Friday, December 4, 2009

Kayfabe



"You're some rude!" That's what she used to say. We probably were, by any definition of the word, exactly that. But when you're a class full of kids from the scabby part of town, the kind of kids that wrestle at recess and pack rocks in their snowballs at lunch, "rude" isn't a word that carries much weight.

Missus Walters (I almost feel bad for the old bag thinking about it now) should've been teaching at a prep school, or at least a place where telling the kids you'd call home on them was a threat. She was a washed out nun who sang louder than anyone else in church, one of those high and mighty types who got on as though she'd never done anything wrong in her life. God only knows what she did to deserve us.

Jimmy Coady was the kid in the class who usually got the worse of her wrath. I can remember her grabbing him out of his chair and then picking his desk up over her head and shaking it until all his books and papers showered down onto the floor, a punishment for being disorderly. She'd send him to the principal, or make him stand in the hall, or get up and sing in front of the class, as though any of this was going to curb his behavior. And always with that catch phrase: "You're some rude!"

It happened that in this same strange time in our lives there was a new champion crowned in the World Wrestling Federation, "Ravishing" Rick Rude. His signature move was to put his hands behind his head and swivel his hips and ass when his opponent was down for the count, like he was pure sex and mockery. We all thought this was great, the ultimate humiliation, and of course it was only natural that we'd pretend Missus Walters was the one who'd been body slammed.

I remember one day when Missus Walters was in full effect and she called Jimmy rude for what must have been the tenth time that day. She turned her back to write something on the board and Jimmy stood up on his chair and did Rick Rude's move. All the kids saw him do it, but I think they were too surprised to react. I was the only one who laughed. (I admit it. I laughed.)

She turned around just as Jimmy got back into his seat and she stared at me, at my big dumb grin. She stormed down the aisle and up to my desk, and before I knew it she slapped me across the face, one of those open-handed zingers -- WHACK!

"Go to the principals office!" she yelled. "And if I hear a peep out of the rest of you, you'll be following him."

My eyes welled up as I left the room.

When I got home that evening my father asked me what happened -- though it was fairly obvious from the welt on my cheek that an adult-sized hand had slapped me. He called the school the next morning and said that I wouldn't be coming back. From my bedroom upstairs I could hear him shouting into the phone (I'd never heard words like that from my father before). It was the last I saw of the place, and the next week I was enrolled in a non-denominational school in the city.

========================

Post Script

Missus Walters opted to take an early retirement package the same year I left. She still goes to church and sings louder than anyone else.

Jimmy Coady was locked up in the Whitbourne Correctional Facility for Boys in 1995 after a spate of shoplifting incidents. Jimmy was released in 1997 and was arrested later that same year for assaulting a kid in his neighborhood with a bat. He was sentenced to three years in Her Majesties Penitentiary. I have no idea where he is today.

"Ravishing" Rick Rude died of arteriosclerotic heart disease in 1999. He was 41 years old.

22 comments:

bard said...

Great story, and great writing as usual. Very powerful.

Francis Scudellari said...

I remember Rick Rude, although I didn't know he'd died so young. I admit I busted out a big smile when I read the description of Jimmy up on that desk too, so I'm sure I would have gotten slapped too.

Famous Last Words said...

A great story and I enjoyed your post script too! That was incredible your Dad hauled you out of school - good for him! Have to say I had a chuckle when I found out mrs. Walters opted for early retirement - sounds like she needed it from the very start of her career! Great story and a great read!

Cinnamon said...

I got slapped by a few nuns at my convent school- must have deserved it though cos my dad never took me out!

Great story-telling- I liked the postscript too.

Jon said...

Bard,
thanks for the compliment... looking forward to where you'll go next on your site with the Celtic harpist... cheers and slante

Francis,
yeah... all those wrestlers die young what with all the sh*t they put in their system... sad, really... but i'm glad that i got a smile and a snicker with the story anyways... seems you would have been one of the by's back in the day.

FLW,
well... this little tale isn't exactly autobiographical (but close to it)... i got hauled out of school, but for a slightly different reason... and missus walters... well, the character she's based on did retire as soon as the early retirement package came around... best thing that could have happened for the students coming up... thanks for your comment...

Cinnamon,
AH! you had the joys of a catholic schooling too! wonder did you have to wear the uniforms and walk only on the right side of the halls? what a state of affairs all that was...
and my dad (when he did get us out of there) was already poisoned with the whole religion/school BS anyways...
c ya again soon

:)

Little Lamb said...

So you went to Catholic school. I went to public school. If we were bad, we had to stand in the corner. I did spend time in the corner for talking when I shouldn't have been.

Jenny said...

Hi Jon,

I liked this story. I appreciate your ability to mix seriousness with humor.

