Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Classroom Redux

Addendum to the post a page or so down . . .

My high school was a funny place. Not funny "ha! ha!" either. Funny like, "mmmmmmm," or "funny in the head."

They did regular locker checks. While we were in class they'd come around, open lockers, and check for . . . what? What did they expect to find? Smut, mostly. They were desperately afraid of smut.

I got caught up in it on at least two occasions. I was a big reader, not the assigned material mind you, but a big reader nevertheless. If they found something that they considered offensive they'd take it and call you to the office of the Dean of Men. That was like being summoned "vor dem Gesetz" in a Kafka story, a nightmare of Jesuit style inquisition.

I got called in one time, and the Dean greeted me coldly and held up my paperback copy of "Crocodile," a Harvard Lampoon parody of the James Bond novels, all of which I had also read. This was in '64 or so. I pointed out to him that it was a Harvard University publication, so I figured it should be okay. He might have kept that one, I can't quite remember. No further trouble though, no punishment.

The other instance is much funnier. The paperback that the Dean held up that day was a Fu Manchu novel, "Daughter of Fu Manchu" I think it was. The cover was quite salacious, I'll admit, with a Chinese woman descending a spiral staircase wearing a tight silk dress with a daring split up the side. I admitted that it was mine. "I guess, if you say it's a bad book," I added sheepishly, "but I bought it in the school library."

Our library had a rack of paperbacks for sale, full retail, and I had indeed purchased it there.

The Dean was sure that I was lying, so he dragged me right to the library and asked the brother-in-charge (the same Brother John from "The Classroom"). Yeah, he said, that's off my rack. I'm sure they had words about that, afterwards.

Like I'd take my smut to school! That would've been stupid, and whatever my grades suggested, I was not stupid. I shoplifted that smut fair and square, and I would never put it at risk carrying it to school.

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