I Just Wanna Have Some Kicks

The boy and I are hanging out tonight.

I hum the first bit of Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida”.  He perks up, sings along:  “I used to ruuuuuule the world.”


I give him the cocked eyebrow.


“My music teacher played it.”


Cool.  I have no idea what he was trying to teach a bunch of kindergarten kids with a Coldplay song about a paranoid monarch, but it just seems cool.


That kind of shit didn’t fly when I was a kid.


When I was in junior high, a new teacher started at our school.  He was from The City, and he didn’t fit in.  The only acceptable clothes for a man to wear in my small town were Wrangler jeans and cowboy boots, maybe a pair of running shoes, but they better be manly running shoes.  Teachers were given some grace – after all, teaching was kind of “fruity”, so no one expected much more, clothing wise.  But this new guy, Mr. S, was a whole different case.


He wore sweaters, layers of sweaters.  Loafers.  Wool trench coats.  And, for the love of mike, an honest to goodness beret.

(Image is Man in Beret by O n e T e n)

In the early 90’s, the Alberta government got ambitious but lazy, and instituted a course called CALM (Career and Life Management).  Unfortunately, they forgot to include a curriculum.

So Mr. S. was left with a course that no one knew how to administer, a room full of skeptical tenth graders, and his kicky beret.


He decides to start off with a personality test.  In retrospect, it was a good soft opener.  The problem was in the execution.  He hands out the photocopied sheets.  We scan the questions.  And one particularly bright and observant student (ahem) spots the name of the publication the test came from.


“Mr. S!  You got this from PENTHOUSE!  Dude…”


Mr. S. sprints through the aisles, wildly grabbing at the sheets.  But the damage was done, the powers-that-were heard about the incident, and Mr. S. was thereby reprimanded.  (Did I mention that the PTA was comprised of right wing Evangelicals?)


But the last straw for poor Mr. S. was courtesy of Bon Jovi. 


Mr. S. was trying to teach some “life” lesson (and it must be remembered, dude was working without a curriculum), and decided that in order to relate to the kids, he’d use rock music.  The Evangelical bunch, predictably, got their collective panties in a wad.  But in a show of uncharacteristic open-mindedness, the principal allowed it.  Mr. S was on a roll, when we started to analyze the lyrics to “Bad Medicine”.


There’s a line that goes, “You’re an all-night generator wrapped in stockings and a dress.”


Fifty nine lines in that song, and that’s the one he picks.


And the question he asks, on the take-home sheet is,  “What type of person might an ‘all-night generator’ be?”

The answers ranged from “a great big SLUT!” to “Are you for real?” to “Your wife, ass-face!”.  The reaction from the Evangelical set?  Not good.


Mr. S. didn’t last much longer.  He left, maybe of his own volition, maybe not, a year later.


Lucky bastard.


11 responses to “I Just Wanna Have Some Kicks

  1. a beret? wow…seriously a beret? i bet if it weren’t for that…he’d still be working there!

    having said that dudes in berets and wool coats and fourteen sweaters are the kinda guys you want to sit down with over some coffee or a cocktail. just to shoot the shit. just to pick his brain.

  2. I had a cool teacher. Professor. In college. Seriously, this hot 28 year old guy from New Zealand gets a job at my college teaching rhetoric and theory, and people are surprised when he starts sleeping with a student that’s like five years younger than him.

    He had no chance for celibacy. He could have just plucked any girl from the crowds. So he totally got fired, which is expected. It was like they took our candy away.

  3. Why did the good ones always get into trouble? You know, like the ones who had no fear of telling my parents, “Your daughter is a massive pain in the ass and there’s nothing we’re going to do here until you start taking care of business at home.”
    At the time I thought it was great that they got into trouble. Looking back, where did all the good ones go?

  4. “After all, teaching was kind of fruity.”

    That’s funny, old school, but funny.

  5. I used to have a teacher, Mr Coty, who taught 20th Century Arts. It was a highschool class where we watched films that shaped our culture. We went from Citizen Kane and Casablanca, on to Psycho, Rear Window, The Shining, Hair, The Wall, Apocolypse Now, Play it Again Sam, the list went on. Shit I never would have see otherwise. It’s a million years later and I remember sitting in that class vividkly. He also looked like a cross between David Crosby and Jerry Garcia…

    I want you to google that teacher and find out where he is now…

    And finally, that song was on Medium the other night. I was impressed with Medium and curious as to how the royalties are paid out on that one…

    oh, am I supposed to SHUT UP now. Could this comment BE any longer…

  6. The problem with the profession of teaching is that it sometimes attracts ppl who want to make a difference.

    And that’s not what school’s about.

    School’s about making (and doing) lots of the same thing, over and over, and – when that starts to seem outdated – to change the name of what is being done, changing the text book covers, and launching a website to inform parents of how the new innovation is really just the same old thing repackaged.

    I think your teacher is playing bass in an indie jug band somewhere, happy as a lark.

    And i bet he doesn’t do covers.

  7. I will agree. Teachers and school today are NOTHING like they used to be.

    What a shame.

  8. Niki: Yup. Never bowed to societal norms, that guy. Just kept wearing that beret.

    Mkh: We had another teacher who used it for history lessons. Of course, HE never delved into all night generator territory, so it was much more successful.

    Rassles: And did that girl student’s name rhyme with “tassles”? Come on, the statute of limitations has to be up by now, it’s cool.

    mongoliangirl: That takes balls. And lack of fear of lawsuits. Maybe that’s the difference.

    formerlyfun: School teachin’ was alright for lady folk, but men didn’t need to concern themselves with no book larnin’.

    deb: Nice Chandler reference, and I love a rambling comment. I am so jealous of that class. I still haven’t seen a bunch of those movies.

    gully: Wherever he is, you’re right, he is undoubtedly doing something way cooler. I’d love to run into that guy.

    Southern(in)sanity: Agreed.

  9. This is why I hope to teach at the university level someday . . . I can swear and everything . . .

  10. Teaching AND being cool, such a fine rope to balance.

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