I Hope This Post Finds You Well

I have something I’d like to admit: I was a very poor student.

Not in college, mind you, but as a high school student, I was atrocious. I was disruptive in classes, I rarely turned in homework on time, and even worse, I encouraged my classmates to act up as well. My role as the ring-leader of disruptions was probably more insidious than my actual behavior because I tended to encourage otherwise attentive students into becoming raving anarchists.

In fact, I’ve pretty much stopped telling stories about my high school experience because when I try to relate one of my tales I get the distinctstone impression that people think I’m lying. My friend Tank, whom also attended the same high school, says he’s also stopped telling stories for the same reason.

I swear that everything that follows is completely true.

One time I got a math teacher fired because I convinced him it would be a good idea to let us watch “Basic Instinct” during class time. We actually spanned the viewing into two days because we couldn’t see the whole movie during one fifty minute class, but unfortunately for us, by the second day the word had spread so insidiously that we had students from other classes trying to sneak into our room to watch the movie. The principal walked into the room to investigate all the commotion just as Sharon Stone was dry-humping the leg of her lesbian friend on the dance floor. Rumor had it that I was the student who brought the tape to school, but since no one could prove it, I avoided any kind of punishment.

During my senior year the school had trouble deciding what to do with the male high school students that didn’t want to play football. There was around ten of us, and no one wanted the job of supervising us for last period, which was when the other guys held practice. The year before, the AG teacher had been in charge of keeping an eye on us “roaches,” as we were so lovingly dubbed by the faculty, but he refused to have anything to do with us the next year. So instead of actually hiring a teacher, the principal simply allowed us to hang out in the woods at the far end of the football field. He never came right out and said it, but we pretty much understood that as long as we didn’t cause any trouble so severe that he had to deal with us we could do pretty much whatever the hell we wanted.

So we would relax in the shade, drink sodas, smoke cigarettes, and yell insults at the football players. We thought they were pretty dumb for willingly running around in the 110 degree Texas sun in football gear. Occasionally the football players would run laps around the field, and when they got too close to our woods we would try to see if we could hit them in the helmet with rocks.

During pep rallies, the students would sit in groups according to their grade-level. Well, all of the students except for us Roaches. We sat in a section by ourselves. At the end of each pep rally, the cheerleaders would go to each section in turn and ask them if they had “spirit,” whatever the hell that meant. Accordingly, each section would reply in unison “We’ve got spirit, yes we do! We’ve got spirit, how ’bout you?”. Then the cheerleaders would go to a different section and repeat the whole thing. The whole point was to see which section had the most “spirit,” and which ever section yelled the loudest would win the “Spirit Stick” for that week. The Spirit Stick was supposed to be an honor to win, but I had a hard time conjuring up any reverence for a plastic cougar hot-glued to the top of a piece of PVC pipe. I did, however, find it pretty funny that everyone else went ape-shit for the stupid thing.

Instead of the typical “We’ve got spirit” nonsense, us Roaches would yell, “R-O-C-H-E-S, We’re the Roaches and we’re the BEST!” And yes, I know we misspelled “Roaches.” And week after week we never won the damn Spirit Stick, despite the fact that we were consistently the loudest, and thus, according to the cheerleaders’ own metric, proving we had the most spirit.

And then one day the cheerleaders let us win. I grabbed the Spirit Stick triumphantly. I waved it around like a mad-man.

And then I promptly ran out the door, got in my truck, drove home, stealing the Spirit Stick.

I didn’t think anyone had seen me hijack the Spirit Stick, and even if they did, I planned on simply denying I stole it. The cheerleaders asked me to bring it back. I told them I didn’t have it. They said they only had the one stick, they had spent hours making it, and they had to have it back. I told them I didn’t have it. At the next pep rally, we did not find out who had the most “spirit” because we had no Spirit Stick. Two pep rallies passed, and I thought they had forgotten about the whole thing and I would get to keep the Spirit Stick.

Then one day, the cheerleader sponsor asked to see me. She told me they wanted their stick back. I told her I didn’t have it. Then she showed me these pictures:


In my post-Spirit Stick exuberance I had apparently failed to recall that I had posed for photographs with the Spirit Stick. I brought the Spirit Stick back the next day. The Roaches never won another Spirit competition.

During my Sophomore year, several of us Roaches opted to act as cheerleaders during the Powder Puff football game. By the end of the game we had broken one guy’s arm by throwing him up in the air for a somersault that we had not, in fact, practiced, and we acted so vulgar in our cheerleading uniforms that we were told we could never, EVER participate in Powder Puff football again. Here I am in my outfit:


Aren’t I ravishing?

See. I bet you think I’m making all this up, don’t you? Well, I’m not. That’s partially why I included the yearbook photos for this post, despite the inherent embarrassment I feel towards them. Where did all this debauchery take place, you ask? In the little farming community of Aquilla, Texas, pop. 138. We had 168 students, k-12 while I was attending. In my graduating class there were eleven people. I was…well, something of an anomaly in the school and the community as a whole.

And no matter how many years pass, I sometimes still wish I had that Spirit Stick.

Categories: Texaspecific | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “I Hope This Post Finds You Well

  1. Tank

    “I tended to encourage otherwise attentive students into becoming raving anarchists.”


  2. I enjoyed your story quite a bit. Must be tough to be intelligent in a small town.

  3. Jacob

    If you think about it Mark that was some good old times. We may have stayed in trouble, but we all turned out okay. I will never forget that math teacher either. We used to smoke in his class room. Remember the math teacher after him. Remember poor old Science teacher. I seen him several years ago before he died, he did not know anything, I talked to his wife she said he could not remember anything anymore. He was a great man to put up with us. I remember stealing his biology teachers book, he did not know what to do. I am glad to know you are doing good. I have not been to Aquilla in about 10 years.

  4. We not only smoked, we shot dice, extorted money, and paid the teacher for the answers to his own tests.

    Good times.

    Like I said, I’ve pretty much stopped telling any Aquilla stories around here. Or Gholson stories, for that matter. People think I’m making them up.

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