Thursday, 10 August 2006

An episode from my teenage life; a sitcom on the verge of cancellation

I was a prefect in my final year of school and so at the end of the first term instead of cleaning up the boarding house I got to order the younger boys about, telling them where to scrub, what to tidy and why they had it so much easier than when I was their age. As was the norm, a large amount of loose clothing had been found in the course of the clean and I’d been marshalling the creation of a pile of lost hoodies, t-shirts and socks in the middle of the house pool table.

I walked into the common room to deposit an errant rugby boot onto the growing garment mountain and came upon my housemaster, Dr. Hazlett, looking at the mass of clothes. At this point I should explain, for full comic effect, that the common room was an ‘L’-shape. From the doorway, where I stood, the room bent at right-angles, meaning that I couldn’t see the pool table from my current position. Paddy (Dr. Hazlett was Irish so of course we all called him Paddy behind his back) was in the junction of the ‘L’ and facing back towards me he could easily glance from the clothes and to me. “What’s that doing there?” he asked pointing at the obscured clothing mound. He had a frustrated look to his face that wasn’t a stranger to his face as his job was to herd 60 boys for every hour of the day except when they weren’t in someone else’s classroom or playing sports.
“I’ve got the fourth years to clear the changing rooms in the annex and I told them to start a pile on the pool table.” That’s right Dr. Paddy, you can count on me, I’ve got everything under control here, you can go back to guarding your pot of gold.

But no, the praise I was expecting didn’t come. Instead his face started to turn red. He had an extremely short fuse and so a ‘Paddy-nova’ was a common sight around the school. “Don’t you know who it belongs to?” He rasped, his face turning from Salmon to Gaping Wound to Faded Rust.
“No Sir,” I stammered, not exactly sure what I had done wrong to cause his head to go into meltdown, “I was going to hold them up during Callover and ask people who the owners were.” I knew I was experiencing biblical levels of rage when I noticed the little moles on his face had started turning white.
“Not good enough,” he bellowed, his yell stripping paint from the wall behind me. “I want it out of here as soon as possible, throw it away if you have to!”
Before I could say that we could always take the clothes to the lost property room in sickbay, he stormed past me and huffed back to his residence.

I was in shock, I couldn’t comprehend what had just happened. At this point Mutton, a kid a couple of years below me, came into the room to place a wayward sock on the pile. He rounded the corner and started laughing, “What’s that?” he said pointing at the pool table. His guffaws shocked me into action and I went to see what was so funny about a heap of abandoned clothes.

The clothes were still there but at the front end of the pool table was an oversized replica of a penis that one of the guys had created during a slow day in art class. It wasn’t just a lump of clay that looked a bit like a phallus; there was definition, veins and even some hairs where it emerged from its plinth.
The whole thing had menacing, lifelike air to it and the stature was such that even Shaft would have felt inadequate if he had seen it astride our poor pool table like that.

It would have been funny, if my poor little 17 year-old self hadn’t been so horrified as he replayed the conversation he’d just had. I was angry and humiliated so I gave Mutton a dead arm (not one of my shining moments), told him to grow up and instructed him to take the sculpture off to Shaun to see if he still wanted his ‘piece’ (see, such was the roll I was on, I couldn’t have stop the double entendres if I tried).

Dr. Haslett’s head didn’t explode and the moment was never spoken off again. It was only my complete naivety that stopped him from flailing the skin from my bones and I can only imagine what a complete cock he must have thought I was.

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