Matt punched the paper towel dispenser in a berserker rage. It split two of his knuckles and I remember staring at his hand with an “oh shit” expression on my face. I could see the tendons, like white ribbons of plastic, and then the blood came a few moments later. It was odd; like the trauma of the punch retarded the blood’s response. The dented paper towel dispenser was just as clean and pearly white as we had found it. Its surface, now concave, reflected the light from the fluorescents above in odd patterns. I ran over to grab a handful of paper towels so we could apply pressure, just like they had taught us in health class, which was ironic because that was the class we were skipping.
As we were leaving, the principal intercepted us. He was a man’s man; they archetypical jock with cauliflower ears earned during a collegiate wrestling career. He was pissed. You see, someone had figured out that it was really easy to open the soap dispensers in all the boy’s bathrooms. They’d then cut a little hole in the soap bag and spray the green gel all over the bathroom walls; sometimes randomly, sometimes in graffiti talking all sorts of shit about the principal. I don’t remember why Matt punched the paper towel dispenser, probably something to do with Renee, but I do remember it being loud enough for the principal to hear as he stalked the halls looking for the ever elusive soap graffiti artist. He’ll never know how close he came to catching him that day.
He looked down at us and demanded to know if we were the ones that were destroying “his” bathrooms. We said no, of course, and then he asked Matt about his hand. Matt made up some flaccid excuse involving a skateboarding incident which only held up because Principal Cauliflower Ear couldn’t prove that we dented the paper towel dispenser. It was my contention that blood would be all over it if we had. He turned to us with a frown and dismissed Matt back to class. After all, Matt was a wrestler, and a damn good one, and jocks stick together. But I had long hair. I played the drums and hung out with a questionable crowd. There’d be no quick dismissal for me. Principal Cauliflower Ear looked down at me, literally with his fists on his hips, and told me in no uncertain terms that I’d be going nowhere in life, and furthermore, he’d eventually catch me in the act and “suspend my ass.” I walked back to health class with a smartass smirk on my face, but inside, I was a quaking child.
Principal Cauliflower Ear lost his job two weeks later. As it turns out, he was embezzling money from useless extracurricular activities like drama and the chess club and funneling it into wrestling and football. I guess the bean-counters weren’t jocks because they didn’t stick with Principal Cauliflower Ear. He left and retired as a dejected has-been. I haven’t seen him since, and my “how do you like me now?” moment is frozen somewhere in my past.
My civics teacher was a plump and flirtatious ass. He was the star of all the assemblies. He’d pump up the auditorium with his easy smile or do the splits after the other teachers “begged” him to do it. He’d walk the halls tickling and smiling and laughing as if he were just as cool as the cool kids. “Nah, don’t mind me, I’m not one of those grownups you can’t trust, I’m one of you guys.” He never really liked me, but he sure as hell liked the girls that I hung out with. He’d tolerate my presence in the back row as long as I didn’t do something retarded; if I did, and heads turned away from his spectacle to see what I was up to, he’d glare at me over my classmates with a look that promised make-up work. That man always looked down on me despite the easy “A” I carried through his bullshit class and I despised him for it.
A few years later I ran into him at one of those trashy casual dining places. The waitresses were tired and all the food was fried, but I was a college drop-out barely clinging to sobriety, so it was a comfortable haunt. He walked over to me, still smug and plump, and asked how I was faring in Oregon. Someone had told the ass that I dropped out, and when I confirmed it, he pounced. He threw back his head and laughed as if he were on stage and said he knew I’d fail because college was like a “smorgasbord of sin” and I was “too weak to resist.” Shit. It was true. It was raining that day and the weather must’ve left me witless. I paid my bill, tipped twenty percent, and left with my loser friends.
The next time I saw that ass, it was on TV. He was handcuffed and wearing an orange jumpsuit. As it turns out, Mr. Smorgasbord was the leader of a youth group at his church, and he accidentally diddled an acolyte. She was sixteenish with a nubile body and doe eyes. He was a man of power and influence looking down on a circle of doting underage girls; he had his own smorgasbord of sin and he sampled.
I shouted my “how do you like me now?” at the TV, but that moment, just like the former, lacked fulfillment. However, I guess it’s all unnecessary because somewhere, deep down, the two teachers heard me. Or maybe they heard me before I said it, before they were caught doing what they did. And maybe the reason they never liked me to begin with is because they saw my triumph, their failure, every time they looked at me. Because even at my worst, I never pretended to be something I wasn’t. I was a long haired bathroom vandalizing smartass in the back of the class, but luckily, that’s not something for which they make you wear orange jumpsuits.
I write and sell books and they never cost more than a dollar. If you’re a fan of fiction, you should check out Trailer Park Juggernauts here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00704HK6Q If you’re a fan of real life with just a sprinkling of fiction, you should check out Ephemeral Truths and Short Fiction here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AYRAXNI