Second grade was the year that began with Obsession, and ended with Neurosis. I was obsessed with, among other things, astronomy, Japanese culture, and sitar music. I…I don't know, either. These were not interests that began in school, but my teacher, Mr. Barry, did try to cultivate at least one of them.
I developed this brilliant idea for a special astronomy project: somehow I was going to create a constellation projector with a refrigerator box. One of my classmates joined me for this project, and Mr. Barry got us a refrigerator box and let us plan out our brilliant scheme in the hallway, just the two of us and… the box. I felt like this went on for weeks but it was probably only a few days. All we did was sit inside the box and giggle. Mr. Barry tried to get us to organize our thoughts, but it turned out we really wanted to giggle. Our special project got scrapped, and I had to join the Regular People in the classroom. I was none too pleased about that, having quickly decided that I was special and required hallway projects.
Behold the arrogance! And the eyebrows!
I was extremely concerned about Mr. Barry. Since I was already shaping up to be something of a nervous mess, this year marks the beginning of my proud tradition of projecting my feelings onto other people. I thought Mr. Barry was under a lot of stress. He seemed really worried all the time, not that I could say how, but I knew it. I saw him pumping gas at the local station, which is when I first learned that teachers are not paid enough. My worry increased.
As for me, my grandmother died after a terrible battle with cancer, my mom (and the rest of my family) was devastated, and I was peeing myself quite a bit because, it turned out, in addition to being too shy to ask to go to the bathroom, I was getting bladder infections--which were caused by a narrow urethra, which ended up requiring surgery. Also my sister was leaving for college and I pretty much cried all the time? But oh, Mr. Barry was the one who needed my help.
In addition to my many woes, I was not getting any better at posing.
Boy, that was a shitty year. Mr. Barry was one of the bright spots in that year. He was the first teacher I had who I remember laughing at my jokes and the stuff I wrote that was trying to be funny. He was an excellent teacher and he had to pump gas. Goddammit.
I don't have a picture of Mr. Barry but in my imagination he resembled John Denver. I still can't watch "Oh, God!" without getting emotional. You'd think I wouldn't have many opportunities to watch "Oh, God!" but you would be WRONG. Or, okay, right.
What do you guys remember about second grade? Please share with the class.
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