Thursday, 13 August 2020

Sinistrously Disposed

To the left, upon this day of the Lefthander International, pass the kouchie. That cute little version of the eighties lyric, bowdlerized for innocents, drug references replaced with food. Per the Wiki: "'Dutchie' has since become a drug reference, denoting a blunt stuffed with marijuana and rolled in a wrapper from a Dutch Masters cigar, since American and British listeners assumed that the term was a drug reference."

Sanitized, not for sinistrality to forsake, for clockwise remained the thing's direction of passing, but to forgo the perversion of the evil weed or, more accurately syntax'd, its active perverting of the innocent who might be so drawn into a circle of its community. The perversion of the weed would be burning it in a Dutch oven, and with or without the help of cooperative adult reverse misunderstanding, the youth are capable of being back-perverted — the right wrong way round.


As a youth who needed protection from an elder class, I had it. Twice, as told in the following two tales to bookend my time with a holy spirit:

From the outset, I must say that details, while twisted round in such a way that the accuracy is easily questionable, they maintain the integrity of the central point: the questioning of sinistrality.

With no more than eight years under my belted brown uniformed pants, I sat in silence with the rest of my third grade classmates, working on some sort of assignment, when Sister Linda approached me and enquired as to whether or not I had ever tried writing with my right hand.

Various versions of this event have, over the years, included, alternatively, a stronger suggestion, outright recommendation, or insistance; a test run at right-handedness; a reiteration of the brilliant idea during a personal conversation between the relevant adult guardians at a parent-teacher conference; and a telephone conversation some time after I'd returned home to recount whatever version I may or may not have recounted, during which Mama allowed Sister Linda to hear her sharpening her teeth, so she'd best know her place.

Now, did Sister Linda, in all her Catholic de-Magog-ing pedagogy, believe sinistrality to be sinister by its nature, or indeed its practitioners unnatural, perverse, perhaps even evil?  I don't know. I know that she approached and enquired as to whether or not I had ever given the right way a try. If it went any further than that, it wouldn't've been by very much, thank Ma.

The third grade took place in the primary building, which included two classes of about twenty-five each of grades one through three, and the music teacher's room.

After the third grade, one moves on to the big building, which included two classes of about twenty-five students from each grade, four through eight, various offices, a gymnasium with a stage at one end, under which contained were several large drawers with metal folding chairs for assemblies, and a cafeteria in the basement that almost never served as a cafeteria.

To the last point, the spoils, or the spoiled milk, which was the only provision regularly afforded the pupil body by the school, for the small fee of 10 cents a dance with its eight fluid ounces. For my entire eight years, it was Roberts brand. It was not really spoiled but you could have fooled me, and just about anyone else who partook, which was a significant enough number of us that someone from the class had to bring it up from the cafeteria on a tray just before lunch each day.

As I imagine it now, it might have been the carton-to-content ratio that contributed to its tasting as much like a carton as it did milk.

Eight years is a long time for someone who had yet to age beyond thirteen, and thirteen is a ripe age for someone to have found, by way of the course of those eight years, who their friends would turn out to be. For whatever reasons, mine were Jeff Higgins, Brian Haley, and Tom Pearson.

These were the three with whom I attended my first rock concert (the Permanent Waves Tour (from which "Natural Science" would remain distinguished (Steve Redmond gets honorable mention, with whom I later attended my second rock concert (Women and Children First (wherein that band distinguished themselves for having arrived at full-on poser mode, during which the notorious frontman held aloft a joint that had been, ostensibly, thrown to the stage and, in justifying his fearlessness at lighting it up, actually uttered the words "I was goddamn well born in Indiana!")))))

I'm not sure at whose behest, but, in the eighth grade, Jeff Higgins, Brian Haley, Tom Pearson, and I volunteered to take out the trash each day after lunch. I would imagine that Tom, coming from a good Catholic family of ten or more children, all of whom had probably attended the school, might have been the one to volunteer us, except that, as I recall, he was the one to have joined us later in the year after such time as to assess that even though he was popular enough to hang out with the more popular jocks and jockettes after lunch on recess, the popular kids were much bigger dicks than we were, all things considered.

