“The Big Decision”
It was hard to remember a time when I had been more pissed off, or even a time in my life when I wanted to hit something more than I did at this moment. I was still seething inside as I walked the eight miles home from high school for the last time on that warm day in 1966. I say it was the last time because I was coming fresh from a fight with my high school Principal; my nerves were still on edge simply because I had wanted to deck him so badly, but you can’t hit an old man and feel justified about it. Hell, it wasn’t like it was the first time I had ever been sent to the principal’s office, I had gotten used to that, but I was determined it would be my last. I was sent to his office, this time, from shop class because I had rigged a piece of lumber in the lathe so it would fling out at the shop teacher when he turned it on. I think that action got a laugh out of the class but the shop teacher was far from amused so it earned me a trip to the principal’s office. The difference was, this time the principal told me he ‘would have to paddle me’ because it was such a ‘serious offense,’ and someone could have been hurt badly by the flying piece of wood. He then took a rather large paddle from behind his desk and came at me with a look of almost delight in his eyes, as if hitting students made his day. I, right there and then, decided that no one was ever going to lay a hand on me. I bit my lip, turned my head, balled my right hand into a fist and mustering up all the inner strength of a 17 year old boy, I defiantly said: “If you touch me with that damn paddle, I’ll break it over your fucking head.” Suddenly the principal stopped in his tracks, probably stunned by the language. Small town Indiana nice kids weren’t supposed to talk like that, not that I cared how I talked. I had always been what they called a rebel in those days anyway and I admit I had a problem with authority figures. He suddenly stopped, lowered the paddle and looked at me through squinted eyes and said: “What did you just say?” I replied: “You heard what I said,” in an angry voice. Then he told me I would have to be suspended for three days. I lowered my head and mumbled something about how it was going to be the longest three days he would ever see and with that, I slammed out of his office, walked through the big glass doors, away from the building, never once looking back. That son of a bitch sure didn’t need to tell me twice. I knew I was never going back to that school. Shit, I really hated school anymore anyway. Lately school had lost all meaning for me; I had become restless and failed to see any reason for continuing high school. I knew my parents were not going to be real happy about this, but I just didn’t care right now.