Schoolyard Derision

From an e-mail:


Hi! I was browsing your site, and saw that you mentioned a Kent Purser. Now, keep in mind that I am a nerd, and the fact I had a chemistry teacher who may or may not have known a cast member of Star Trek: TNG excited me. So I planned on asking him about it, the only problem is I had graduated from high school already and wasn’t in the area. None of my lazy friends who were still in high school would ask him if he was indeed the Kent Purser who knew Wil Wheaton, so I had to wait until I went back to visit last week. He was indeed the Kent mentioned in your Star Wars toy story (Do you still get those? I got the coolest Jabba’s Palace one a while ago.) So yeah, Kent is now a chemistry high school teacher. He watched some Star Trek: TNG (Bet you wanted to know that), and claims he used to beat you up in school. I’m not sure if I believe him on the beating up part though. If you want, I’ll send you a picture of him (He looks somewhat goatish. A goatee will do that.) Adieu

Response:
Ha! Kent never beat me up. As a matter of fact, the only bully who ever beat me up was Joey Carnes, and that was just two hits: his fist hitting my nose, and my body hitting the ground.
Kent was one of The Cool Kids who I so desperately wanted to be friends with. Since he was a Cool Kid and I was a Total Geek that just wasn’t going to happen. He picked on me a lot, but that really doesn’t put him in any great club — everyone picked on me in grade school, because I was a Total Geek.
However, he did humiliate me pretty hardcore one time. In 5th grade, I was sitting off to the side of the playground, looking over a Monster Manual, or Player’s Handbook or something, when Kent and some of the other Cool Kids — Jimmy Galvin, Scott Anderson, Brandon Springs — walked by, heatedly discussing Schoolhouse Rock. Kent shouted over his shoulder to me, “Hey Wil, do you watch Schoolhouse Rock?”
I loved Schoolhouse Rock, and got up early on Saturdays to watch it at 6:00 a.m. before Superfriends. I knew the entire preamble to the Constitution, understood the complexities of Manifest Destiny, and was a math whiz, because of my devotion to SHR. I would often sing “Verb! That’s what’s happenin’!” in my head while waiting for my parents to pick me up from school. But we were in 5th grade, and I hadn’t heard enough of their conversation to know if I was supposed to answer in the affirmative, or not. So I flipped a mental coin, and sneered. “No way,” I laughed, summoning all the contempt and scorn I could muster. I did my best to sound like our principal, Mr Schultz, during one of his long lectures about the dangers of rock music. “Schoolhouse Rock is stupid. It’s totally for babies.”
I sat back, anxiously awaiting their agreement and approval. Maybe they’d welcome me into their circle for a few days, and they wouldn’t throw at my head when we played dodgeball in PE.
Kent made a braying sound, and topped my carefully measured derision. “For babies?! Schoolhouse Rock is cool, Wil. I watch it every chance I get.”
Kent and The Cool Kids all laughed, and walked away. My face began to sting, anticipating PE.

137 thoughts on “Schoolyard Derision”

  1. A friend of mine had me put the constitution and noun or verb train on a cd for him, it was really funny cause the whole rest of the cd was all hardcore metal bands, then all of a sudden “Conjunction Junction” would come on and people would be like “WTF??” And he’d just say “It’s Schoolhouse Rocks man! Everyone loved that show”.

  2. The memory of taking a dodgeball to the face and breaking my glasses remained happily repressed for almost 15 years…ah well, better to deal with it now than later.

  3. I’m right there with you Wil.
    By the time 6th grade rolled around I was rather tired of this line of questioning. When ever a “cool kid” asked your opinion about ANYTHING out of the blue, the result could never be anything but bad.
    When I moved to a new school in the middle of the year (one of those k – 8th deals) they had everybody pile into the MPR for a puppet show. (Which was cute and funny, so I laughed. My classmates sat stone-faced for some reason, I looked around and noticed that all the grades above and below us were all laughing and singing along, so I continued to enjoy the show.) After the show a group of girls walked up to me and asked if I enjoyed the show. And my answer was something to the effect of “No matter what I say, your opinion will be the opposite. Which is more childish and lame then any puppet show could ever be.”
    My answer was met with blank looks followed by the “head girl” stating that I was “such a dweeb” and they walked off.
    But they more or less left me alone after that. Which I suppose is the best outcome as anybody could hope for. :D

  4. SuperFriends rocks! Weren’t Wonder Woman, and the female Wonder Twin, the hottest??
    Glad you survived the experience. Absolutely, after getting caught in a comment like that one, your rivals would have “+2 To-Hit” your Armor-Class 10 head with their “Whistling Balls Of Death” :) :) Great story!

  5. I remember that; I used to beat up kids a lot back in Elementary School. That was fun. I wasn’t a cool kid. I was the cool kids’ hired thug. Of course I had injuries such as a rock between the eyes and kicked in the nose and so on. But it was fun stuff. Then this girl showed up in 6th grade and I tried to impress her by not fighting. Didn’t work at all.

