All The Small Things: Learn to read, bro!

Early 2000s this song was all the rage,
Blink was at their best, adulthood still seemed far away,
Here it comes, a short story from high school English class,
Truthfully this little memory always got me laughing like an ass.

You know, of all the teachers that I’ve had during my high school years my English teacher (let’s call him Mr. Porter) during the ninth grade was one of whom that I felt sorry for. My tutor class at the time had more than a few rowdy students among the ranks and while some teachers were able to maintain a cool demeanor in the face of some of their more extreme antics Mr. Porter sometimes lost his cool, shouting himself hoarse trying to retain control while they carried on like fools.

In one ear and out the other. Day after day after day.

Poor guy. He was great at what he did and he deserved a lot better. But what can you do? Some of my peers just happened to be straight-up idiots.
But it wasn’t all bad. There were definitely times where he found himself strangely amused at some of their milder hijinks, probably to his surprise. He sometimes allowed himself to shake his head and chuckle at their lunacy before calmly reprimanding them as long as their inane chatter, little slapping contests and silly games of ‘who tapped me?’ didn’t escalate into all-out war. Such was the case one day when we, as a class, were reading a novel together in relation to a particular assignment, students called out at random to read three to five pages each.

As an introvert I would sit behind my desk silently praying that I wouldn’t be called out. On this particular day one of those knucklehead students, a tough kid that we’ll call Chuck who looked like the love-child of the late Chris Farley and Steve Stifler, albeit with a permanent scowl on his face, was asked by Mr. Porter to read three pages. Much to Mr. Porter’s disbelief and the class’ amusement, Chuck’s mind was someplace else other than the classroom and it took three calls of his name before he was roused from his daydream.
“CHUCK! Please read the next three pages!”
Chuck immediately snapped out of his trance.
“Oh shit, what’s up, sir!?”
“Three pages, Chuck. Start reading.”
Chuck’s seatmate, a lanky, well groomed student with a booming laugh that we’ll call Jim, couldn’t resist the opportunity to crack a joke at his portly friend’s expense, despite knowing that he would be on the wrong end of a beating for his audacity.
“He said ‘start reading’ you moron!” laughed Jim, “clean your ears out!”
“Fuck you!” snapped Chuck, eliciting nervous laughter from his peers.
“Ok, enough of that,” interjected Mr. Porter, “Chuck, please start reading.”

Grumbling, Chuck picked up his book and began to read – only to accidentally mispronounce one of the words.
Jim immediately threw his head back and began to laugh hysterically, rocking back and forth on his chair while doing so. His pride and ego obliterated, Chuck immediately wrapped one of his huge arms around Jim’s neck for a headlock while the other rammed a couple of punches to his rib cage.
“You better shut the fuck up!” growled Chuck, his face red and crumpled with rage.
“You need to learn to read, bro!” countered Jim, the headlock failing to quell his laughter.
By now, the rest of the class was in hysterics which only added to Chuck’s anger. If he had it his way he probably would have gone all Mike Tyson on all of us, even the girls. Throughout all this, Mr. Porter seemed to struggle to maintain his composure, his face reddening from the effort required to keep himself from laughing. But once Chuck decided to use his fists the teacher put an end to the fiasco.
“Ok, class, quiet, please!” he ordered, “Chuck, please start reading and Jim, keep quiet.”
Chuck released Jim from his grip and began to read as his seatmate buried his face in his hands and continued to laugh. Jim’s giggling only served to stir up the fury within Chuck once more and as he read his tone began to slowly rise and his perpetual scowl was beginning crumple. He was like a dormant volcano slowly reawakening, ready to erupt and Jim would be the sole casualty.

After three pages Chuck seized the opportunity to have the last laugh over his seatmate and without warning, he forcefully shoved Jim on the shoulder, sending him flying off his chair and onto the floor as the laughs rang out once more. A bemused Mr. Porter could only look on and shake his head.
Jim lay on the floor laughing. The punishment he received was merely a small price to pay for humiliating the angry gorilla sitting next to him, who was now looking down at him with a wicked grin on his face.
Once Jim had climbed off the floor and back onto his chair, Mr. Porter put an end to the party.
“Ok, class, enough. Let’s continue reading.”
He instructed another student to read a few pages and with that, peace was restored once more.

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