Through 8th grade, I went to a “progressive” school on the Upper West Side.
People called it “the TV School” because it looked like a TV, though now that they expanded the building upwards, it looks like a TV with a VCR, TiVo and cable box all stacked dumbly on top of it. Everyone knows you’re not supposed to stack those on top of the TV.
Officially, it wasn’t even called a school.
Too confining. Instead, it was called a “Learning Center.” But I’ll refer to it as the TV School.**
Homerooms were called “Clusters,” homeroom teachers were called “Cluster Advisors,” and classrooms were called “areas” because there were no walls inside to separate them. If there are no walls, you can’t call it a classroom.
The most casual touch?
We called teachers by their first names. Eva, Jim, Suki, George, Jodi, Shelley. As in, This year, I’m in Shelley’s cluster. Or, George yelled at me in Health Ed. He’s a dick!
Kids at the TV School would take liberties they didn’t dream of at my next school, which was a traditional all-girls’ deal. There, you started French in 4th Grade and Latin in 6th, wore uniforms through 8th, couldn’t talk in the elevator if there were more than 6 people, and had the same gym teachers my mother had when she went there. They were over 70, and their names started with “Miss.” It was by all means a capital-S “School.”
By the standards of the TV School, it was “really strict.”
The TV school rewarded free expression. For instance, when our Communications teacher announced our assignment at the end of class, the hot girl, Carney* would let her striped boatneck tee slip to show her bra strap as she raised her hand and protested in a breathy voice, “Um, Larry, I don’t think it’s fair that you gave us so much homework.”
Larry would say, “OK” and give us less homework.
I’m just setting the scene to show why I thought it was OK to do this:
Our 7th Grade Social Studies teacher, Sam, gave us regular current events assignments. We had to find a magazine or newspaper article and summarize it. I loathed this exercise. I complained that it was “a pain,” but I wasn’t as effective as Carney. (I had no sexy bra strap to flash.) Though Sam didn’t cancel the assignment as I’d hoped, he did try to make it more palatable, stressing that it could be any magazine or newspaper.
“Any?” I asked.
So naturally, I picked Penthouse Forum. I don’t know how I got my hands on an issue of Penthouse, since the only porn publications my dad kept around the house, to my knowledge, were Jewish Week and the phone book — both of which are hot stuff to a man who gets off on trolling for possible relatives with variations on our last name. In my family, we call this “cousin porn.” Which makes it sound like something way more taboo and sexy.
However I obtained the source material, what I do remember is quoting the phrase “raging hard-on” several times in my report. The man in the story, upon seeing the beautiful woman, gets a “raging hard-on.”…In total, the man in this story has 4 “raging hard-ons.” Gotta say, the assignment taught me how to use quotation marks. It also introduced me to the questionably spelled word “cum” [sic].
I handed it in clipped to the ripped-out magazine pages, as requested.
I got a check-plus (the highest grade you could get was check-plus-plus, though in this relaxed learning environment it wasn’t called a grade) along with a comment that said, “Maybe try the New Yorker next time.”
Of all the schoolwork of mine that my mom kept all these years, that piece is missing. She probably didn’t like Penthouse because it was sexist.
What did you get away with in your school? Or not get away with?
TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS.
*Carney was not the hot girl’s real name, but close enough.
**I don’t name the schools, because I don’t know, could they sue me? I didn’t learn those rules in Current Events class.
“Boners in the News” – you really know how to get a girl to click on your links!
You know it. Teachers love ’em, too.
Jul's Arthur says
✔++ Laura, I just have to tell you that I have read 4 or 5 posts now to my mama over the phone as she doesn’t live here.
This is becoming a ritual. She goes on your site with much step by step coaching by me…she still doesn’t know where the URL gets typed to find a website. She can read your posts, but for some reason, I read them to her out loud…laughing as I go. This, sadly, means she misses some of the brilliance of your verbiage. Yet she continually laughs with me and on her own the entire phone conversation. You would think we were two teenagers combing over those Penthouse articles. I laugh at your amazing writing and her laughing at your comedy excellence too. It’s an indulgent pastime. Laura Belgray Laughfest. It is my, and now mama’s, guilty pleasure.
Then I read the posts of your readers, and laugh more. Nell and Duran, Duran…classic! Cecilia..yes love Papa Belgray..omg “trolling for possible relative variations…cousin porn.” Bruce, my condolences. Aww Lane, at least you came. Randle, Abby, Alison your stories are appreciated as well.
Here’s my brief “got away with it” story, though it is not in school. I was a good girl in school.
I had taken the train to Paris, by myself. I was probably 18-19, but I looked about 14. I had only a short holiday weekend, and took a bus to Versailles for a first time visit. Upon arrival, the line of tourists was days long. My return bus in 3 hours would never suit if I got on my proper place at the end of the line. So I cheated.
I sauntered to the palace tour exit door and nonchalantly walked in. I continued my own personal tour, backwards. About 10 minutes in, me going the opposite way of every other human in there, two uniformed guards stopped me. They accosted me with rapid and harsh French, sputtering in my face.
I love the French language. I don’t speak it. I am language challenged even in my native tongue of English. Give a lass a break. I hadn’t yet seen the Hall of Mirrors. So I put on my poor, scared, wee lost bairn face and said, “Maman! Papa!” as if I had been separated from my parents and desperately trying to find them. So they let me go.
I saw the entire palace backwards.
You are tres crafty, Jul’s! A brilliant ruse. I think I will use it next time I’m stopped. Will it work at age 45? I still look like a lost child, right?
