant principle was placed on paid administrative leave for sexual harassment, and the head Mistress tried to fire with falsified evaluation papers in retaliation another teacher I considered friend. The assistant principle did not have his contract renewed the next year. At the hearing to terminate my friend he was smart enough to have kept the copy of his evaluation paper and proved the grounds for his termination to be false. He returned to his teaching duties, but greatly subdued, and the Principle chastened. We all scratched our heads over the whole process as he wasn't the one who brought the charges. He had only celebrated the news a little too loudly in the main hallway.
- Then one morning as I arrived at my box to get mail the other teachers were in tears. Larry was out in his garden the evening before, suffered a heart attack and passed away. The longest day of teaching I've ever endured.
Depression is a deceptive state of mind while at the time you don't always realize you have it. I had trouble sleeping, was moody and withdrawn, stayed in my classroom during lunch instead of eating in the teacher's lounge. It was pre-Prilosec and my acid reflux was at its worst. I was feasting on Pepsid and Rolaids. At my fall evaluation I got pissed off enough to ask the dragon lady if I would be holding a sign on Central Avenue the next year that read "Will Teach for Food". I'm pretty sure Grinnygranny worried about me, and to her Saintly credit stuck by me. The children didn't have much of a choice all they knew was that Daddy was very cranky.
Then around the first of December we went to see The Addam's Family. It was funny, irreverent, black humor. Gomez walking up to Morticia and asking "Are you miserable, darling?'
She smiles sensuously and says, "Yes."
Christina Ricci as Wednesday strapping Pugsly into an electric chair telling him that they're playing a game called "Is there a God?" delivered with such a wickedly serious expression on her round, large eyed pale skinned face. Without realizing it I was laughing most likely for the first time in months. By the end of the movie it was as if a great weight had lifted from my shoulders. Walking out of the theater I looked at Grinnygranny and said "I needed that!"
Suddenly all the dread and grief was lifted. Somehow it gave me serenity. I can't explain it, it just did. Laughter can truly be the best medicine.
- The drama with the Principle's and my friend continued to the end of the school year.
- The day before the Student/faculty basketball game (which I had been practicing and getting into shape the previous month) I closed the car door on our cat's tail. When I tried to open the door it bit me on my hand so I had to watch the game instead of playing in it with a bandage as big as a tennis racket.
- At my Spring evaluation the Principle finally came out with why she was raking me over the coals. She didn't think I was doing enough extra-curricular duties. When I explained that I was sponsor of Youth and Government and the Rodeo club it was like night and day. From that point on I was her fair haired boy. I then took over as our department's representative on the Governing Council. She faced one pissed off Union Rep every month when the council met.
- During spring break a star football player and homecoming Queen were at a party, a fight ensued over the homecoming Queen and the football player killed another person at the party. Numerous students and faculty members were called as character witnesses during his sentencing.
- Two weeks before school ended one of our female students was raped and murdered.
I've never wanted a school year to be over so much before or since. What I do know is that the only thing that kept me sane that year was watching this movie.