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Davis

Davis, California

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Booty call

I can usually get a laugh when I tell people I was first educated as part of a failed governmental experiment. Then, when I try to explain further that my unorthodox instruction led directly to me becoming a raging nerd and, indirectly, to a guy getting punched in the face four years later, I’m invariably treated to an incredulous stare. But it’s true, all of it.

At the tender age of about five my parents elected to deprive me of a decent, God-fearing public-school experience and tossed me instead into the Apple Project. Like most government projects the program was under-funded, so instead of buildings we got what essentially amounted to an educational trailer park. Better yet, Apple was designed to teach students from K-12 but was only allotted threebuildings, suggesting to any mathematician that something was awry. The kicker was the free-form nature of the curriculum, which resulted in me learning approximately zilch during my formative K-3 years.

I’d transferred by fourth grade, but the result of my unique education and a district swap was that I knew nothing and no one. My earliest memory from the new school involves me running with a fellow reject, our middle fingers extended, shoutingFuck the Earth for all its worth!” These days I’d call it edgy performance art, but at the time it merely served to make us even less popular.

Years passed, and I maintained my awkward status quo. I had 4.5 close friends, issues with 1.8 bullies and an even billion pubescent voice explosions. As time flowed I donned stylish neck gear and a pair of glasses any 73-year-old man would be proud to sport, leaving me a far cry from the achingly handsome portrait gracing this page. Fortunately I developed some acne to deflect stares from my greasy hair. It wasn’t until seventh grade that things really came together, because seventh grade brought me Kelci Miller.

Kelci was everything a thirteen-year-old girl should be and more, and I avoided her like the plague lest she learn of my affections. This proved difficult, however, when the two of us ended up paired together on a four-student field trip to the Mojave. Despite my social awkwardness we actually hit it off rather well, which made subsequent events all the more unfortunate.

Since the various students in our seventh grade science class had split up and gone on separate trips, our teacher took dozens of photos in order to assemble a slideshow collage of the whole experience. Through an interesting lapse in judgment, she opted against letting students from the trips annotate their own pictures. Instead, labelers were chosen at random, or in my case, via demonic interference.

You see, nestled inside the slideshow was a rather compromising photo. I will forever maintain that I was staring, very intently, at a small Saguaro cactus I’d found. I grudgingly admit, though, that to the untrained eye I mightmighthave been staring, very intently, at Kelci’s ass. That, of course, was the gist of the photo description that was read gleefully by one Nick Groble to an entire middle school assembly.

You’ve never heard such teasing. Months passed, filled with such gems as “Cade the ASStonishing man!” andTake a picture, it’ll lASSt longer!” So when I tracked down the caption’s perpetrator and delivered a mighty blow for Truth, Justice and a Nerd’s Right to Live in Peace, I really couldn’t be blamed.

I can never decide the best way to end this story. On one hand, my dad’s suggestion that perhaps Mr. Groble had earned his face-full of fist was a victory in itself. Dad didn’t think I needed punishment beyond the school’s mandatory one-day extension to my winter break, a fate considerably better than death. But I think the real triumph lies in the fact that Nick earned himself a suspension solely by getting punched in the teeth. If that’s not an achievement for nerd-kind, I don’t know what is.

 

CADE GRUNST wants you to send your middle school horror stories to cade@ucdavis.edu.

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