Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tales from High School X - The Most Excellent Tragedy and Comedy of Señor Golbez, Philip, and Cooper

Hey readers, sorry it's been a while. For a variety of reasons, including moving, starting a new job, and holidays, I have been an absent blogger for too long. I also used up most of my favorite Lebowski tales, which left me without a strong direction for the blog. So I thought, what other parts of my life do I have stories from besides my family? Welcome to the latest addition to the Shorts Below Freezing family of anecdotes: Tales from High School X. The Tales from High School X will chronicle the highs and lows of my high school experience at an all-male Catholic high school (a great contributor to my renunciation of Catholicism!). To protect the innocent and guilty alike, we'll call this high school St. Francis High, which is not its real name. To give you a sense of the time frame, I attended St. Francis High from 1997-2001. This first set of tales begins in the Fall of 1998, at the dawn of my sophomore year.

While I took French in high school, other friends of mine took Spanish, as so many high schoolers do. That year, the school hired a new Spanish teacher, a native speaker originally from Venezuela. This man has been mentioned before, rivaling Uncle Vinnie Jerboa in the world of self-believed lies: Bellido Alejandro Golbez. My good friend Dan Hellion would fill me in after every class about this new Spanish teacher. He was a riot, making jokes all the time, talking about attractive women and popular music, and had strange and original ideas for assignments. One assignment was to watch the Miss Universe competition on television and write about who was the most attractive, with a caveat that selecting Miss Puerto Rico would likely result in a high grade. Another assignment was to write two pages. About anything at all. In English. For a Spanish class. Dan, curious about Bellido's facility with more obscure English vocabulary strung together dozens of random 3-4 syllable words. When the paper was returned to him, two words were circled at random with the comment "That is so true!" added.

Señor Golbez was so entertaining that Dan introduced me to him, and we and a few other students would visit him before homeroom and at the end of the day, which was always a laugh. Before long, Bellido started to think of us as his friends, rather than his students, and insisted we never call him Mr. Golbez. Some of the wacky things he said once we were in his inner circle are stories for another entry. Today is about his dealings with another student, a student named Phil Mead. Phil was half-Spanish, and spoke Spanish with near fluency, so he was in the Sophomore Spanish class even though he was a Freshman. However, Phil was not the best student, in spite of his background, so his performance in class was average. Phil also was excitable and prone to zoning out. He was an easy target for some of the more prank-prone sophomores in his class.

Early in the year, Phil had the misfortune of sitting in front of a student named Cooper Walton. Cooper was the type of guy who had no problem with getting a laugh at someone else's expense, and wasn't all that interested in paying attention in class. One day, the custodians had changed the florescent lights in the ceiling, and had left a long tube florescent light bulb on the floor in the back of the room, near where Cooper and Phil were seated. Cooper, bored in class while Mr. Golbez was writing on the board, picked up the light bulb and started swinging it around like a lightsaber. To earn chuckles from his peers, or maybe just to stave off boredom, Cooper even started making lightsaber sound effects. Golbez's ears perked up. His turn around was imminent. Cooper had to think fast. Luck was with him.

Phil, sitting in front of him, was daydreaming, totally oblivious to the goings on nearby. He had the misfortune of having one of his hands open and visible to Cooper. In the instant before Golbez could turn around, Cooper slapped the bulb into Phil's hand, which gripped it reflexively. By the time Golbez saw the scene, Phil was staring agape at the tell-tale weapon in his hand. "PHILIP!" gasped Golbez, seemingly shocked and offended, "How DARE you disrupt the class in this ways?" Phil tried to protest his innocence, "But dude, it was Cooper! Cooper did it!" Mr. Golbez would not believe this apparent lie, "Philip, you are clearly holdings of evidence. You go to the office!" (Golbez sometimes tripped up his English a bit). Philip was sent to the office, in spite of his pleas.

The antagonistic relationship continued. During a test one day, students had to take turns going up to Mr. Golbez's desk to do a brief oral component of the exam. Each would come up in turn, then go back to their desk to continue the written work silently. When it was Phil's turn, Cooper turned Phil's desk around backwards while he was up at the front, then locked his legs into the desk to prevent righting it. Phil came back and stage whispered his anger to Cooper: "Dude! Stop turning my desk, I need to sit down!" Cooper ignored him and continued to lock the desk in place. Phil struggled to wrench it free, causing a bit of a ruckus. Golbez looked up from the student he was working with now and said "Philip! Stop this noise and sit down at once!" "Dude, I'm trying!" Phil gave up his struggle and sat in the desk facing backwards. Almost immediately this was noticed and Phil was once again ejected from the classroom, this time for trying to cheat by turning his desk to see other papers. This poor kid could not catch a break. It didn't help that Mr. Golbez was pretty much incapable of seeing or responding to any disruptions but the most obvious.

As the year continued on, Phil decided he'd had enough of Coopers constant torment. One day, tired of Cooper flicking him in the ear and whispering to him, Phil raised his hand and asked, "Señor Golbez, can I move to the empty seat in the front?" Seeing nothing wrong with this request, Golbez readily agreed. "Of COURSE, Philip, please come up to the front!" Phil gathered his things and headed up to the front, stopping to turn and deliver a smug victory look at Cooper. This would not stand, Cooper decided. "Mr. Golbez? I can't see the board, can I move up to that empty seat behind Phil's new seat?"

"But of COURSE, Cooper!"

There's plenty more Golbez stories, and other Tales from High School X, so stay tuned!