beavis and butthead

Exit 244. Sunshine blogger award.

I had nothing to write about this week. Conveniently enough, Charlene at Curiosity & Confession nominated me for the Sunshine Blogger Award. Thank you! That means I get to answer a bunch of questions about myself, and then nominate people to answer different questions about themselves.  I know I’ve gotten nominated for a few of these before.  I don’t remember if I’ve done this exact one, but the questions are different every time, so it doesn’t matter.

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you.
  • Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you.
  • Nominate new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award in your post/or on your blog.
  • Notify the nominees about it by commenting on one of their blog posts.
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These are the questions I got from Charlene. There were 12 of them, even though there were supposed to be 11, so you get a bonus question.

Where do you get your news? Mostly from the website for the major newspaper in my area.

If your job gave you a surprise paid three days off, what would you do those three days? I’m a teacher, so I have long periods of not having to go to work on a regular basis. But if it happened unexpectedly, I’d spend at least one day sitting around the house being lazy and catching up on cleaning. And if my friends were doing anything spontaneous, I’d be a lot more likely to go along with it than I normally am on a weeknight. Maybe I’d take a day trip to eat at an In-N-Out Burger I’ve never been to before (I’ve been to 116 different locations). But anything more adventurous would require a lot of advance planning and mentally getting myself ready, not something I can handle in three days.

What is something that you resent paying for? Other people’s abortions, via my tax dollars. (Please don’t argue about abortion or politics in my comments. A question was asked, and I answered it.)

What is the most expensive thing you have broken? A few women’s hearts. I’m not good at having the conversation when someone is into me and I’m not really into them like that. However, I’ve been on the receiving end of those conversations far more often than the giving end.

What was cool when you were younger, but is not cool now? Vanilla Ice. When I was 14 years and 2 months old, he was the coolest thing I had ever seen. I had outgrown him and his music by the time I was 14 years and 3 months old.

What is something that no matter how evolved we become will always be popular? Breathing. Breathing has been in style since prehistoric times. Either that or the Rolling Stones, since they’ve already been popular for over half a century.

Who do you go out of your way to be nice to? Going out of my way to be nice is kind of my default. However, if you’re openly angry about how much you hate people with my beliefs and opinions, then I’m going to go out of my way to ignore you as much as possible.

Who was your craziest/ most interesting teacher? What grade did they teach? I’ve had a lot of crazy and interesting teachers.  And this is a hard one to answer, because I’ve had a lot of favorite teachers for reasons that “crazy” and “interesting” don’t describe.  (I could say that I’m my own craziest teacher, because I’m sure a lot of my students would say I’m crazy and interesting, but that’s a cop-out.)  The first one who comes to mind was my PE teacher in 9th grade, because of the nicknames he would give some students (for example, there was a kid who always wore a blue hoodie, not sure if it was gang related or not, but this teacher always called him “Little Blue Riding Hood”).  He also made up names for some of the activities we would play; the flag football class championship was called the Toilet Bowl, and when we would have to run two miles on the day before a long holiday, it was called the Turkey Trot (Thanksgiving), the Reindeer Romp (Christmas), and the Bunny Hop (spring break, which included Easter).  I think those are the right names.  I wrote more about him, including a hilarious quote, a few years ago when he passed away.

What are some red flags to watch out for in your daily life? People who say they care about you but are always too busy for you, especially if said people are significant others.

If you could move one character to play in a different movie, what character would it been and to what movie/show? Barry Goldberg on Beavis and Butthead. That could be interesting…
Barry: “And so I pass into Hyperspace, Maybe you can follow me
Where I will be starting my own rap colony”
Butthead: ” “Uhhhh… this guy sucks.”

What actor/actress plays the same role in almost every movie or show they do? Jack Black comes to mind. He’s really good at that one role.

What protagonist from book or movie would make the worst roommate or spouse? There was this one character, I don’t remember what movie he was from, where he would interrogate his roommate every time his roommate had a new woman in his life, and lecture him about Christian purity and how great it is not to kiss until your wedding day (the roommates were both adults, it should be pointed out). And sometimes he would wander around the house talking to himself about how messy and immature his roommate is (the roommate found out because the guy didn’t realize his roommate was home). He told his roommate on numerous occasions that he was immature and weak in his Christian faith because he played video games, and how he was wasting his time by having friends who weren’t Christians and not was actively trying to convert them. I can’t remember… what movie was that from?… oh wait, it wasn’t a movie, IT WAS REAL LIFE.

I don’t like nominating people for these, so if you want to be nominated, go ahead and do this. 🙂 And if you are nominated, leave a comment below so people can go check out your blog. The rest of you, go check out some new blogs in the comments.  Seriously, don’t forget that part, because that’s the point of these blog awards.

My questions for you:

  • What place would you most like to visit right now, if neither time nor money were a factor?
  • What is the farthest away from home you’ve ever been?
  • What is the longest you’ve ever waited in line, and what was it for?
  • What is the weirdest or most noteworthy story you have about how you met one of your friends?
  • What is something you liked to eat as a kid, but you don’t like anymore?
  • If you could bring back one discontinued product, what would it be?
  • What was your least favorite thing about school?
  • If you could change one law/rule/etc. that applies to you, what would it be?
  • Who is your celebrity crush?
  • If you could change your name, what would you change it to?  And if you like your name the way it is, why?
  • What’s that band/singer/musician that you’re a fan of, but you’re kind of embarrassed to admit it? Come on, everyone has one.

Exit 143. That would be cool. Huh-huh.

As I suspected, the changing of the calendar from 2016 to 2017 has not seemed to slow down celebrity deaths.  But the passing of memorable and influential individuals hit home twice within the last couple weeks.  A coworker of mine who taught special education and was involved in a number of student activities left two months ago for medical reasons and ended up being a lot sicker than anyone thought.  I found out Tuesday morning that she didn’t make it.  There is much I could say about her, but my thought for this week concerns someone else who passed this month.  I hadn’t seen this other individual in over 20 years.

Mrs. J, as I’ll refer to her here, taught English at the high school I attended.  I never actually had her for a teacher myself, but I knew her because she was our class advisor.  Also, I knew her daughter, who was the same year as me.  I haven’t stayed in touch with her, or her daughter, so I just found out about this a few days ago when a friend from high school posted Mrs. J’s obituary on Facebook.  Although I never had Mrs. J as a teacher, she was involved with one of the most significant memories I have from that era, one which I still mention now as a major turning point in my life.

I wrote a bit about my high school experience a couple years ago (Highway Pi #26), and as I said before, I was pretty sheltered, and I kept to myself a lot.  I did homework during lunch, and I pretty much never saw people from school outside of school other than the occasional sporting event or dance that I would attend at the school.  A lot of people were nice to me, though, encouraging me to get more involved with the school.  About a month into senior year, I was sitting in the walkway reading when two other seniors walked by, reminding me that we had a class meeting during that lunch period to discuss Homecoming activities.  I didn’t usually get involved with that kind of stuff, but for some reason, I decided to go with them this time.  Maybe because it was senior year, and it was my last chance to get involved with school activities.  So I followed them to the meeting, in Mrs. J’s room.

I know that I have a few readers outside the USA… I’m not sure how it works everywhere else, but homecoming is a time in the fall when a variety of school activities are planned, usually in the week leading up to the first football game played at home against a league opponent.  It is tradition for alumni of the school to return home to watch that game.  At the school I attended (this part is not something that all American high schools do), we had a rally during homecoming week in which each class would perform some sort of skit, and planning the skit was on the agenda for this meeting that I attended.  Our class usually did a skit involving characters from some movie or TV show that was popular at the time (the early ’90s).  As juniors, our skit was based on the movie Wayne’s World, for example.

When the time came to talk about the skit, Mrs. J suggested we do something based on popular characters again.  “Like, maybe, Beavis and Butthead?” she said.  Several people started laughing and expressing their approval.  I scrunched my face into my best Butthead impression, and said, “Huh-huh.  Huh-huh.  That would be cool.  Huh-huh.”  Someone pointed at me and said, “I think he’s going to be playing Butthead!”

Beavis and Butthead aired on MTV between 1993 and 1997.  It was the brainchild of the brilliant dark satirist Mike Judge, who later brought us other brilliant satire like King of the Hill, Office Space (note: link contains inappropriate language), and Idiocracy (note: link contains a bare butt farting).  It was about the misadventures of two dumb teenage boys, their obsession with bodily functions and dirty jokes, and their commentary on music videos.   For me, the quiet kid who helped people with their math homework and sat in the corner reading during lunch, to get up in front of the whole school and act like Butthead surprised a lot of people.

And it felt so freeing.

It was the first time I had ever done something like that in front of a crowd.  And it was awesome.  Not scary like I expected.  To this day, people often ask me why I like Beavis and Butthead, because it’s so stupid, and after saying something about Mike Judge’s brilliant satire, I add that it reminds me of the first time I ever got up in front of a crowd and did something silly and out of character, and how it really did feel like life was going to change once I realized that I was capable of doing this.

Thank you, Mrs. J, for the suggestion.  May you rest in peace.

Exit 26. And now, 20 years later, no one cares.

If you are my friend in real life right now, then this weekend you saw me tagged in a bunch of pictures on Facebook having a great time with people who you’ve never seen before.  Who are these people? you might be asking.  Do you have a secret second group of friends that you spend time with?  Why haven’t I ever met these other friends of yours?  Are you sneaking around on us?

For one thing, I’m being dramatic here; if you’re really thinking that, you’re too clingy.  But seriously, those people were my friends from high school.  This weekend was my class reunion.

I told a few people this last week that I was going to my high school reunion.  One response I got repeatedly, particularly from females in their early 20s, was something along the lines of “I don’t ever want to go to my high school reunions.  I only had three friends in high school, I still see all of them, and the rest of my class were a bunch of backstabbing jerks and bitches.”  Some people have this stereotype that at high school reunions, that people stay in their cliques and act just as immature and dramatic as they did in high school, putting people down who don’t meet their shallow standards and making people feel badly about themselves.

My recent high school reunion, as well as the last one 10 years ago, were the exact polar opposite of that stereotype.

