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Obsessing on high school - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Obsessing on high school
Okay, the person who hates it when people obsess on their pasts has a confession: Um, I do it, too.

At the moment (and at regular intervals), I'm flashing back to high school. I had laboriously adapted a novel we were reading for the stage--managing to keep the dialogue completely intact, thanks very much; I liked my adaptation much better than the movie of the same book--and we were well into rehearsals. I was directing and playing a handful of incidental parts. I'd tried to get performance rights but been rather rudely refused by the author's agent so it wasn't quite up-and-up, leaving me without much recourse when the inevitable happened: the mother of one of my cast members (the wife of a local minister, I think) stormed into the principal's office with the script and a black marker, and marked up the script in a way that would have made the KGB proud. All swear words, even the mild ones, were exed out and anything mildly suggestive got the same treatment.

Now, I'm not a big fan of swearing and dirty talk--most people know that. But this was directly adapted from a book we were reading in English class.

I cited the first amendment, I pouted, I tried to explain my point of view. I should have known this was pointless, as the same principal had told me he'd give me detention if I ever made an anti-Reagan joke in his presence again, and the first amendment tactic had had no appreciable response. I even went so far as to produce the book in question... at which point the principal, who was shocked to see the script at all, said that he'd like to get such filthy things out of the school altogether. (He was an interim guy with a military backgroud of some sort, as I recall.) It was the only time in my life that my instinct was to sue. Of course, since the play wasn't, erm, exactly legal, I figured that would open a big can of worms and I wasn't willing to be sued by the author's agent in return. So I mumbled that I'd go along with it. The principal must have realized that I was, perhaps, not being entirely sincere, and threatened to break up the play in progress if the actors, live, put the original language back. (Drat, foiled.)

I'd put in too much work to quit (though I thought about it), so I went along.

It occurs to me now that I could have gotten even--it was a public school, and every year, without fail, more than half the winter concert consisted of religious songs. Not wussy little songs that said "Christmas" instead of "holiday," either--we're talking "For Unto Us A Child Is Born" and "Holy Jesu." I'll be the the ACLU could have made the priciple's tenure very interesting.

Oh, I know. That's totally against my moral code, and as it happens, I think religious music is beautiful and does have a place in study--it's a pretty big subsection of music. Still, it would have had a nice, "How do you like it, moron?" feel to it.

It's a nice retrospective fantasy to indulge in. A little payback. I wish I'd thought of it then. Sigh.

I feel a bit...: predatory vengeful

11 comments or Leave a comment
azaelia_culnamo From: azaelia_culnamo Date: September 5th, 2004 04:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
They let people promote religion, but not political views? I hate that. You can't only allow freedom of speech on one topic, and not another.
myf From: myf Date: September 5th, 2004 06:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Am I the only one wondering what the book was?

What a horrible experience - and what a horrid, closed-minded man.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 5th, 2004 08:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
Not an especially racy one. Avoiding mentioning it as, well, I just admitted to the illegal production. But it's one that takes place in a New England boarding school and deals with jealousy.
From: leeflower Date: September 5th, 2004 08:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
you could have sued on first ammendment grounds about the reagan joke thing.

As far as the play: the supreme court made a ruling that a principal had the right to censor the school paper as he saw fit because it was a production with the school's name on it.

I can only assume that would also apply to play's legal or not.
From: leeflower Date: September 5th, 2004 08:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
apply to play's legal or not.


I did NOT just use an apostrophe to indicate a plural word...

I'm a horrible excuse for a human being.
lazypadawan From: lazypadawan Date: September 5th, 2004 08:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
You could have exacted retribution, but to what end? It would have kicked open a whole 'nuther nest of hornets and probably would have gotten the author's agent involved with your underground production ;).

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 5th, 2004 08:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'd have waited a decent amount of time and not made the two directly connected... :p

And yes--major hornet's nest. I know. It's just a retribution fantasy. Sort of, "I wish I'd done something at least!"
atropos87 From: atropos87 Date: September 6th, 2004 01:38 am (UTC) (Link)
Your headmaster sounds like a grade A moron. As does that parent. Spike is expressing my feelings towards them very succinctly *points*
akashasheiress From: akashasheiress Date: September 6th, 2004 03:41 am (UTC) (Link)
Can I friend you?
chienar From: chienar Date: September 6th, 2004 05:30 am (UTC) (Link)

Having been in said production, and remembering quite well the experience (especially being bound with ace bandages to play a male character!)....

I know EXACTLY which parent is being spoken of, and said parent while subbing as an english teacher at said school confiscated a joke book from me that she deemed "unsuitable" (which my parents had given me).

Said principal was an idjit.

Though bringing up the religious topic from that school brings me quite a laugh... As I remember being accused by classmates of being a witch, in seventh or eighth grade....

thewhiteowl From: thewhiteowl Date: September 6th, 2004 12:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
You know, this would be pretty unremarkable in Ireland; should I be minding? Because I don't, at all.

But then, I did get my mother to complain about books we were doing in English which I hated, on the grounds that they were too scary/obscene for 12-year-olds.
11 comments or Leave a comment