Hm, now you made me think about the big question "why do some kids prefer wrestling and others ballet?" and there are many answers to that one. And I also start to think about the good film "Billy Elliot".

the walking man said...

I was Jimmy just never got caught before I learned better ways about me. God knows how much I despise most of the teachers of my youth. Especially my "missus walters."

PO Johnson said...

All narratives from school make me feel anguish. It all comes back. Not that my school years were that miserable.

Very well-written and capturing story, my friend.

Michael Rawluk said...

That is a super short story. Missus Walters could have ended up in a correctional facility herself.

Lynn said...

Wow,this hits me in so many ways.
Got paddled myself by a male teacher in 7th grade. I guess I mouthed off about something. Another teacher in a math class threw a black board eraser at me for asking for the millionth time to explain it again...but I really just could not understand!
My husband is a teacher today and sends kids to the principals office, gets disrepected often, kids toss spit balls of paper around the room while he's writing on the board with back to them...I'm sure he'd like to lift a few kids in the air, as Ms Walters did that desk. However, he'd lose his job and he hasn't been there long enough to take early retirement. It's a thankless job teaching. And he's a good teacher.

niksixtyeight said...

When I was young I used to watch Rick and the others wrestle on tv, because in those days there were only two shows on tv, wrestling and Grizzly Adams(yawn).

Harlequin said...

Yes, yes, yes. Marvelous. I could have been there, you tell this so well. As a catholic school survivor, I can also relate to the exquisite and perverse cruelties of the likes of sister mary marquis de sade ... and missus walters...
the post script is a nice touch.

Jon said...

Little Lamb,
NO! not you... I can't imagine that you'd speak out in class or disobey the rules!
;)

Jenny,
Billy Eliot is a great film... thanks for reminding me of this one... but then, in that movie he had a tough time with society too...
glad you like the mix of humor and serious... the message gets carried best that way, at least i think... thanks for your thoughts.

Walkingman,
must be that everyone has an experience like this... even the students that later became teachers... I wonder how the system perpetuates in cases like that... maybe it's that we want others to suffer as we had suffered...

PO,
thanks for stopping by... sorry to stir up stuff perhaps best left buried...
glad you liked this story though... i had some fun writing it.

Lynn,
I know that what you say about the jobs of teachers... it is tough... i've learned this myself from doing some teaching these last couple years... but i don't have younger kids... i'd imagine that this is a bit more of a challenge...

nikki,
even now there's not a day goes by when you can't get some wrestling on TV... but then, I wouldn't know too much about that... i've been without TV for about a decade now... but i must say... i loved grizzly adams!

Harle,
glad you liked this post... i thought the post script made sense... i was going to put in another one defining "kayfabe", but decided that this may be going too far and breaking the fourth wall and the suspension of disbelief...

Jon said...

Michael,
sorry that i missed you in the order there... not a slight mate...

thanks for your compliments on this story... it was a bit of a blast from the past for me to write (though admittedly is quite fictionalized)...

i've been enjoying your photos and checking in on your blog lately... and i like where you're going to try to get away from the barbed wire!

;)

cheers

jp

Shubhajit said...

good story with a subtle humor.

I think that "rudeness" is nothing but the frustration within. I recall my school days when our social study teacher used to give punishment by made us singing in front of whole class. I once sang and thereafter I never got any such punishment :)

Escapist said...

Interesting story...

joolliieesss

Little Lamb said...

I was framed. Someone talked to me first. I was only answering their question and I got in trouble. Honest, that's what really happened.

spottedwolf said...

Wonderful story Jon....old' lady Crocker was a nemesis from grammar school for me. She was as mean as they come.

Glad to meet ya bro.........

Jon said...

Shubhajit,
funny, isn't it, how embarrassment can work just as well as any other punishment for young people... i was made to sing once as well... but i tried to have some fun with it and i sang really bad!

Escapist,
Glad you liked it... thanks for stopping by

LL,
sure... sure... you was framed!
;)

spottedwolf,
yeah, it seems like everyone has one teacher that they remember like this... maybe it's part of the learning process...
thanks for the visit, and nice to make your acquaintance too...

BBC said...

Well, I grew up in a mining town and as far as I'm concerned I grew up okay in spite of that.

Mind you, it took over fifty years.

Devin said...

You are such a great writer Jon! I enjoyed this so much -I think the real events that happen in people's lives can be so much more powerful than fictional ones if written by the right person-and your are one of the "right" people!:-)
I had heard of this guy before -I think anyway-didn't realize he had died so young of such a disease-I wouldn't doubt if Jimmy is doing time somewhere else -although one never knows-people can change. In my life anyway-it seems that it just doesn't happen very often.
all the best to you Jon!
and again fantastic writing-I had a wonderful time reading these this am!!