The school year was drawing to a close. We had gotten through the annual spring fight, an all-school affair that took place in the cafeteria. We were not allowed to go off campus for lunch, which was fine by us because the food was really good back then. Everything was homemade right in the cafeteria. Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, yeasty rolls, green beans cooked with a ham hock. We all waited in line every single day to get a plate of cafeteria food and a box of Borden’s milk.
With so many kids in one place, and spring in the air, and testosterone so thick you could practically taste it, someone would start a fight just to relieve the tension. I saw a guy pick up a chair and hurl it across the room into an empty area, and before you knew it people were jumping off tables and punching each other, spilling out to the smoking section on the patio. No one ever got seriously hurt because we were tough – we meaning the guys, us girls were in the glass hallway watching from a safe distance. People got in fights back then. Even white trash girls would start shoving each other and end up rolling around on the grass, pulling each others’ hair in the middle of a ring of students egging them on.
But all this has nothing to do with Mr. Thomas, who was back in the library keeping an alert ear open for alarm clocks. We could have told him that those hooligans and their friends would not pull the same prank twice. I’m not saying they were real hooligans, they were actually the most popular guys in school, but they were at the root of everything, including the spring fights.
As I said a couple of blogs ago, everyone who went to my school lived in the city. We could get to the “country” where the hicks lived by driving three miles in any direction. My grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins all lived in the country. Somebody, and none of us was sure who but rumor had it that it was Rick Piercy, must have known someone with a farm, because he put a piglet in a canvas sack and smuggled it under his lettermen’s jacket into the library. He turned it loose, and it took off squealing across the room. Furthermore, it was greased. The reason you grease a pig was strictly for entertainment value, so that whoever is chasing it will not be able to hold on to it even if they catch it.
Unfortunately, I was not present when the greased pig went on a rampage through the library. I heard it described so many times, however, that I think I might have been there. Mr. Thomas chased it, bent from the waist and arms outstretched, all through the library. There were plenty of tables and chairs for the piglet to try and seek refuge, and it was absolutely determined not to be caught. Kids chased the pig to keep it away from Mr. Thomas, which prolonged the fun. Finally someone opened the library door and the pig ran down the ramp to temporary freedom. From there it was either caught, dissected in biology, or became the next day’s pulled pork sandwiches, depending on who was telling the story.
Mr. Thomas wasn’t the same after that. He got jittery, and who could blame him. Crazy thing is, that the last day of my junior year, and I can’t even remember him in my senior year. That would be just like kids, run the poor guy off and forget about him.
Now I feel bad for the poor guy who was only trying to do a good job and help us learn. We were such brats! If you’re reading this, Mr. Thomas, you must be about 110 years old. We’re sorry, really we are. RRRRRRIIIIINNNNNGGGG. Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.