By Mike Essington
In 1972 my world changed in a few ways. First, my dad moved out of our house. I was six, my brother two and my mom, a young twenty-four. I really didn’t know what was going on. There were arguments behind closed doors. I would knock and give them the rundown on what they were missing on an episode of Super-Friends.
Finally, one night my dad pulled me into their room and told me that he was moving. “From now on you are going to be the man of the house.” I was very happy about this promotion. I never felt my mom liked it, but I did.
Anyway, this transition affected me. I didn’t think it did at first, but shortly after my dad moved I was put into what my brother calls the “tard” class. My elementary school had a class for kids who were either slow or just plain had behavior problems. I guess after my parents split my mind was somewhere else.
I wasn’t aware that this class was a bad thing. It was a small class of kids and I was smarter than most of them, so I became “king of the ‘tards.”
It was about this time that my uncle Rick first introduced my brother and me to the Planet of The Apes. I loved the movies, and a few years later we would be addicted to the Saturday Morning Cartoon, and the Thursday Night show. My love of this show would have a lasting effect on my “tard” class.
One day I came to class with a book I wanted the teacher to read to the class, in other classes this would be an easy task, but the teaching style used with us, “the den of tards” was to ignore any interruptions or noises. This didn’t fly with me. I, sometimes, had something to add to a story or a question.
To understand what I did next let me explain a scene from one of my favorite Planet of The Apes movies. In Battle for The Planet of the Apes, there was a war between the different breeds of monkeys and apes. One side ran out of ammunition, so they all played dead until the enemy came. Then the ape general screams “Now, fight like apes.” They leap up, overpower the enemy and won the war.
I played this scene out many times on the playground. My classmates were my ape army. So, when the teacher was reading my book, she wasn’t showing the pictures. All teachers should stop and show pictures. I suggested she pause and show the related picture, she ignored me. So I put my hand up and said “excuse me” a few times. She continued to ignore me. At this point, my ape army was getting restless. So, I tried one last time, the arm up, and the “excuse me.” Nothing. The whole class was staring at me. I had no other choice I stood up and yelled: “Now, fight like apes!”
Every desk was overturned, chairs thrown. I sat back down and just took it all in. The teacher tried to continue, but finally yelled: “Make them stop!” My only reply was, “You could’ve shown us the pictures.”
This could have been the Genesis of the punk in me, or merely the inner asshole fighting to get out. Who knows?