"Oh, shoot!" Mrs. Juhl said. "I forgot the TV and VCR in the teachers' lounge. Tony, since you're in the back near the door and drawing on your desk instead of reviewing the chapter, why don't you go get it for me?" Mrs. Juhl was the object of every fifth-grader's fantasy. The girls wanted to grow up and wear short skirts and tank tops with dipping necklines that showed off their curves. They wanted to teach and dole out their attention to the good kids and punish the bad kids and be the topic of gossip and leers of boys. And they wanted the perfect husband, Mr. Juhl, eighth-grade history teacher, tall and blond and doting on his wife.
The burgeoning boys of Mrs. Juhl's class wanted her in a very different way.
"Sure," I sighed and heaved my chubby body up and out of my desk. I was pretending to be disappointed, but the congested air of the classroom was oppressive, and a walk across campus would be liberating. By the time I reached the door I had already made plans to take the long way to the lounge and discover bugs and blades of grass and other things I hadn't seen before.
I cracked the door to the Teacher's Inner Sanctum, and cigarette smoke stung my nostrils and eyes and stopped me from breaching the threshold. The lounge interior was dark, and my sun-shifted eyes revealed only black holes in my vision.
The sound of pursed lips and moving breath came from inside, "Mmmmm."
I forced against the heavy door and flooded in light. Mr. Juhl and Toni Rodriguez, the school receptionist, jumped to the middle of the room from their perch on a folding table and quickly straightened their clothes.
"Hey, Tony," Mr. Juhl growled. "You've got to knock before you enter the teachers' lounge."
"Sorry," I croaked. "Mrs. Juhl sent me."
"What?" Toni yelled, and whipped around to glare at Mr. Juhl, her long black hair swirling smoke around her back. "You said... "
Deciding that I would just make my exit quickly instead of waiting around for a lecture, I grabbed the metal cart with the television console and VHS.
"I just need the TV. We're going to watch the video of the shuttle crash."
The cart clanged, and I thought the TV was going to fall off as I pushed the rolling scaffold down the ramp and let the door to the teachers' lounge close behind me.
What I Will And Won't Watch This Week
Thursday, May 12
Wild Child: The Story of Feral Children
DISCOVERY CHANNEL, 9:00 p.m.
While camping on an island in a lake, I'd eaten a handful of mushrooms and was convinced there was a wild kid who lived on the island. Because I had seen his footprints circling our tent, I was sure he was hostile. I fashioned a slingshot with a brittle branch and the elastic from a pair of undershorts. Until dawn I was jumping through the tall weeds, yelling, "Ha! Got you, you little bastard!"
Cooking Under Fire
PBS, 10:00 p.m.
"Go to hell!" I yelled, and swept the plate of enchiladas off the counter. On the way out I nabbed the bottle of gin from the cupboard and took a long pull off of it to spite her. "That's right! Go hide in the garage!" she screamed as I slammed the door behind me.
Friday, May 13
FOX, 8:00 p.m.
I'm convinced I have special powers. At least twice per month, for my entire life, I've tried to levitate something with my mind, but it has never worked. Once I was thinking of earthquakes and an earthquake happened. That was my problem. I was thinking too small.
Saturday, May 14
KSWB, 5:30 a.m.
The Straits of Malacca were too shallow to submerge, so we forged through on the surface. I was standing lookout in the rain, atop the sail, with an M-16 and a pair of binoculars. Off the starboard bow I spotted a small boat with its running lights extinguished. The officer of the deck pulled the cigar from his mouth, looked me in the eye, and said, "Pirates. They won't bother us. They're looking for cargo ships."
Sunday, May 15
CBS, 8:00 p.m.
This is the season finale, if you're into that sort of thing. Hey, look at that. I was informative about an upcoming TV show. Well, the sun shines on a dog's ass once in a while.
FAMILY CHANNEL, 8:00 p.m.
What I don't get about this is the whole reversal-of-time-by-spinning-the-earth-backwards-on-its-axis thing. On his home planet of Krypton, where everyone is like him, is this a common occurrence? If I were the average Kryptonian and spilled my beer at lunch, could I just whip around the planet a couple times and have the brew flow backwards into my bottle? Because that would kick ass.
ABC, 9:00 p.m.
Last week, First Lady Laura Bush gave a speech at the White House Correspondents' dinner in which she stated she was a desperate housewife and that "Mr. Excitement," the President of the United States of America, was in bed by 9:00 p.m. She also stated that the President "milked a [male] horse" in his first year as Yale-educated rancher. I better watch my job. If this First Lady thing ever falls through, she could kick my ass all over the pages of this paper. Bravo, Mrs. Bush.
Monday, May 16
NBC, 8:00 p.m.
What do you get when you portray a demigod strongman as a spiritual musician who, instead of tackling his tasks with might and bloody knuckles, learns to find his power from within? Frozen Yeti crap in a jaunty beret.
Tuesday, May 17
Fox Sports World, 4:00 p.m.
Last summer my friend Tom was hitting on a dwarf in a bowling alley bar. He asked her if she'd like to come back to his place, but she was a little too drunk to answer. Instead she got up on the table and kicked over all of our drinks.
Wednesday, May 18
World Poker Tour
TRAVEL CHANNEL, 9:00 p.m.
I gave up my dream of becoming a professional gambler. After I spilled my drink all over the blackjack table and tried to suck it out of the green felt, I realized that I'm not cut out to live in Vegas.