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I awoke early this morning because my allergies were killing me and two words were echoing in my mind. It caused me to wake even more, why were they in my head, I hadn’t thought them in years. Mr. Meckna. He was a very handsome youngish teacher who taught a Poli Sci “Current Events” class when I was in 10th grade. His name makes my stomach drop with shame. Weakness is never something I have never hid well. It’s also something I seem to have a problem using to my advantage. Weakness when acknowledged can help you grow stronger but sometimes it just keeps you in place.

Before I go on with Mr. Meckna, let me take you back in history so you can really understand my shame. When I was in 1st grade I drove my teacher nuts. She was a nice teacher but whenever it was time to read aloud she always became upset with me. She would tell me to stop horsing around and quit disrupting the class. But I wasn’t... I just didn’t get her. Shortly after she started to skip over me and spend a little extra time with me one on one... And get even more frustrated. By the end of the year I was asked to leave class when it came time for English. I was sent to another class with big kids. I had been given some test a few weeks earlier and they thought I should spend time in this class. I guess I was driving the teacher so crazy by skipping all over the place and putting word in that weren’t there to her, that she had some tests done that showed I was dyslexic. They also decided to test my trouble-making brother. He has always been a Bart Simpson, so they never noticed; they just thought he was a bratty, trouble making kid... And well he was that too. I do wonder if they had caught it earlier if he would still have been the troublemaker he is...was...will continue to be.

Luckily it took a few year for me to realize where I had been put. When I was in Third grade I was waiting for my busy work to be graded, while a teacher was explaining to a sixth grader that if you take the word ear and add a H at the beginning that is how you spell hear. This is when I a 3rd grader who knew how to spell hear realized I had been stuck in a “special” class for those who aren’t smart enough be in class with everyone else. It was called RSP... I bet the S stood for special. They gave me busy work and never challenged me. I wasted away as far as English was concerned. Luckily my mom took us to UCLB for extra lessons from master’s students who were studying learning disabilities. I learned to cope with the dyslexia. I wanted to get out of RSP, I didn’t like being labeled stupid, and I didn’t like being treated like I was.

I didn’t get out Of RSP until I was in 8th grade. I was so happy to be put in a Below Average English class with the ESL students. I got all A’s in that class. My brother however was still in RSP and had just retired the first of many teachers. It had made him famous, he still claims he wasn’t doing anything when the feared math teacher started to strangle my brother. Poor Mr. Goldhammer was forced into an early retirement for trying to kill my brother... I though he should have been given an award. Sadly three other teachers would go the way of Goldhammer before my brother was done with his schoolin’.

For some strange reason toward the end of my eighth grade year I was asked if I wanted to be involved in a magnet program at Poly High. I would be going to 9th grade in high school rather than at a Jr high school and I would no longer be following in my brother’s footsteps to Milliken high school. My brother was always one of the most popular kids- like Bart Simpson and I was always a not so smart but still unpopular Lisa. I was picked on and teased, even by kids younger than me because that is what they saw my brother doing. I would have gone to school in Compton to get away from my brother. One problem they didn’t have below English... They didn’t even offer Regular English, they only offered Excellerated. I was going to have to make a big jump. I was ready.

Weakness when show to some people will be rewarded with nurturing and care while others see it as a sign to attack. I hadn’t learned this when I started my 9th Grade English Class. Ms. Greaves had an appropriate sounding name. She hated all men and any girl who dressed the slightest bit provocatively... I went to her on one of the first days and tried to explain to her my situation. I had been trained to go for pity with my dyslexia, besides I was still resigned to the idea that I really wasn’t that smart. Ms. Greaves wasn’t one to help me think better of myself. I did so much extra credit due to misspelled words and the occasional transposition of letters. I swore this woman hated me more than the other boys... But at least she didn’t spend 10 minutes projecting the hair loss pattern I would have by pulling back my hair to show how it would U like she did to a few other boys in the class. I never hated English as much as I did in her class. I still hate the mere idea of “Great Expectations” with its sentences that seemed to go for pages and contain a minimum of four commas.

Luckily I would latter have good English teacher who would get me to read for pleasure and to enjoy the books they would pick. I had a great English teacher two years in a row who had a new obsession each year and we would read tons of book on her obsession. It was Puritans one year and South Africa another. I aced a history class in college without reading very much because I already knew everything about puritans.

But Back to Mr. Meckna, He never called me by my name, he always called me Martin. It took me forever to figure out why. I love the band the Pogues an Irish band and he liked them to, so I guess he took special notice of me. The leader of the IRA at that time had the same last name as me... Which I didn’t know until I talked to the Mr. Meckna after class one day. I was doodling and barely paying attention, but I was listening when Mr. Meckna was asking Martin to answer a Question, since my name is Eric I didn’t respond waiting for Martin to answer. “Martin you damn terrorist, pay attention.” he yelled at me much to my confusion. Anytime a teacher calls you a terrorist for no reason you really do need to ask why? I guess the leader of the IRA was named Martin and he just decided to call me that instead. I figured, great another teacher who doesn’t like me.

Somehow the kids in my class were getting the answers to Mr. Meckna’s weekly Quizzes from an earlier class. One week we were told by the other class that the quiz was going to really long and he would read the questions. Of course on that day there was a piece of paper on his desk with a bunch of questions and answers. So of course kids began to copy the answers. This is where this gets hard to write. I was the lookout for Mr. Meckna; I never saw the questions or the answers. But someone made me a copy. When Mr. Meckna started to read the questions I wrote down the multiple-choice answer I was given. After about seven question went by I knew the right answer couldn’t be the one I was given. I figured it was written down wrong or something so I started to give my own answers unless I had no clue at all and then I would use the one we stole. When the test was over Mr. Meckna grabbed them all and graded them, which was odd normally he did this after class was over.

When he was finished he got up and gave a speech, “I’m very disappointed in all of you. You’ve been cheating and those of you who haven’t didn’t tell me others were, but I got you. I set up a sting. I placed the fake test with the wrong answers. Most of you got every answer wrong. I am so disappointed.” This is all paraphrase of course but what he said next will stay with me forever. “I was especially disappointed to see my favorite student being the lookout”

Favorite student? I thought but I was the lookout. I was already ashamed but was he saying he didn’t hate me that he didn’t really think I was a terrorist. That I was his favorite... It can’t be.

He stared me down, “some of you seemed to figure it out in time and not get to many answers wrong. Today’s lesson is going to be all about cheating and cheaters, I can’t begin to tell you how disappointed I am in all of you.” I’m still ashamed of myself. I never knew I was a teachers Favorite before and I upset him so much. I ruined it. Most teachers didn't notice me or were anoyed by me. I had my brother to overcome when I was younger and was so meek in high school i was barely noticable. It was a bittersweet, I couldn’t believe I was ever a teacher’s favorite let alone such a young cool and good-looking teacher. Did I ruin it, I'm really not sure.

I just checked out my schools homepage and he’s still there, maybe I will send him and email and see if he remembers me.

Photograph - Verve Pipe


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 29th, 2004 03:03 pm (UTC)
You Really Need To Link To your High School So "I", "WE" Can Check Out The "TEACH"....
Jun. 30th, 2004 10:06 am (UTC)
Unfortunately there are no pictures of him on the site (Just his email address). It would be interesting to see how he looks now. I did email him, I wonder if he will respond.
Jul. 1st, 2004 03:57 pm (UTC)
Let us know if he does.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )