81. The Lunacy of My High School Teachers

One of my high school teachers was probably the closest thing to a lunatic I’ll ever meet.

This teacher, whom I’ll call Mr. Socrates, coached the soccer team and taught Physical Education. A full record of his insane exploits would take at least half a dozen blog posts, so I’ll limit myself to recounting just three of his misadventures.

(While I saw none of these events myself, I have the assurance of trustworthy witnesses that they are true.)

Mr. S was once rappelled down a cliff beside a waterfall in Ecuador called Pailón del Diablo—Devil’s Cauldron. As he lowered himself down, he slipped off his rappelling rope and plummeted into the abyss. Incredibly, he managed to grab a strong branch and climb up the rock face with his bare hands.

On another occasion, Mr. S decided his soccer team wasn’t running laps fast enough, so he borrowed a lawnmower vehicle from a school groundskeeper and chased his team around the field.

Once, while playing soccer, his son kicked him in the shin by mistake. Mr. S fell to the ground, clutching his leg. (For those of my readers who have never received a hard kick from a cleated foot, it ranks just above red-hot pokers on any dependable list of painful experiences.) After half a minute or so, Mr. S rose shakily, grabbed his son by the collar and shouted, “Why, you—you son of a great person, you!”

Apart from Mr. S, some of the most eccentric/awesome people I’ve ever met have been teachers at my high school.

My Spanish teacher regularly accused her students of being drunk, stoned, in love or under the influence of some other strong intoxicant. She also suspected her students of salacious behavior and told them, “I will have to send you to the school counselor so that she can take those perverse thoughts out of your head.” This same teacher once, upon looking at one of my baby pictures, exclaimed, “Aw, you were so cute. What happened to you?”

My history teacher, who once worked part-time as an Elvis impersonator, did amazing impressions of historical figures. He also reenacted presidential assassinations, leaping from a chair to represent John Wilkes Booth jumping from the theater box where Lincoln was killed, and rolling around the classroom in an office chair to represent John F. Kennedy’s vehicle just before the president was shot.

My biology teacher, a former employee of a shrimp farm, sometimes abandoned his lectures to describe the mating habits of shrimp. (This was the same teacher who took us to see the cadaver whose arm I held.)

In describing the lunacy of my high school teachers, this blog post has hardly scratched the surface of the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. I’ve had to leave many interesting stories left untold. Suffice it to say, some of my high school teachers were among the strangest/greatest people I have ever known.

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