THE SONIC BOOMER
When I was young, I was one of the “good kids” in school — always raised my hand, didn’t chit-chat with the kids seated near me and would never dream of looking over at someone else’s paper. As I grew up, I came to understand that such behavior is considered anti-social in the adult world, and what you want to do is speak up, chit-chat with those around you and share information.
Adults even have a name for it — “networking.” It took me years to learn to network and even longer to unlearn my bad behavior, but none of that has anything to do with my story.
What I am trying to say is that we “good kids” wasted a lot of time staying after school because of something one of the “bad kids” did. Back then, the teacher was at liberty to disrupt bus schedules, after-school sports and parents waiting impatiently in cars if it helped make her point. So she would announce imperiously that everyone in the class was “staying after” until the guilty spitball launcher or rude noisemaker came forward. “I have all night,” she’d threaten, and then the minutes on the clock would tick slowly by.
I don’t know if you’ve ever been kept after school, but when you’re a teenager, eight minutes truly seems an eternity.
About 10 minutes in, even if she hadn’t yet had any luck shaming the young thug into an admission of guilt, the teacher would then start calling the names of the kids she was pretty sure didn’t even know how to make a spitball. “Carolyn, Lois, Debbie… you may leave,” and I would mercifully be released. Oh, that first grateful breath of freedom!
Then disaster happened.
One crisp fall day shortly after I’d had braces put on my teeth, as the clock slowly approached the magical dismissal time of 3:15 p.m., I yawned widely and — horror of horrors! — one of the tiny rubber bands that linked my upper braces to my lowers came loose and went zinging toward the front of the classroom. As I watched in disbelief, it proceeded to hone in on the teacher’s chest area and then — yes! — snapped her in the very worst place.
Her face went red, she began sputtering and then the dreaded announcement that we were all staying after and that she “had all night!”
I spent the next 10 minutes reviewing my Sunday school lessons to determine if saying nothing was lying. Fortunately, there was a serious gap in my education where “a lie by omission” should’ve been. So when she inevitably released Carolyn, Lois and myself — out the door I went.
As for the “bad kids,” let them sort it out. I had been kept after school enough because of their antics. I don’t even feel guilty about it.
You can tell because I am bringing it up decades and decades later.