I always loved science (well, maybe not Chemistry) and so I had no reservations about signing up to take Biology II in high school. Biology I had been a breeze, perhaps mostly because Ms. M was such an easy teacher. Her tests weren't exceedingly difficult, her manner was laid-back, and the experiments were more of an excuse to goof off than focus on hypotheses and analyze outcomes. Plus, I found dissecting giant worms and foot-long sharks intriguing and a much better use of my time than something like geometry.
And so, for the second time, I found myself stationed for the year at one of those black stone topped lab tables, in the room suspiciously smelling of formaldehyde, and old heaters where football players jammed spitballs through the cracks. Speaking of football players, they gravitated towards Ms. M's classes like moths to a light - and not necessarily because they were interested in science. Ms. M had an addiction, you see. Nicotene. So while she snuck off for her smoke breaks, the football players slid down the hall a few rooms to the home economics class, where the teacher let them kick back and fed them brownies. Come exam time, I saw a lot of cheating going on, but I never said anything about it.
On one ill-fated day Ms. M. had gone down for her smoke and things in class were getting rowdy. We were supposed to be completing a worksheet on mitosis and meiosis, a topic which overwhelmed several of the students, hence the extra assignment. I had finished my worksheet, and was instead writing a note to my friend Kristi using my left hand (just to see if I could do it; I'm actually right handed) when the escalation of male voices began to rise. My eyes involuntarily flicked over to the table in question. Senior guys were huddled at the edge of the lab table, but I couldn't tell exactly what they were up to. Being only a junior at the time, I didn't know the guys too well anyhow, as they weren't in my other classes. I was trying to perfect the letter "L" by left-hand when the hoots and hollers reached new escalations, and guys started popping up from the huddle like popcorn on a fire. Sparks and smoke started spitting up in a hiss from the center of the lab desk as alarmed students started grabbing belongings and rushing towards the door. It didn't take long for an exodus of the class, even though the smoke had stopped.
In the hall, most of us sat in wait. One student had gone to get assistance. Others stuck heads around the door frame, eager for any further excitement within the classroom. The source of the madness? One of the senior guys, K, had stuck a paper clip in the lab outlet. The paperclip had fused to the outlet in melted metal. The classroom itself was shut down for a couple of days until workmen could come in and safely remove the outlet, replacing it with a new one.
Perhaps the funniest part of this memory was Ms. M's reaction when the class returned to its rightful place. She brought in a single desk, and pushed it up against the front wall right next to the chalkboard. And then? Well, she made K sit in that desk, with his back to the rest of the class, for the remainder of the school year. This brought a good deal of snickering from his buddies, but I suppose he earned his spot with his stunt.
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Next week's topic is "An Injury".