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Inspirational Reads

Appetite for Algebra

July 7, 2007

I was on my home this evening from tutoring when I heard a DJ come on the local radio ("the everything that rocks" station...for what it's worth) and say that it was 20 years ago when Guns & Roses first released something off their "Appetite for Destruction" album. This didn't make me feel old, though I probably should, but it did make me think of my 7th grade math class.

That's probably a strange sort of memory to be stirred by GnR, but it made me think of a t-shirt design that was proposed for the math classes under the tutelage of my math teacher, Mr. Wallace. The t-shirt design had the cross with roses in place of the heads from the Appetite for Destruction album cover, and in the same font as on the album was written "Appetite for Algebra". Someone actually sketched the design freehand (we had many pretty decent artists in my middle school...I sometimes fancy myself a bit of an artist, but my designs, drawings and everything paled in comparison to some of my middle school classmates). I believe that it was going to be a black or slate gray shirt with red letters and it was going to be really nice, especially to a seventh grader. I'm sure my mom would have crapped to have something like that in her house, which always seemed like the worst insult ever. "I wouldn't have something like that in my house!" "I won't allow that in my house!" What about in the yard, mom? The car? Just on the porch?

Anyway, all of these are in the "possible" range since I never received my shirt. You see, I wanted one, wanted one badly. I saved up my lawnmowing money for a couple of weeks and the money I could con out of my parents in order to buy "extra milk" on chocolate milk days. Then the day came when the sign up sheet was passed around. So, Mr. Wallace put the sign up sheet on a desk by the door to the math room and stepped out a second for coffee, and now that I'm an adult, I can't fault him for that. With Mr. Wallace gone, havoc was sure to ensue. And it did.

We all lined up for sign ups. We joked, talked, goofed off...all the things you'd expect from a bunch of seventh graders. I thought nothing of it, but the air was filled with electricity from the merriment surrounding both the sign up sheet as well as the lack of Mr. Wallace. It was the build up to the perfect storm. Finally my turn in line came, and so I dutifully bent over the desk to write my name, number of shirts, size, money enclosed for payment...

Let's point out here that, in the seventh grade, I was about six foot tall. The desks were about mid-thigh high on me, so I had to bend over quite a bit to get down to the sign up sheet. Instead of crouching down by the side of the desk and filling out the paperwork like I had a fricking brain in my head, I bent over, at the waist. Doing so caused the waistband of my jeans to dip low down my backside. Fortunately for me, the waistband of my underwear was rock solid and did not move at all, providing a delectable target that was too delicious to avoid for my friend Chris Long. I had just managed to jot down my first name when I felt that horrible tug on the waistband of my drawers as they shot skyward. Searing pain shot through my nether regions as the crotch of my briefs threatened to emasculate me and the bulk of my underwear were turned into butt-floss.

The pain was real, that was for sure. My fragile seventh-grade ego also was shattered--doubtless word would spread soon after the attack on my backside to the remainder of my classmates who were not fortunate enough to witness my unmanning. Worst of all, however, was that, while the Mother-of-All-Wedgies was happening to my backside, the only face I saw was that of the alabaster angel who sat on the other side of the room by the far wall: Stacie Farmer.

In the seventh grade at my school, we got a whole new batch of kids from another school that did not have a middle school. Among these imports from Lancaster Elementary were my best friend, Jason, one of my closest confidants through middle and high school and beyond into college, Kelly, and the perfect, unfettered beauty, Stacie Farmer. The one problem with my infatuation with Stacie was that it was quite unrequited. Being a writer, I'm sometimes hostage to the whims of my passions, which flow through my veins like white-hot lead. It's these passions that I spill out onto paper in the form of prose, most of the time. Being an awkward seventh-grader, my passions would often fully encompass my being, smothering all sense and reason.

The unrequited nature of my desire for Stacie happened pretty much from the first day the new students arrived from Lancaster Elementary. I was blessed enough to have Stacie sitting behind me in science class. One day, that fateful first week of seventh grade, I turned around, smiled, and opened my mouth to speak. Unfortunately, that was the exact moment my wits decided to leave me, and thus my opening line was:

"You don't blink very often, do you?"

Not the smoothest pick-up ever. In fact, that pretty much sealed my fate with Ms. Farmer. I could tell because her answer was "What are you, stupid?"

That did not stop the ball of emotion within my chest from beating solely for Stacie Farmer. It would not, however, amount to anything, but I still remained completely infatuated with that blonde beauty. So, you can imagine that, upon that fateful day in math class, when I looked up and saw the look of astonishment and amusement on Stacie's face as my underwear was being heaved up around my shoulders like the raising of the mizzenmast, a piece of my soul shattered.

So, when I heard that Appetite for Destruction was 20 years old this year, I didn't feel old. I felt a small twinge of pain deep in the pit of my heart, thinking about the time when I was completely and thoroughly embarrassed and unmanned, and my poor little heart was crushed.

And I also felt like I needed to pick my underwear out of my butt.


Chemgeek said...

so, did you ever get the shirt?

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

No, that's the other facet of my sad tale of woe: didn't get the shirt, didn't get the girl.

Chemgeek said...

It would be so cool if you got the shirt and still tried to wear it as a way of attempting to reconnect with your youth and love lost.