It was a fairly small crowd, considerably smaller than the last one.  But it was a crowd that included people from many different walks of life and high school social circles.  There were old friends who I’m sporadically in Facebook contact with, old friends I haven’t seen in 19 or 20 years, people I had classes with but didn’t know well, and people I barely knew at all.  And everyone was so nice and so happy to see each other.  Saturday night we met at a bar, and I had dinner with a smaller subset before that.  Sunday afternoon, we had a family-friendly barbecue and picnic, so that we could meet everyone’s children and look at old yearbooks and pictures and talk about how funny everyone’s hair was 20 years ago.

High school was a very interesting time for me.  I felt like I transcended cliques, and I never felt like there were people I didn’t want to see, because I stayed out of petty drama.  I kept to myself a lot for the first two and a half years and mostly only talked to people when they were asking me for help in class.  I didn’t shy away from all school activities, though; I went to football games, about half the dances (where I would spend a lot of time watching and occasionally get on the floor and be an awkward white boy), and drama and dance performances (because I knew people in them).  I started spending more time with people the last year and a half, and I got involved in more student activities as well.  I spent most of the time around the other students in honors and AP classes.  But I also had friends in the band and student government circles, because they were the rest of the students in the AP classes, and friends from other groups, because we had a class together at some point, or knew each other in middle school before the honors students’ schedules began to diverge.

I was really afraid of a lot of things, though.  I grew up very sheltered, and I didn’t really know how to make friends or be a friend.  I was used to getting teased and bullied all the time, and I wasn’t used to people being nice to me.  But most of my high school classmates actually were nice to me.  I was talking to someone about this over the weekend, and she said that no one really knows who they are in high school, that I wasn’t alone in being scared and confused.  I think the difference is that a lot of people put up a façade to get people to like them, whereas I just didn’t actively try to get anyone to like me.  But occasionally people would see the real me peeking through, and they probably liked what they saw, because, especially as I got older, friends would invite me to things and encourage me to get involved.  I did to some extent; the time I was in a skit in front of the whole school, playing Butthead, still feels like a major turning point in my life.  But I also turned some invitations down, just because I was afraid and unsure of myself.

I think a lot of the things that kept me from doing more in high school were just in my head.  In addition to being afraid and sheltered, I also felt like an outsider.  I didn’t grow up with those kids, and even though I went to school with them from the middle of 7th grade onward, it took a few years to get over the feelings of being an outsider.  The reason I felt like an outsider was a secret that I had kept for 26 years, until last night.

This high school serves a number of rural and semi-rural communities in the area north of two medium-sized cities on California’s Central Coast.  But I did not live in any of those communities.  I actually lived in one of the two nearby cities (the less glamorous one, according to most people), three blocks from another high school.  My dad went to that other school, class of ’67, and my brother went to that other school, class of 2000.  (Mom went to Catholic school in that same town.)  Only a few close friends knew that I lived in town, and the ones who knew never knew how I ended up at their school.  And I had never told any of them until this weekend, when it came up in a few conversations.

From April of 5th grade to October of 7th grade (1987-88), I was in a full day special education class for students with behavioral and emotional disabilities.  I was the kid who was teased and bullied constantly, and I would just sit there and take it and take it until I had a violent outburst.  During that year and a half, there were never more than 10 students in the class, and they were almost all boys who were far less successful in mainstream classes than I was.  Eventually it came to the point where they were talking about gradually transitioning me back to mainstream classes, so from October until January of 7th grade I was only in the special ed classes for half the day, and I started taking three periods at a regular public middle school.  For logistical purposes, combined with the fact that I wanted a fresh start away from my childhood bullies, I would walk half a mile from the school that hosted the special ed class to the middle school in that town, which was nine miles from my house, one town over from where I lived.  After a few months (January 1989), that was going well enough that I started going there for the full day, and from then until my graduation in June 1994, I attended school in that district with kids from those towns.  Given my history of being bullied and teased for just about every reason, it’s perfectly understandable that I didn’t want my friends to know that I had spent a year and a half in a class for students with behavioral and emotional disabilities.  Right?

One of my friends whom I told that to last night, when I mentioned that this was the first time I’d ever shared that, said, “And now, 20 years later, no one cares.”  She’s totally right, which is why I’m sharing it on this very public blog where anyone in the world might read it and share it with their friends.  My friends in high school were able to accept me even though I was a little different, and that has only gotten better with time.

I’ve always known that I’d want to go to every high school reunion.  I grew so much as a senior, and then abruptly everyone graduated and scattered.  I’ve often wondered how much more I might have grown had I had one more year with those friends.  I can’t change that now.  But what I can do is make more of an effort to keep in contact with these people.  My Class of 1994 friends really were a special group that made a big difference in my life.  And after this weekend, I know I’m glad to have these people in my life.  Hopefully I’ll see some of you again soon without waiting another five or ten years.

And a postscript: While I stayed out of drama in high school, I did unfriend someone from high school a couple years ago on Facebook for petty reasons.  He commented to one of my friends to say hi to me even though I unfriended him.  As soon as I got home that night, I apologized and re-friended him.