A Post By: Michael Gallo
Chemistry, in all shapes and forms, is an awful thing. But in high school each student was forced to take it to get their diploma. There was no way around it. I tried. I sat in the guidance counselor’s office, pleading with him and trying to bargain.
Me: If I don’t have to take chemistry, I’ll stop stalking your family.
For whatever reason my bargains didn’t work. When I got my junior year schedule in the mail, I saw Chemistry I was at 8 in the morning. So not only was I going to be struggling through a subject I didn’t know jack shit about, but I would be doing it half asleep. It would have been all around terrible experience but I had a few friends in the class and obviously it gave me a few lasting memories. These are some of those memories:
-On the schedule I saw the name of the teacher. I didn’t recognize the name, I didn’t know anything about him. For the sake of this article, let’s call him “Mr. Smiglets”. Smiglets was apparently an enigma, no one else knew anything about him. He didn’t exist. “Who is patient 67!?” – Leonardo DiCaprio. While that quote has nothing to do with Mr. Smiglets, it really highlights the idea of enigmas. Anyways, I showed up to the first day with a completely unbiased opinion of the man, ready to keep an open mind. I just assumed he was a nice guy. I was wrong. Dead wrong. I walked into the classroom with about 30 seconds to spare on the first day. Mr. Smiglets was no where to be seen. We sat talking for 5 minutes before he finally walked out from the supplies closet in the back of the room. He was eating cereal out of a beaker. He took a big bite and chewed loudly in front of the class. A girl in the front row giggled. He stared at her and then said, “WHAT!?” She didn’t answer him.
Smiglets: You mean to tell me that NONE of you have seen a guy eat cereal out of a beaker!?
No one says anything. Smiglets slams the beaker down and then laughs for 10 seconds straight.
-For the next couple of weeks we go over material that might as well have been in Arabic. I didn’t even understand the stuff that I needed to understand to learn the stuff that I needed to know, to understand the stuff that I should have learned in the class before. When he would stand at the front of the class speed talking about electrons and how to convert something to the something or other and how to switch the widget to the isotropic center I would sit in the back and whimper. Sometimes, if I was really tired, I would forget he was a maniac and I would raise my hand to ask a question. When he would see my hand he’d stop and stare at it like it was a two headed cat. He’d point at me. “Mr. Smiglets, if the other element is bigger than how do I line that up?” He’d raise one eyebrow really high and stare deep into my eyes, past my outer existence and into my soul. Then he’d scoff. Slowly let a giggle out and then full on laugh. “Do you guys know ANYTHING!?” – Mr. Smiglets, 2005. When he asked things like this I would just shake my head no.
-Because of the way he would answer questions, the class became accustomed to sitting in absolute and total silence. When he would ask for answers to the homework no one would say a word. You could hear the silence in the room. It was so tense and painful it would make my chest hurt. One day, when he was ripe for a melt down he asked about the previous night’s homework.
Smiglets: So, if you multiply that by mole…then what is it?
no one says anything.
Smiglets: Okay, but seriously. It’s not hard.
No one says anything.
Smiglets: You guys are pushing me to a place I don’t want to go. Just answer me. Please.
No one says anything. Smiglets walks around the table at the front of the room and picks up a yard stick from his desk. He turns around. Holding it in front of him.
Smiglets: So…no one is gonna say anything. That’s fine.
I put my hand on my cellphone, ready to call the police when this man goes ape shit and starts beating everyone with it. Instead he pulls it back as far as he can and smacks himself in the head with it so hard it makes a loud whipping noise. Several girls in the front row yelp. He pulls back again and smacks himself in the head even harder. He screams, “DO I SCARE YOU!?” He hits himself again, but this time the yard stick breaks over his head. He holds the small piece that’s left and stands breathing heavily at the front of the room. He walks back to the table at the front of the room and sits down on it. A girl in the back quickly comes up with an answer.
-Another time, Smiglets was so frustrated with our class’ silence that he walked to the chalkboard in the front of the room and wrote, “BANG HEAD HERE” and then circled it. He put both his hands on the chalkboard and slammed his head against it twice. He laughed and then stopped.
-One time, he was yelling at our class but then stopped. We waited, a thick tension in the air.
Smiglets: If I keep yelling, I’m not going to have any left for my wife.
I was truly scared.
-He always rode a motorcycle/dirt bike to work. Even in the winter, he would ride the bike because he had an electric vest (a fact that he reminded us of at any opportunity). One time, while struggling through a homework assignment, my friend Joel started suggesting alternatives.
Joel: We should kill him.
Everyone working on the homework laughed. But then the laughter died down. We were all considering it. I thought about how long I would be in prison and if that was worth knowing my friends no longer had to deal with Smiglets. It was. I was going to wait outside the entrance to my high school with my car idling. When I saw Smiglets, I was going to floor it and t-bone him. That night, Gandhi came to me in a dream. He reminded me that violence wasn’t the answer and that I could relax, it was only jock’s itch. I awoke the next morning both relieved and saddened. I knew I couldn’t kill him. Even if it would help my friends.
-Smiglets hated people eating food in the hallways. One time he was leaning against the wall outside his door and a girl walked by with a bag of chips. He jumped at her and screamed, “NO FOOD!” She winced but didn’t move. Smiglets swatted the chip bag out of her hand. The bag exploded and chips went everywhere. I saw the whole thing happen. I called him a food nazi under my breath and got a day in detention for it.
By the grace of God I ended up getting a D in the class, despite going into the final (which I failed) with a 61%. I think I owe that to Smiglets.
*All stories in this article are completely factual. People unfortunately lived through this*