I can’t say for sure how long the spitball fight lasted. I can say that I did not participate. Not because I didn’t want to but simply because my straw and my paper were at my desk. I know Fin wasted no time getting out of the classroom because I heard him scream as a spit soaked wad of paper hit him in the back of the head.
I ducked quickly down behind the slide projector and peeked out to see the unfolding madness only semi-innocent eleven and twelve year olds knew. Madness defined by a purloined luncheon milk straw and some Mead wide ruled spiral notebook paper. A dangerous combination in the late 70’s and a guaranteed expulsion offense in this day and age of oversensitive political correctness that has taken over the Republic of the united States. (Yes, I just made a political statement.)
Saliva soaked balls of paper flew in arcs and incalculable tangents that only Euclid or Newton could figure out. I felt someone poking me in the back and I turned to see Marky Borrowitz hiding behind me. “What are you doin?” I whispered.
“Hiding. I don’t want to be the target like I usually am.” He said with a bit of panic in his voice.
“Uh, I don’t think you’re the target this time. Karen has cornered the market on that.” I replied.
“Didn’t you guys used to go steady? You know, a couple years back?”
“I wouldn’t call it going steady we... DUCK!” I said as a wad of freshly soaked paper hit the side of the A/V cart. “We kissed a few times and hung out in her basement and went to a movie.” I finished.
Marky looked at me and grinned “Thanks Skip.”
“No problem, now get outta here before people start targeting me.” I ordered. He scurried away on his hands and knees and hid behind the bookshelf that held the classes complete collection of Encyclopedia Britannica. As he disappeared behind the shelves he looked at me and gave me a quick thumbs up and a smile.
I turned my attention to the front of the room, Karen was screaming at everyone to settle down but no one was listening to her. Her attempts at dodging the spit balls only seemed to make her an even more irresistible moving target. Some of the kids had given up on making spitballs altogether and were just throwing wadded up pieces of paper, pencils, erasers and I think I saw a “Happy Days” pencil box go sailing across the room and hit the black board only to get smashed into hundreds of broken plastic pieces.
“WHAT IS GOING ON IN HERE!” a voice boomed over the cacophony of screams and laughter.
Everyone in the room froze in place and looked at the source of the inquisitor. It belonged to the Vice Principal. We were DOOMED! Karen stood at the head of the class sobbing and trying to explain what happened. No one could understand a word she was saying.
“Suh Suh Suh… deys juss nddd ives den…” was all she was managing to get out. She really looked pathetic and I felt a bit sad for her but there was no way I was gonna put my neck or my reputation on the line for her. Even though I still had a crush on her.
“Nobody move.” He ordered as he came into the room and turned on the lights. Bits of paper still hung in the air and made their way to the floor in a lazy unpredictable descent. I could see him walking up and down the aisle of kids and he would occasionally make a “Tsk Tsk.” Sound with his voice. “Mr. Borrowitz… what are you doing behind the bookcase?” I heard him ask.
“Hiding Sir.” I heard Marky’s meek voice reply.
“Come out from behind there and take a seat at your desk.”
I felt a hand on my shoulder “And you Mr. Novak, what are you doing down here?”
“Uh, hiding.” I replied and then added “Sir.”
“Ok, is anyone else hiding that I should know of?” He called out to the class. Only silence greeted him.
“Well then, Mr. Borrowitz, Miss Cornett and Mr. Novak, the three of you will report to my office and wait for me there. As for the rest of you, you are now all on clean up duty.” He ordred.
We hastily left our classroom and made our way down to the Vice Principal’s office in silence. When we arrived at the office we saw Fin sitting on one of the chairs three chairs outside the office door. The look on his face told me he was in trouble. Karen sat down and so did Marky, I stood next to Fin and leaned against the wall with my hands behind my back.
“This is all your fault Jimmy Finnegan.” Karen whispered venomously.
I looked down at Fin and he shrugged his shoulders at me as if to ask “What did I do now?” I just shook my head and shrugged my shoulders. Nothing I could say or do could help our situations. I didn’t know what sort of trouble we were in and in my thoughts were filled with after school detention, eraser cleaning, blackboard washing and the most cruel punishment of all, scrapping chewing gum off the bottom of desks.
Our nervous tension filled the air with an almost palpable stench. We were all wondering what our fate would be and we didn’t have to wait long for our answer. We all heard the footsteps of the Vice Principal as he came down the steps and we all looked at each other and I believe we all felt the same ball of trouble stuck in out throats.
“Ok, you four, in my office.” He ordered as he walked past us. I followed behind him and my classmates marched in behind me.
There were only two chairs in front of the large desk he sat behind. Karen quickly took one of the open seats and Marky took the other. I stood behind Karen and let Fin stand behind Marky. The Vice Principal sat at his desk and shuffled papers back and forth for a bit, took a pen out and scribbled some notes. Then he sat back and looked at us and shook his head.
“You four are in quite an interesting situation.” He started. “It seems out of all the kids in the class you’re the only ones who didn’t participate in the mayhem earlier. I can understand why Miss Cornett didn’t and even Mr. Borrowitz, but you Mr. Novak? Not participating? Normally we find you in the middle of incidents like this and Mr. Finnegan, the only reason you weren’t involved is because you weren’t in the class room. I am truly at a loss of my senses in this situation. I can’t punish any one of you four simply because you did nothing wrong, while the rest of your class has been assigned extra work and detention.”
“So… what does that mean for us Sir?” I asked
“You four are free to go about your regular daily schedule. But know this Mr. Novak and Mr. Finnegan, I WILL be keeping an especially watchful eye on you two and your friend Mr. Minnow.”
“But Sir,” Karen interrupted “Skip was flipping the slides in the projector and Jimmy…”
“Miss Cornett, be quiet. No one likes a tattle tale and since they did not participate in the incident there is no need to punish them. Now, I want all of you to go back to your classroom.” He ordered and we all began to leave “Oh, and Miss Cornett, you may want to stop by the ladies restroom and clean yourself up a bit.”
We separated once we all got into the hall, Fin and I headed back to the classroom and Marky and Karen to the bathrooms. None of us were in a hurry to get back to class and lunchtime was only a few minutes away.
“We dodged that bullet.” Fin commented.
“Yeah, you got that right. Shoot Fin, I’m glad you ducked out when you did. Wish I’d been with ya.”
Fin shrugged “Can you believe the whole class is in detention? I think that just might be a school record.”
“Well, technically not the whole class.”
“Ok, everyone but us four.”
We were halfway down the hall when the lunch bell rang and kids started to pour out of their rooms. “Skip, go grab our lunches, I’ll go get Fish and we will meet over by the bike racks like we did the other day. Ok?”
“Sure man, no problem. See ya in a while.” I said as I fought my way through the crowded passageway. I felt like a fish swimming upstream. The whole school was talking about my classroom and all the trouble we’d caused earlier. As I walked, I heard the rumors already starting up, “So and So KILLED the Teacher!” or “…and then they threw the desks out the windows.” And “It was a fight and someone was stabbed, I don’t know who, a new kid from what I heard.” I shook my head and made my way into the classroom which was now empty and surprisingly clean.
I walked over to Fin’s desk, grabbed his lunch bag and quickly retrieved mine from my desk and headed out to lunch.