I don’t know what kind of day today is. Full moon energy? But this was my fave:
It also introduced me to the questionably spelled word “cum” [sic].
And only because of the [sic]. But because it was coupled with the “cum”.
I need this day to be over.
“Coupled with the ‘cum'” looks extra dirty. In an excellent way.
Then it’s a check ++!
This post gets a check PLUS PLUS PLUS! (I’m too lazy to figure out where the “check” is on my keyboard!? Do I even have a check on my keyboard?) I shared with my my friend whose daughter goes to the TV/BLUE RAY/DVR/Wii/xBox school and she loved it like a cluster! Meanwhile, my kids are OBSESSED with boners. Just last night they watched an episode of Girl Code about boners on YouTube. I wished your mom saved your paper, they would have loved to read it!
I couldn’t find a “check” on my keyboard either! I had to google image and screen shot the fucker. So much time for so little ROI. I love that both your kids are obsessed with boners. Puts Sasha so ahead of the game. Has SHE read Then Again, Maybe I Won’t?
Oh, this made me LOL for real in that really really loud way that makes people around you ask what you’re laughing about and then you try to explain but you can’t really explain it and it kind of ruins the whole thing so you just close the door and go back to reread it so you can laugh to yourself again.
Especially this and everything after:
I don’t know how I got my hands on an issue of Penthouse, since the only porn publications my dad kept around the house, to my knowledge, were Jewish Week and the phone book — both of which are hot stuff to a man who gets off on trolling for possible relatives with variations on our last name. In my family, we call this “cousin porn.” Which makes it sound like something way more taboo and sexy.
You’re the best, love wayback Wednesdays!
I was going to say you should send them the link, but they sound like the kind of people who won’t get me. I don’t need that. I just need people like you who actually laugh out loud (as opposed to LOL, which is never for real). Thanks, Cecilia!
Your school sounds almost as good as your summer camp. I scoured my brain for something awesome I got away with in grade school, and there’s nothing. I was always good, and I still got in trouble for things I didn’t even do. Welcome to the Missouri Synod Lutheran education.
However, this is funny to think about: Everyone in the school went through a spell of pantsing when I was in 5th or 6th grade. (It’s when you pull someone’s pants down and run away, and they stand there frozen in panic. It encouraged you to change your underwear more frequently than usual.)
No one got in trouble, and none of the grownups ever even told us that that behavior was considered sexual assault. What a lame education.
I know, you used to be able to expose someone’s privates without all this PC crap.
My sister’s class, when they were all wearing skirt uniforms, would yank each other’s skirts up. So to protect themselves from humiliation, they started wearing bloomers over their undies. Which seems like a worse thing for someone to see – so diaper-y. Or 19th century bathing costume.
Alison Pollet says
YOU DID NOT DO THIS. OMG. Isn’t it weird how we knew so much about porn magazines? I also don’t really know how. Newstands? Like that was back when they didnt have to be behind the counter. On my first day of Hebrew School at Park Avenue Synagogue, the teacher took attendance and when I said my name, she barked at me: “No! Your Hebrew name.” I had to admit I didn’t have one. So she gave me one: Aviva (as in the word for Spring and also…Drescher.) I cringed in mortification because it contained the word VIVA, which you may recall was like Playboy’s tawdry second cousin (who was from somewhere tough, you know, like Roslyn.) Several boys sniggered ‘VIVA,” and you know that was that….first day. LOVE WAYBACK WEDNESDAY!
I did, I did. I used to find porn mags all the time. We were staying at a motel once where I found Hustler – which was a REAL awakening. What are those ladies doing to each other?
Viva is now coming back to me. Really, I think there’s more stigma to the name Aviva NOW.
My Hebrew name is Sharona Dafna. Nice to meet you, Aviva.
OK –I love this. You really get the get the Calhoun days exactly right. Plus it’s the best kind of funny, but that’s not a surprise to me by now. I got away with writing down Duran Duran lyrics & turning them in as poetry in 9th grade English. And I cheated on every test I could. Not my finest years. My sense of I ntegrity was late to bloom …
There is so much to say about the Calhoun days. More to come, Nell! The highest compliment that you think I nailed it, because you were there from the day I was and then 4 years beyond. Judging from the Duran Duran poetry, I missed some key years.
At my next School, the most I got away with was taking a few liberties with iambic pentameter.
In high school I once walked in after lunch break with a can of beer that I was casually drinking. I was a senior and honestly couldn’t see this being an issue. After all, when I was a junior I used to go to NYC clubs like CBGBs or Max’s Kansas City to see such bands as X-Ray Spex, Richard Hell and the Voidoids, Blondie, The Shirts etc., and always be served the two drink minimum without ever being asked for ID. (In those days, the legal drinking age in New York was 18, and, maybe because it was assumed that most patrons didn’t arrive by car or maybe because in the ’70s nobody gave a crap about anything in New York, in Manhattan you were never asked for ID. I was even served liquor as a teenager when a friend took me to The Playboy Club near The Plaza Hotel.) I would either order wine, beer or the two sweet cocktails I was aware of and which were then quite fashionable: Tequila Sunrise or Sloe Gin Fizz.
In any case, my high school principal got wind of me bringing in a can of beer and I was lectured by him and had to get a signed note from one of my parents informing them about it. And worst of all, I had to surrender the can of beer which was still half full.
It’s incredible that there was a time no one asked for ID. How did 45-year-old women delude themselves that cashiers and bartenders really thought they looked 25 years younger?
I can’t believe you didn’t tell your principal to dorp dead.