Jan 18

Assault and Battery

By the time I was in my Senior Year of High School I lacked but a quarter credit of Gym to graduate and while I scheduled myself an apparently rigorous array of academics I didn’t really take it very seriously because what were they going to do? Flunk me?

Umm… as it turns out my Phys Ed teacher kind of resented that I’d used my Varsity Sport exemption (Swim Team) to avoid it 3 years running and made me ritually humiliate myself (I got detention and had to clean out everyone’s stinky locker) before he’d sign off, but other than that I had my own office (ok, technically I shared it with the other editors of the alternative student newspaper), a magical pass that made my presence optional after Home Room (again newspaper), and a well trained Home Room teacher I saw for about 3 weeks ever before she decided I was hopeless and disruptive (she wrote me a glowing recommendation in my yearbook).

So I was living the Ferris Bueller dream without having to cough up a lung. Oh yeah.

All of which goes to explain why I was running out of electives and decided to join Choir as well as Band because I needed something to amuse me besides tests and papers (which I dutifully continued to ace, #47 out of 735).

And the practice room was a convenient place to hang out and socialize if you weren’t a regular in the Smoking Lounge or didn’t like the lunchroom stink of the Commons or the solitary silent confinement of the Library (though I was welcome in all those places). If you were especially inoffensive yet involved you could even grab a chair in the office the Choir Conductor and the Band Director shared which was cool because they were padded and spun around and rolled, just like real office chairs.

The particular incident I’m about to relate took place before I made myself persona non grata by snitching in print (newspaper again) the Band Director was playing favorites in his grading (there were elements of religious and sexual discrimination too, but we couldn’t quite prove that) putting the kibosh on his promotion and ultimately costing him his job (who says actions don’t have consequences?). That’s not the piece I won a Columbia School of Journalism Award for anyway, that was a story proving God doesn’t exist (what about atheist are you not understanding?).

Anyway the Band Director was pretty much an ill tempered jerk, even to his colleagues, and unloved by Slytherin which, by definition, puts him lower than a snake’s belly. On this day when I wandered into the office, as was now my custom to establish my daily attendance, he was engaged in a phone dispute that made him very upset. He hung up with a bang and when the Choir Conductor made some mild remark like- “So what did he say?” he picked up the phone and threw it at him.

It was stopped only by the wire attaching it to the wall. Yes, I am old enough to remember when phones had wires.

Suddenly he noticed my presence and was all up in my face shouting and shaking his finger at me- “How long have you been there?”

Well, long enough to see you assault the Choir Conductor. Just like you’re assaulting me now. If you touch me, well, that would be battery.

That folks is the difference. I can assault you with mere words. If there is physical contact it’s not just assault but battery. They’re both classified as violent crimes. Something to remember in the #metoo moment.

I have mixed emotions. I have certainly made people feel bad and I think in every instance I was entirely justified in doing so. Non je ne regrette rien, the good, the bad, it’s all the same. On the other hand I was just a snot nosed smart ass and didn’t give a moment to consideration of the effect my choices made on the people around me. Indeed, I don’t today.

I suppose that makes me a horrible, or at least dangerous, person to know.