I learnt everything I knows just by watching television. I didn't need no nothing else. I doubt yous could tell that just by seeing at me. They say that too much TV watching stunts you emotionally. I see no evidence of that. I must admit I knowed far more from watching Welcome Back Kotter than I ever did actually going to some lame 10th grade class. Now I'm reminded that we're fast approaching my twenty-year high schools reunion. It's hard to believe it's been twenty years. Feels more like 23.
Somebody once said that when you reach the point where you repeat yourself, where you are redundant, where you say something more than you need to, where you repeat yourself over and over, it's time to hang it up. I was a bitter bitter young man by the time I was in my senior year of high school, spinning my wheels and biding my time, counting the days until graduation. I just wanted out. I wanted to be anywhere but where I was. Everybody that signed my yearbook essentially wrote the same comment, "you're a funny guy but you are so anti-social..." I was so looking forward to going to college where I'd be around people that cared about things other than what high school life was like in Roseville, Minnesota. One of the reasons I chose my alma mater, that fine institution of higher learning Macalester, was that no one else from my high school was also going there.
The one thing I remember enjoying about my last few months at Frank B. Kellogg Senior High was striking up a nice little friendship with the class party girl, Rachel Fasciana. Not only did Rachel like to hang out smoking with all the druggie boys, she also spent a record amount of time in detention. Rachel and I were assigned seats next to each other in shop class and for some reason we really hit it off. One of us was a burn out the other one was burnt out. She used to think I was extremely smart. I used to think she was extremely unpretentious. In the end only one of us was right.
One of our few common interests was music. I was in my Beatles phase and would occasionally serenade Rachel with a Paul song. She was into Black Sabbath and every morning we'd greet each other with the goal post like index finger, pinky finger erect, thumb to the side devil worshipping salute. "Sabbath rules," we'd chortle to each other.
I've always kind of wondered what happened to Rachel and where she ended up. Indeed the memory of her smiling eyes came tumbling back to the forefront of my noggin the past few weeks when a kind co-worker taped a couple of episodes for me of that pop culture smash hit, MTV's The Osbournes. And like just about everyone else who has seen the show, I find Ozzy's rather mumbling, stumbling, ambling current state of being and parenting skills rather humorous to watch.
This past week my sister took her son to Milwaukee for him to participate in a chess tournament. In her absence she asked me to teach her Asian-American studies class at Hamline University. There is a good reason I never joined the rest of my siblings in the teaching profession. It may have to do something with what all my classmates wrote in my yearbook all those years ago.
Going in I was a bit afraid of coming off as an Asian-American version of Ozzy Osbourne- only without the every other word being a "f" word vocabulary. My mind does to tend to wander these days. Instead after hearing presentations about how Asian-Americans are portrayed in movies, the federal government proposal to dismantle the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the history of Asian-American literature in the United States, and the Asian-American gay community's relationship with the rest of the country's gay community, I realized not all has gone downhill in the old mental faculties department since I myself was a college student.
The class and I had a decent discussion. I doubt they learned much from me but I learned from them that there still may be some learning to do outside of watching TV. And I'm sure Rachel Fasciana would have been most impressed by my devil may care substitute teaching performance.