WILD IN THE STREETS (Memory Lane: 1973)

I was in junior high in 1973. We had a touchy-feely curricula that included courses like “Worthy Use of Leisure Time” (where, among other things, we learned to play tennis with hard-to-break wooden paddles, easy-to-break stringed racquets being way too expensive) and “World of Work.”

I find that my memories of the latter have now been boiled down to two gentlemen:

The first was an “Agriculture” teacher who frequently snorted at the ridiculousness of the former, once showed us an egg he had plucked from his hen-house that morning with a half-formed chick still inside, and had his smart aleck assistant answer the question “What is the longest war in history?” after the rest of us had shot our bolt. (I had opined The Hundred Years War….after which virtually every other kid named virtually every other war you ever heard of, each of them apparently convinced that every war ever fought had lasted longer than a century–it wasn’t one of the classes that gathered up the smart kids).

Answer: “The war between man and bugs.”

Ah, the seventies.

I honestly don’t recall the name of the course the second gentleman taught (I’ll call him Mr. J.). It probably had “social” in the title, though. He was a youngish, cool, hip black guy. I think every junior high was required to have one back then. But, actually, as he liked to remind us, he was mixed race, which he assured us meant that, in the coming revolution, he would be shot by both sides.

Another thing he told us was that, in that same revolution–which he wasn’t advocating, just predicting–black people would have a distinct advantage. As I recall, his rap went something like: “Brother goes down to the mall and starts shooting, he’s gonna get fifty white people before the police shoot him. Probably take a few officers with him, too. Fifty to one. I like those odds.”

Honestly, we didn’t even think it was weird. Mr. J., he had it going on! Speaking the truth to the hopelessly square little seventh graders! We could dig it. We weren’t that hopelessly square.

I haven’t thought about him all that often over the years. Hadn’t thought about him in more than a decade I reckon.

Until I started hearing the reports from Dallas tonight, that is.

What, you thought the long hot summer I’ve been telling you about was going to be limited to Donald Trump rallies and art-house showings of Medium Cool?

I bet not.

And, hey, Mr. J, I can’t believe you didn’t play this for us!