Grown-ups, as smart as they think they are, are actually pretty stupid. And somebody must have decided that the stupidest of the grown-ups should work in schools, because here at Jefferson Elementary we’ve got some real doozies, like Mr. Clark, my fifth grade teacher. You want proof? Well, way back on the first day of school, before I’d even done anything yet, Mr. Clark lined everybody up in alphabetical order. Everybody except me. When he got to me he said, “Farve, why don’t you just head to the back. There’s no point in delaying the inevitable.”
I didn’t have the foggiest what that meant, but I went. And now, with just three weeks of school left, that’s still right where I’m standing, staring at the back of Randy Washington’s head, sweat running down my butt crack, thinking about how stupid Mr. Clark and all the rest of the grown-ups are.
Because what Mr. Clark doesn’t realize is that there’s nothing wrong with the back of the line. He’s way up there at the front, and with twenty-three kids between us, there’s no way he can see what I’m up to. You’d think teachers would figure this out, but Mr. Clark is the sixth teacher I’ve had that’s put me at the back. Now if that doesn’t prove how stupid grown-ups are, nothing will.
Today we’re off to the computer lab, and as we slog past our red lockers, Mrs. Kile’s head comes bobbing down the hall toward us. Mrs. Kile was my second grade teacher, so I know that by this time of year she’ll have a kid like me at the back of her line. I lean out to get a look at him. He’s this little runt of a sawed-off thing who doesn’t seem to care that he’s lagging behind his class by about ten feet. Sand-colored bangs hang in his face and his dirty tennis shoes are untied. It’s amazing he can walk without tripping.
Seeing those shoes gives me an idea, and as the class shuffles past I do some quick surveillance to make sure the coast is clear. Then, when that little midget comes scuffling alongside me, eyes glued to the hallway floor, I stick out my left foot and catch him flush on his ankle. He never sees it coming. Goes sprawling to the floor with a surprised little yelp. I prepare my “who me?” face and wait for him to cry out or yell, but he doesn’t say a thing, just sits there rocking with his hands wrapped around the top of his untied Nikes.
As we file into the computer lab the cold air from the A/C hits me, and I hear Mrs. Kile from down the hall. “Donnie!” she snarls. “Get up! How many times have I told you to tie those shoes? Maybe now you’ll listen!”
I smile. Some things never change.