“I WILL WORK YOU LITTLE MAGGOTS until you vomit, and then, if you still think this is funny, I will make you feign intercourse with that same puddle of congealed cafeteria food you just puked up, you short-dicked bunch of flabby-armed future republicans!”
I’m fourteen, it’s 1985, and even now the thing I remember most about Mr. Joanne was how much he felt like a giant walking between us all, and how I felt like a goldfish trying to hide in a piranha tank during his class.
He barked and we were silent. Tight fitting cap, tennis socks pulled up to the knees, snarl, khaki shorts and plain white tee shirt, he commanded the entire gymnasium like a Hitler or a Napoleon or something.
His face was set in it’s features like stone, his huge Neanderthal jaw permanently locked in a grimace reminiscent of a man who had been recently hit in the balls by a rubber bullet or a pointy-toed high heeled shoe. His eyes were always bugged out of his head, icy blue pinpoint centers with bloodshot highlights, blazing a combination of insecurity, rabidity, and complete insanity. The veins in his forehead undoubtedly throbbed purple underneath his ‘Property of Chesterfield Middle School Athletic Dept. XXXL’ cap.
We were all lined up in rows in alphabetical order, white t-shirts and blue shorts, backs straight and eyes staring forward. It was mid-semester, eighth grade gym class. Mr. Joanne, the gym teacher, with his face made out of chiseled rocks and points of blue ice, screamed at us because we were talking and laughing before he came out of his office again. Mr. Joanne was about six-foot-four inches of raw, untamed muscle. He was an ex-prison warden. He paced the aisles of perfectly lined up kids, all boys. This wasn’t a co-ed gym class at all. Each boy is about eight or ten feet from the next one in his row, and Mr. Joanne weaves tiger-like through the gaps between us, looking for inconsistencies in uniform. Mr. Joanne passed by me, and I was careful to keep my eyes staring straight ahead, careful not to glance at one of his throbbing tattooed biceps as it passed by my head.
He walked past me, sneering like a shark with peanut putter stuck to the roof of it’s mouth, and went on to the next kid in line, Johnny Bronson.
Next to me, Johnny Bronson looked sternly up at Mr. Joanne like he was his father. Johnny Bronson didn’t avert his gaze from Mr. Joanne, knowing that even though he was one of the perpetrators in question, guilty of laughing and talking before Mr. Joanne entered the gymnasium, nothing would probably happen to him personally. There was to be no domestic woman-chirping in Mr. Joanne’s gymnasium, but rules like that were made to have exceptions.
“None of you little baby girls are laughing now, huh? Nothing’s really funny when I’m right here,” he pauses and suddenly screams ‘right here!’ into the face of one of the boys who was one of the laughers. I think his name was Tim or maybe Jeff. He turned around from the boy immediately and paced, paced, paced, until he stopped again in front of Johnny Bronson.
“Mr. Bronson are you ready to play a game today!?”
“Sir, yes, sir!”
“Good! Do you know of a student who might not be prepared for war this morning?”
Johnny loosened up a little and shrugged his shoulders. Johnny’s dad and Mr.