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“Secret Sex, A Book Alive Online,” written and lived by John Scott G.
Chapter 15 – Switch On, Switch Off.
Having access to the high school auditorium public address system proved to be quite beneficial for the drama students. We attached a switch to the snipped wires so we could use the P.A. when we needed it for play production. If a scene called for a sound effect, a recording of a gigantic hound ripping apart a squirrel, let’s say, ’cause you know how often that comes up, then we’d just flip the switch ‘On’ and things were good to go. But we could keep the system shut down whenever we needed to be undisturbed.
This made the auditorium even more of a home-away-from-home for some of us. It was a dorm room. A dining hall. A closet. A rumpus room. A storage facility. A make-out pad. A sanctuary for evading the hall monitors.
Perhaps you’re questioning our unfettered access to the place. Let me explain:
Getting in and out of the auditorium became quite simple once the stagecraft department received an extra set of keys.
Okay, let’s examine that last sentence for just a moment. When you see the words “the stagecraft department” you might instead insert the word “Billy.” That’s right, the same Billy whose sneakers and toes were sacrificed in the campaign to control the P.A.
And when you see the word “received” you might instead use the word “made.” Billy’s father owned a hardware store. Or twelve of them. Or managed them. Or something. And lots of hardware stores had somebody they called a locksmith, a guy who worked the machine that would copy keys. Sure, some keys are coded to warn the locksmith not to indiscriminately make copies. Like school keys, as it turns out. But as I said to Billy:
“I won’t tell if you won’t.”
And Billy was persuaded to copy the keys.
Okay, let’s examine that last sentence for just a moment. When you see the word “persuaded” you might instead use the word “coerced.” Or perhaps “blackmailed.”
Hey, we all have secrets we would prefer the world not view, especially when we’re in high school. One of Billy’s secrets was that he had nude photos in his locker, which would be grounds for suspension from school. If he was suspended, his father told him he would then find himself enrolled in a jail. Well, a military academy, which was pretty much the same thing to Billy. So when we needed something done that had an element of danger but the Satin Sweethearts gang couldn’t handle it, Billy was our guy. You know, until he got caught and suspended and sent away to military prison. I mean school.
One late afternoon, I was in the auditorium with Billy’s older sister’s friend’s cousin from Binghampton High, which was a rival school just a few miles away across town. The school day was over and we knew we could spend a few lovely hours together because the next scheduled event in the facility wouldn’t begin until seven o’clock that evening. We lounged around on some of the sets for the current production of “Once Upon a Mattress.”
It was an idyllic time, very peaceful and refined. Naturally, we engaged in some quiet conversation. We chatted about quadratic equations and the history of indigenous people in North America and whether there was any symbolism to be found in the string quartets of Beethoven.
Yeah, right. Are you kidding? She wanted me to do things to her that she had read about in “Fanny Hill.”
The feathers were no problem because we had access to all the props and costumes of the drama department. But do you know how difficult it is to find something to take the place of a riding crop?
Sure, you laugh, but we had to test out a whole bunch of different items to get the effect she wanted. What we needed was a switch, a flexible rod that would deliver a stinging sensation without breaking the skin. We finally found a couple of thin plastic wands that had been used in the Easter pageant. After removing the big pink bows from them, they worked fine. This entire experience was very taxing, but somehow I got through it.
When we were done, we caught our breath. Okay, when I was done, we caught our breath. She was ready to move on to her next conquest. In fact, she moved on very quickly, saying “I have to go, I have a date tonight.” Lucky guy, I thought to myself.
So there I was, backstage in a big dimly-lit room that was getting dimmer in the gathering gloom of the evening. So I did what any red-blooded American male would do under the circumstances. I took a nap.
I believe that’s what I said when I woke up. It’s true that I don’t usually sound that intelligent right after regaining consciousness, but something was happening nearby that made all my senses tingly and alert. There were voices coming from the auditorium. Oh, right, the seven o’clock event.
It was a meeting of the fifth annual School Board’s Conference on Reformation of Educational Enlightenment and Participatory Service. Or whatever. I’ve probably got that name wrong because my way would be “School Board CREEPS.” Seemed fitting to me but my memory may not be serving me well at this moment.
The stage curtains were closed because the conference event only required that a podium be positioned on the front portion of the stage. That’s the part of a theater that is called the “apron,” which is a French word that means “the extra part of the stage that we cannot hide behind the curtain unless we re-design the whole damn building.”
I peeked out from the side of the curtain. The seats in the auditorium were filling up with School Board Muckymucks and Bigwigs and Functionaries and Flunkies and Assistants and various dour-looking members of the education sect. Meanwhile, our beloved Principal Oafley was putting his speech notes at the podium and attempting to adjust the microphone.
The microphone, I said to myself. Hmmm. You know, I wonder if we had turned the P.A. system speakers back on the last time we futzed around with it. Very quietly, I moved to the junction box and peeked inside. The switch was in the Off position. Yipes, that’s not going to be good. So I switched it on.
“– is not working, oh there we go,” said Principal Oafley, his voice booming out of the auditorium speakers. “For a moment, I thought we would have to go back to using smoke signals.” Not a great line, but acceptable under the circumstances. Then he ruined the effect by laughing at his own joke.
I took a couple more peeks through the curtain, watching the conglomeration of School Board rabble rapidly filling the chairs. And I mean filling. Very few of these people had been going without their four or five square meals a day.
