Friday, January 25, 2008

Busterranean Homesick Blues

I walked to school when I was little. Then I rode the bus to Jr. High and High School. Luckily the bus stop was close to Minute Man gas station. There was just enough time to buy a Ding D0ng, microwave it ever-so-slightly, and eat it while you ran to the bus. My bus driver was named "EZ." EZ was the craziest name I'd ever heard. Ever! (Remember, this was before rap.) Sometimes I would walk up to the church bus stop where my friends got on. That bus driver was named "Etta Bea." This did not strike me as unusual, as my mom and aunts are named Georgia, Wanda, Ila, and Glenda. And my Mom's best friend was Verna. It was just "Etta" with a "Bea."

EZ was exotic, wiry, and mean. At the time I imagined that he was from Greece or the Caribbean. Now I'm pretty sure he was Hispanic--his name was Isi Herrera. I was probably confused about ethnicity because of West Side Story where Maria and Bernardo (handsome!) are played by a Caucasian and a Greek, respectively. At any rate, the bus was kind of wild. Even I used to fake sneeze chip crumbs onto the backs of people I didn't like--and that was considered tame. But I feel that it did me no lasting damage.

When my son Sam started school he heard swearing and got pushed on the bus. So I decided to drive him. He loved being driven to school and appreciated it. But then he got used to it and didn't appreciate it. (I continue to re-learn the lesson that my kids are just like my dog Lou, now deceased--whenever we let her on the bed or the couch she got bad and demanding.) Once Maggie started school and I had baby Ben I decided they could ride the bus and just stick together and weather the storm of swearing. It was great! They did stick together and they weren't exposed to anything too bad, except Peace Man. The bus would pass "Peace Man" every day. When Peace Man changed his m. o. from flashing the peace sign to flipping off everyone who drove by, we used it as a spring board for discussion in our family about compassion. Compassion and restraining orders and public urination. No harm done.

But they still liked being driven so they had no incentive to get ready on time in the morning. This was murder. "Hurry or you'll miss the bus!" I would scream. But they didn't care at all. "So what if Mom has to get dressed and drive us? It's no skin off our nose," they retorted (in their minds). That's when I developed my policy of charging them each a dollar for driving them to school. And, I might add--it worked like a charm. They seem to appreciate services they pay for.

Now there is no bus where we live. It's like we've gone off the grid or something. They won't bus my kids anywhere! And in two years when my son is in Jr. High not only are we zoned for a school that is rumored to be somewhat crappy, I have to drive him there myself--this adds insult to injury. I feel like they should say, "Our school isn't that good so let us pick your son up." I mean, who do they think they are? Like they are doing me a favor! It makes me want to get a big mouthful of chip crumbs and fake sneeze it onto their backs. I WENT to that school after all--that's where I learned the chip crumb gag. I'm just trying to provide my kids the same mediocre, somewhat horrifying Jr. High experience I had--maybe just slightly worse. Is that so much to ask?

12 comments:

  1. That might be the best summation of junior high I’ve ever read: “I'm just trying to provide my kids the same mediocre, somewhat horrifying Jr. High experience I had--maybe just slightly worse.”

    I learned a lot about life and society in Jr. High. I learned next to nothing in the academic sense.

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  2. I hated Jr. High. I dread sending my kids there, but I guess they need the experience. I rode the bus, too. Miserable stuff, that. And now, even though we live a mere 1/2 block away from my childhood home, we supposedly live "too close" for my kids to be bussed down to said junior high. Ugh.

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  3. I love your walks down memory lane since I had so many of those same memories. Same bus drivers, same crappy school. Were you on the bus the time that Isi stopped the bus and chased down on foot that hoodlum kid? Those were good times!

    Everytime we relocate we pick our house location by where the best schools are. This usually means that we end up paying more for our house then if we just lived in a crappier district. Whenever I think about this too hard I wonder why we do this since I went to crappy schools and I turned out just fine (ha ha)

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  4. So that wasn't a real sneeze into the back of my head? sniff. :-(


    jk

    By a show of hands, how many people have fond memories of Jr. High?

    anyone? Bueller?

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  5. Don't worry about sending your boy to that school! I went there also. They have really great computer science classes.

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  6. So you are saying that the bus scenes from 16 Candles are realistic?

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  7. I don't know what to say about junior high--I can't stop thinking about the slightly microwaved Ding Dong.

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  8. your memory is so good it's freaky. I can't remember much at all about junior high... and I'm thinking that's a good thing. I do remember the bus driver but could never have come up with his name as distinctive as it was.

    A couple of things I do remember-

    the Ant Dance (although that was a little earlier than Jr. High I believe)

    The Brent Harrison club.

    Celebrate Life Day.

    any of this ring a bell?

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  9. i can't believe you live too close to the jr high. i have fond memories of chasing the bus down the street. they ended up making an extra bus stop for my friend and me (because we never made it to the origional bus stop on time) and then changing the bus stop the that place because of me and my friend. i also learned how to sluff classes in jr high. thats all the memores i have.

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  10. I would have loved a bus ride in jr high and HS (although I went to "middle school" not jr high). Instead I walked. and walked and walked and walked. Luckily I got a ride in the morning (seminary) but had to walk home. The last time I rode a school bus was in 2nd grade. And so that is probably why I have romanticized memories of the school bus. (that and the fact that it was a long, HOT walk home from HS.)

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  11. I loved and hated the bus. Loved it because it was "kid town". The further back you could sit the further you were from any adult supervision. Hated it because if that bus driver singled you out she pulled over to do so and made you walk the aisle of shame all the way to the front...and she also called me "boy".

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  12. I miss Peace Man. He is no longer perched on his porch. I'd like to think he hated the long winters here and he fled to Bali.

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