It would not be a good thing, if you follow certain logic, to interview the survivors of the Titanic in order to discover what went wrong, and why. Those poor people, it is presupposed, are incapable of objective judgment due to extreme terror and trauma; perhaps to the point their opinions and views might be considered irreversibly scarred by the event, so much in fact as to be useless. Better to leave the sinking up to those who have theories as to what happened, and to those who built the ship, and to those who might explain that this is an isolated incident, and if we just keeping everything the same, no matter the loses, then it is worth whatever we pay to get people from one point to another, cheaply.
After all, when it gets right down to it, some of the passengers did arrive safely, in a manner of speaking, did they not?
When I was eighteen months old I experienced a brain injury that may have caused some sort of permanent impairment to my eye hand coordination. I am nearly useless with hand tools to this day. I have no ability at all when it comes to tasks that involve using my hands to shape things, cut things, paste things, or create from any medium when it involves my brain telling my fingers what to do. Because this happened in the early 1960’s there was no way to discern if there was any damage, the degree of it, or if in fact that was the reason for my inability. This is just my theory, mind you. This is my explanation of events, because I have learned to reject the others.
Because I was born in November, I started the first grade when I was still five. I could read at that point, and write, some, and was ahead of most children in what I knew academically. My older sister had exploded out of the gate when she started school and went on to be a straight A student for life. My problems began with writing. The Early County School System demanded that all children in the first through the third grades use these gigantic pencils that were more like small clubs than writing tools. My hands were small, nearly tiny, and I could not wield the giant pencils at all. The instrument that you see above this essay was once used to draw lines on the chalkboards that lined each of the classrooms in our school. The teacher would draw the lines and then tell us what to write, and if you got far enough behind you had no idea what to write on the next line. If I kept up with the rest of the class what I wrote would be illegible. If what I wrote was legible I would be three lines behind, and hopelessly lost. The punishment for bad writing or getting behind was the same; a spanking with a wooden paddle and public ridicule. The ridicule same in the form of the teacher passing my papers around so the other children could, and would make fun of me. There was also the chair in the corner which had my name on it, and there was recess, which I was forced to sit out, and there was the never ending tirade from the teacher who sought out one child in the class to make an example of, and I was that child. This was in the day when the teacher was always right, and my parents were mere bobble headed dolls who nodded and rubber stamped anything and everything any teacher suggested short of decapitation.
My daddy died when I was ten. My father is still alive today, but when I was ten the man who I so looked forward to seeing at the end of the day was replaced by someone who was going to continue the abused fostered on me by the school system. Beatings and ridicule and deprivation were going to make a better student out of me. They only had to figure out how hard to hit me, how often to hit me, what to take away from me, and who to make fun of me in front of often enough, until I woke up a better person for it. I spent a great deal of my childhood locked away in my bedroom with nothing but books. I spent a great deal of my childhood shut away from the rest of the world because this would teach me to be a better student. I spent a great deal of my childhood avoiding my father because he had bought into the idea that I could be a better student of only he could figure out what form of torment was the key.
I got drunk for the first time at school. I got stoned for the first time at school. I gave up on life at school. The American Public Education System taught me I could not learn and they taught me I had no value because I could not learn. The American Public Education System taught me that only certain people would be rewarded in life and I would never, ever, be one of those people. From the first grade until I staggered across the finish line and was given a diploma, each and every school year was filled with physical punishment, ridicule, and deprivation. But I did learn how to drink. I learned how to smoke pot. And I was taught I would never write.
So! Here we are today, decades later, and someone would like for me not to be so mean and angry about all of this. As damaged as it is, I am told, it is still better than nothing at all. Well as it turns out, that is what I got out of it, and here we are, decades later, and it is I who is writing.
It is my thoughts that we ought to totally abolish The American Public Education System from top to bottom. We should not spend another dime on it. We should let those who can afford to send their kids to private schools do that, and everyone else has got to find some way to do it on their own.
For you see now, decades later, this is what I have done, and now, I am the one doing the writing, I have come back to tell my story of a sinking ship. If it is a good tale, told properly, then you must admit there is some truth in my words, regardless of the trauma. If it not, then my words are still true, aren’t they?
You wish this debate with me, well and good, but we shall have it here. You want to know who and what I hate, grab a beer, my friend, because I have not run out of hate in decades. I was on that ship, I was not allowed a life raft, but here we are, and it is I who is doing the writing now.
“I aim to misbehave.”