Needless to say, I wasn’t impressed with the audience. These were the people who continually tried to stymie my educational progress, or so I saw it. It was this horde whose slavish adherence to the letter of the law totally ignored the spirit of the law. You know, just like Congress.
Seriously, these were the bureaucrats who funneled funds to schools in white neighborhoods and away from schools in Black and Hispanic neighborhoods. Under their watch, the special needs students were mocked and hazed on a daily basis. It was this conglomeration of well-dressed Bo-hunks who made certain to expel a student who got pregnant but gave awards to the star halfback who impregnated her. These were the people who turned a blind eye to institutionalized racial, sexual, and social prejudices of the time.
This group of twits allowed their teachers to screen a film called “Green Pastures” and comment that it “accurately displays the way the Negro thinks and feels.” For those of you who were not subjected to this example of cinematic art, it features Old Testament tales as taught by a black Sunday school teacher who interprets the Bible for his flock. Which probably sounds okay until you realize that the film features a character called “De Lawd” acting like a Southern Baptist preacher and Eddie “Rochester” Anderson playing “Cap’n Noah.” Among the cast can be spotted Mantan Moreland. Quite a lot of the film takes place an all-black heaven where the raptured spirits always seem to be at fish fries. In Donald Bogle’s book, Bright Boulevards, Bold Dreams: The Story of Black Hollywood, the best he has to say about the film is that it “employed hundreds of black performers.”
Just being in the same building with the clutch of School Board people didn’t make me at all comfortable. I was gritting my teeth so hard that my ears were hurting.
Finally, I sighed, and the tension drained from my body. It seemed as if this was a good time for me to high-tail-it out of there, but then came a blinding flash of heightened awareness. Like an arrow penetrating a water balloon, an idea entered my mind. A delicious idea. Perhaps an evil and nefarious idea, but mouthwatering and much too tempting to overlook.
I peeked out again. Stepping to the podium was Susan Franklyn Perrimaker, who was with the State School System. She worked on a program that attempted to frighten teens about the horrors of sexual intercourse. Her project was called something like the Senior Advisory Council Outreach for Science Health Teaching. Or SACOSHT.
“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the beautiful auditorium of William Lovelace Binkley Academy High School. Mister Chairman, Madame Secretary, distinguished guests, since we all have the printed notes from our last meeting, I move to waive the reading of the minutes so we can get right to our keynote address.”
There was some mumbling from the audience at this point, but I guess everything was fine because SACOSHT continued:
“All right then, without further ado, it gives me great pleasure to introduce the esteemed representative of the Chapleather Unified School District and honored Principal of William Lovelace Binkley Academy High School. Would you all please welcome Mr. Richard “Dick” Oafley!”
There was thunderous applause. Except in the auditorium, where the reaction was tepid and perfunctory.
“Thank you, Susan, for that warm and gracious introduction. Mister Chairman. Madam Secretary. Esteemed Directors. Honored Board Members. And fellow colleagues. It is fitting that our theme this evening is ‘Education in the Schools: Pro or Con’ because at no other time in the history of our planet can we make this crucial observation, and that extremely important observation is – ”
I switched off the speakers. Standing in the spotlight behind the polished wooden podium, Principal Oafley appeared to be performing an excellent mime routine of a man making a speech. Then he stopped and played with the microphone. So I switched the speakers back on.
“– omething the matter with — Oh, there we go.” He cleared his throat and the Ghhrargh sound reverberated around the room. “Excuse me. Well, that was louder than I thought it would be. Sorry. So, as I was saying, the young people of our great nation are about to embark on a journey that — ”
Off. Pause for the miming and mic fiddling. On.
“– was working just a minute ago. Oh, maybe it’s okay now? We’ll try it. All right, let’s see. . . Education is the, um, no, uh, Life, life is a wheel and the spokes of that wheel are our many adventures in life, but the educational system, our precious educational system is the hub of that wheel! And I do not have to tell you that it is ”
Off. Oafley was getting perturbed.
” — od damn thing! Oh, excuse me! Uh, is it. . . is it working now do you think? Will it keep working? All right. Testing, testing, one, two. Test.”
“– orry for th — ”
“– ecause the best-laid — ”
“– mice and — ”
“– rats! Oops, there, it’s back and — ”
“– iece of shit. . . oh, my heavens, I — ”
“– s not working! Ladies and gentlemen, I am so sorry about this, but they — ”
“– guess we’ll have to because we — ”
“– Let me just conclude by saying that it is my fervent prayer that we all work together in for — ”
“– nication! — ”
“– Thank you all, and good — ”
Nighty-night, I thought to myself. It took every single ounce of my strength and resolve not to step out on that stage for some acknowledgement of my work that evening. But still, the event needed a more exciting finish. So I touched off the fire alarm.
As I was slipping out the back door of the stagecraft room, I wished I could have done more to that group of stunted little worthless souls. The next day I learned that because no one in the building could figure out how to turn off the fire alarm, the overhead sprinklers activated themselves about five minutes after I left. Man, I would have enjoyed that. After all, it’s not often you get to see the literal manifestation of something you know to be true: the School Board members were all wet.
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“Secret Sex, A Book Alive Online,” written and lived by John Scott G, is Copr. © 2011-2012 by JSG, all rights reserved under U.S. and international copyright conventions. Commercial use in any form is forbidden without express written permission of the author. Originally published on eNewsChannels.com with permission. Credits: Book cover design: Phil Hatten; Author Photo: Phil Hatten.