In Which the Tables Turn
I saw the principal from my elementary school yesterday. Just out in town. I hadn't seen him in several years.
It's weird for me seeing these people that I remember from a different vantage point. See, when I thought of this former principal of mine, I thought of him using my mind's eye's last reference point...when I was was much younger, and much shorter. To my mind's eye, which measured in at five feet tall, at the most, this principal was a giant. Huge.
Yesterday, he was much, much shorter than I'd realized. Age is part of it, but age won't shrink a man from the 8 feet or so tall I'd thought he was down to a mere 5'11" or so.
I was pleased with that, for some reason. That I towered over this person who used to strike fear into the hearts of so many kids. (Yes, I take pleasure in accomplishing nothing more than growing to 6'4".)
Rumor was, back in the day, that this particular principal had an electric paddle to do his disciplinary dirty work. I spent many a spare moment in grade school imagining how such a contraption would be constructed. It got to the point that I was tempted to get into trouble, just so that I might get a glimpse of such a wondrous thing.
What did I do to get sent to the principal's office?
I dunno. This kid Mitchell started it. I merely finished things. Actually, it was pretty much the only fight I've ever been part of in my life, and it was just a couple of fifth graders rolling around in the dirt.
Actually, I didn't get sent to the principal's office. I got yelled at in the hallway by the principal and my teacher at the time. And yelled at, and yelled at. To be honest, being the quiet, non-troublesome child I was, it was enough to strike insane terror into my heart.
Over time, I realized the error of my ways. I didn't push things enough. I forgot my goals. I never got to see the electric paddle machine.
I've come to blame the principal for my not getting to realize that dream.
Since then, I've spent better than $9 million (American) in the past 15 years trying to devise a workable and saleable paddling machine. It's only been in the last 15 months that I've devised a prototype design that I feel is feasible for mass production. Sadly, it's ended up being for naught. My corporate backing has fallen away.
Seems people think there's not a market for what I'm selling. I was told: "We don't want to hurt the kids." Also: "There are other ways to discipline students."
Seems to me, a buttwhuppin' machine's the millionaire maker. Everybody needs what I'm selling, so far as I can see.
I've been down about this for a while. I mean, I've been feeling like I've wasted countless years developing my machine. That's time I'd never get back. All that money. All the lives of those migrant workers lost in the construction and testing of the device. All for naught.
But I reached a level of gratification yesterday I'd not thought possible.
I started talking to the principal. I struck up a conversation. I don't think he knew exactly who I was. Out of all the students over the many, many years he'd been educating, I was little more than a vaguely familiar face.
I used it to my advantage. Yesterday, friends, I was more wiley than I'd ever been in my life. I used lies. I used sweet talk. I used the most subtle forms of subterfuge ever imagined. Promises of Fried Chicken and Pro Wrasslin' tapes were the trick. I was able to lure my former principal to my
We ate chicken (Fried Chicken) and watched Wrasslin' Tapes (Clash of Champions VI) and we talked of many things. By and by, conversation turned to that little combative incident I mentioned earlier.
It was then that the Principal realized just who the hell I was.
"You're the weird kid who got the crap beaten out of him by Mitchell!"
"I didn't get beat up!"
"Yeah, you did. Really bad. I mean, we didn't even punish you because you were whupped so bad. That drove you nuts!"
"Huh?" I said, witty to the last.
"You started bawling! You wanted to go to my office so bad! I didn't understand. You lost the fight. I didn't see the point in punishing you!"
Because I suck at both timing and segue, I then turned on the spotlights to the small stage I had set up.
"Gentlemen!" I said, "Behold! The Paddling Machine!"
"Huh?" he said. The best lines always work.
I threw on my cape and Phantom of the Opera mask and laughed my best maniacal laugh.
"I've surpassed you! I've created a bigger, better paddling machine."
He could only ogle.
"When I left you, I was but the learner. Now I am the Master!"
Finally, he stammered: "Is that an electric paddling machine?"
"It runs on diesel," I said. "I've spent countless years, a small fortune creating this device! This machine (The Whupinizer) is my life's work! The time for my revenge is at hand!"
"Revenge?" He's a quick one.
"Yeah. You thought you were the only one with a paddling machine! You wanted so much to keep it to yourself, that you wouldn't even stoop to punish me with it!"
"I never had an electric paddling machine," he said.
"Huh?" (Best lines again.)
"That...that was just some stupid story you kids always told. I mean, you kids just ran with it. We even had to send out a note to parents. No paddling machine."
I was floored.
"Do you mean to tell me," the Principal continued, "that you've been working to make your own? For all these years?"
"Well, I did a little reading, and I..."
Why do they always say that?
Then it dawned on me.
Deny, Deny, Deny!
They always deny. Plausible deniability. He's protecting his profession's secrets. Lies. Subterfuge. Obfuscation.
"Don't lie to me!" I yelled.
"I'm not lying, Tommy. There's no such thing!"
He was trying to inveigle me. "Don't try to inveigle me," I said.
"I'm not try....."
I pulled out my sock full of nickels, and ended the conversation.
Oh yeah. He's not awake yet. When he does, we'll throw him in the Whupinzer, strap him in, set the torque, hem up the dooleyflange and turn on the clock!
It is then, after I've gone to the truck stop to buy a couple of gallons of diesel, and gone to buy some safety goggles (because of the sparks) that I will be infinitely curious as to his thoughts on my
diesel-powered paddling machine.
My name is Big Stupid Tommy, and this has been the dumbest post ever.