[names have been changed to...well I guess just for the hell of it]
High school freshman biology lab can be highly entertaining when dissecting fish, or stultifying boring when counting maize kernels. Fish eyes contain a sphere of, well, eye juice under such pressure that they bounce really well. Get five or six of those babies going and it’s nirvana for a class of 14 year-old boys. When tired of ricocheting organic superballs, a scalpel reveals the fluid inside. And by reveals, I mean causes-to-spurt. Maize kernels don’t bounce when detached from the ear and thrown, or spurt when sliced open. They just sit there, varying in color.
It was a kernel-counting sort of Thursday in biology lab when Matt Levy and I started exploring the section of the lab behind our table: charts, tubing, beakers, animal skulls, a mini-refrigerator. The refrigerator showed promise. Despite our imagination, it did not contain petri dishes, fetal pigs, or even lunch; just a bouquet of roses. With a card attached. That was blank.
Since I don’t believe in Hell or its denizens, I’m not sure what possessed me to take the card and write “Love, Satan” in red, jagged letters. I was experimenting with impulsiveness at the time, and it made Matt laugh. When you’re a skinny, un-athletic geek who talks too much, making peers laugh is good. Even if you write “Love, Satan” on someone else’s flowers, which is bad. Also bad is putting the flowers back hurriedly because the teacher comes back into the lab, then forgetting about what you'd written.
Forgetting until Matt pulled me aside Monday morning, his eyes bugged out in fear. I had missed Friday at school because of an out-of-town debate trip. While everyone else had to sit through prayer service on Friday morning, the team and I were on our way to Shreveport, Louisiana. Far enough away that when the women who was being honored by the school was given the bouquet of roses, we did not hear her muffled scream at reading, “Love, Satan.”
After prayer service at my school, the classes are dismissed one at a time, Seniors first. When a class is skipped over without explanation, everyone knows there’s trouble. No classes were dismissed that day.
Can-be-nice-but-surely-hired-to-make-you-dampen-your-pants-at-a-single-eyebrow-lift Disciplinarian Vice Principal (yes, my school actually had that staff position — the DVP part, not the damp pants part) addressed the assembled student body. Matt couldn't coherently relate the story very well, so I don't know exactly what was said. Suffice to say that it was ugly and a large dose of Catholic guilt was dispensed.
Matt was convinced that we were going to be discovered and expelled. Knowing that a sure way to get caught was for Matt to crack, I sought to calm him down. I pointed out that we knew no teacher saw us do it and if a student told on us, we'd get called down to the office after homeroom. If not, we were safe. We were not called down.
I figure the statute of limitations has passed for Matt and I, so it's probably safe to tell the story. Though, now that I think about it, many teachers and administrators from my time are still there, so I can just imagine Mr. Vice Principal (since promoted) calling me into his office for a dressing down while I'm at the school for an alumni event. Uncomfortable.
Satan was to figure into another bit of trouble I didn't get into Senior year. Stay tuned for that story.