I might also assume that Jeff had been the one to volunteer us. His family probably ran a close second as far as number of kids to have gone to the school. I can even imagine his coming to me to ask if I'd join him in the task, with Brian joining us later, having come to the same conclusion as Tom. And this might have an element of truth to it. For as I have just now considered (and it's a consideration that resembles recall, which makes the kind of sense that would make it more appropriate for the purpose of this story), it was probably Miss Richardson who approached one of us.

For it was Miss Richardson who probably recognised the relationship between Jeff Higgins, Brian Haley, Tom Pearson, and myself and decided to make good use of it. Somebody had to take out the trash. Who better than the left-handers?

What began as a tedious undertaking ended up being refuge from recess. At the conclusion of lunch each day, the four of us would go from classroom to classroom, dumping the smaller bags containing brown paper bags and sandwich baggies and breadcrusts and banana and orange peels and bones and balls of foil and barely emptied milk cartons into the 32 gallon barrel lined with trash bags.

It could be that the only reason we were afforded the big barrel on rollers was a feature of the permeability of the big white trash bags full of barely emptied milk cartons. The result ranged from a sporadic drip, to a steady stream of milk product from within the matching white plastic. Miss Richardson was nice enough to recognise that having us mop the halls every day was asking too much. So we wheeled, or rode, the barrel along the hallways, down to the triple-double glass doors at the back entrance of the big building.

It was from there that we would, in one big move, hoist each bag through the doors, down the dozen or so stairs, and swing it counter-clockwise 180° into the side opening of the dumpster at the bottom left side of the stairs. The space where that final, semi-circular sling to the left took place was normally a drive-thru drop-off point for parents leaving their kids. Conveniently, the primary building entrance was to the right and the big building rear entrance to the left. On the day in question, however, this space was parked-in with a row of cars, as depicted below.

It wouldn't take a rocket scientist to realise what would emanate from the back end of the bags in full swing. Indeed, none of us were rocket scientists and we all knew full well what we were doing when we began to increase the amount of oomph in our carries, hurling the bags into the back of the dumpster with a bang.

I can still picture Brian Haley's range of expression fall from full-on belly laughter to stone-dead seriousness all in one moment, the moment I had revolutionized our semi-circular swing into an all-out hammer throw. I amused Brian Haley easily, and he was my most enduring audience, as we'd end up being the only students who shared a home room each of our eight years.

Anyway, in the process of spinning like a top, I was veering closer to the parked cars than was remotely necessary, which was kind of the point: Our desire was to get the stream going in the direction of the wind-shields. As a result, the only glass unsoiled by that and several previous tosses were the glass doors through which Sister Linda had been watching for who knows how long. She had quite a picturesque perspective at the primary building entrance opposite our launching pad.

One or more things led to another, which had Miss Richardson at the top of the stairs just outside the big building doors, Sister Linda several feet below at ground level on the concrete slab outside the primary building doors, and Jeff Higgins, Brian Haley, Tom Pearson, and me sprinkled up and down the stairs between them.

In retrospect, it is fitting that Miss Richardson was towering over Sister Linda when she put her in her place, but what I've never known for sure is why she took our side with no if, and, or but.

It was not because of our excuse, though she may have used it as one herself in the moment, that normally those cars would not have been there. Upon further consideration, however, maybe there had been a related discussion between faculty about the use of that space that we weren't privy to. At any rate, after Sister Linda had gone, Miss Richardson made clear to us in no uncertain terms that she knew that we knew we were wrong.

In recall of some of the experiences made in that third grade, I find it probable that Sister Linda assisted amply in how she was perceived by others of the faculty, whether through the vine of wider-told childhood traumas, or by way of ill-tasting personal experience made by those who had to deal with her as a colleague. I've always liked to believe that Miss Richardson stood up for us because it was against the monster nun from the primary building. But there is another thing.

Credit this to my buddy Uwe, from when I told him this story: Somebody had to take out the trash.