  6. Hi Will,
    Ah! Yes, Schoolhouse Rock actually Rocked.
    However, the healthy snack dude in the often-ran ABC PSA creeped me out. Remember that there were two and it was either about cheese or make your own popcicles…
    YOU CAN MAKE STACKS OF SNACKS!
    Creepy Dude: “You can make a wagon wheel!”. Then he was all like: “I’m hankering for a hunk of…a slab a slice or chunk of…I’m hankering for a hunk of cheese.”
    What about the popcicles – “Don’t wait until it rains to try this nifty trick, you can have a fun time making sunshine on a stick!”
    Freaky little dude. I told my little sister that he was modeled after the same guy that played the child-snatcher on Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
    I can still hear her saying “BUT WHY would the child-snatcher show us how to make snacks…” Like she was trying to figure out the evil plan that lurked behind the sunshine on a stick.
    Take Care!

  7. Hi Wil,
    Irony Alert. Did you know that the actor who played Will on Land of the Lost (you know, “Marshall, Will and Holly on a routine expedition…”)is actually named Wesley in real life?
    Do you know more about this ironic Wesley/Will connection?
    I will continue to search out more examples in pop culture…this does not work with Will Robinson on “Lost in Space”.
    More meaningless trivia later…

  8. There you go, feller. Nosce te ipsum – know thyself.
    And it’s much tougher partner: To thine own self be true.
    Sorry to hear you had rough times at school, chap, but from one cartoon-watching, book-learning type to another…. ne te confundiant illigitimi.

  9. So, what you’re saying is that you tried to be fraudulent to meet someone else’s expectations, and you were exposed? Cry me a river.
    PS…I don’t think that’s ironic geek grrrl(see above)….coincidence maybe…irony could be (and is) defined as an ‘incongruity between what might be expected and what actually occurs’…

  10. I’m laughing that some of you posting were/are again trying to get those lovely little SHR songs out of your heads. I like those songs those were such happier carefree years for me.
    I’d much rather like to be able to get the bills I have to pay out of my head not to mention my wallet. Such is life I guess. Speaking of songs caught in the head I can’t stop with “Mr. Blue Sky” by E.L.O.
    Save me unca Willie please!!!

  11. I’m going to try this one more time for the slow kids: I was 11.
    I’m sorry that you continue to completely miss the point.
    Perhaps you should learn. To. Swim.

  12. Wil, that is a losing battle I’m afraid, my friend. You could spell it out with neon lights and billboards and still some people will never be able to get the point.
    But reading your post took me back to my 5th grade year. I was actually 12 years old since my parents put me through 2 years of Kindergarten (Yea, laugh all you want! ;} I still don’t know why they did that!)
    Anyway, the “cool kids” consisted of J.W. (never knew his real name, he always went by J.W.), Danny Thompson, Jason Johnson, and two brothers named Gary and Mike. At the time, the Atari 2600 was the biggest thing on the market and it seemed that everyone had one. I used to hear the “cool kids” always talking about the games they liked, the cool games, the sucky games, you know, the normal kind of “cool kid” chatter. One day in class the teacher had stepped out of the room for whatever reason, and as would usually happen, the “cool kids” would start talking and making noise and just being obnoxious. Most of the time I would it in the back corner of the room and keep quiet and stay out of everyone’s way but on this day, they started talking about their Atari systems, and since my parents had just bought one for me a few days earlier, I thought I could fit into the conversation. Naturally that was really going to work out right? I mean I had an Atari now! I was pretty cool just like J.W. and Danny and Jason and Gary and Mike…
    Yea. Right. First I got that look…you know, the one the cool kids would give you for speaking to them, that contemptuous “You’re stupid! How dare you talk to me” look? Anyway J.W. was the first to tell me to “shut up nerd”. Then Danny started in with the “you’re such a dork” speech. Ultimately, since I was an overweight child, I finally got the barrage of fat jokes coming from all of them, while the rest of the class looked on, laughing at my inability to respond to their comments with anything more than “shut up!”. The last thing J.W. said to me before the teacher returned was that I was a big Tub-o-lard and my whole body would jiggle if someone poked me. Almost every day after that, at least once a day, someone in the class would poke me and start singing the Jell-O song “Watch it jiggle! See it wiggle” and anyone around would just laugh it up.
    Being at that age where “telling” was such a babyish thing to do, I took it everyday and never did anything more than yell “shut up!” whenever I thought the teacher was within earshot and might rescue me…
    I was *so* glad that my family decided to move to Ohio the following year! :)

  13. This is a Grade 5 flashback for this female Canadian too. I took a lot of verbal shit for my non-caucasian genetics from three Grade 4 boys in my split grade class. The biggest boy was from a Mediterranean family. In grade 8 he was drinking;partying;car accident;wheelchair. I saw him 10 years later and still; so what? He will have gray hair one day just like gray ex cons who’ll also be seeking respect. They were a bully poss

  14. It’s something about 5th grade and those tormenters… you try to make the judgement call to figure out what they want to hear, and muck it up (and remember it forever).
    When I was in fifth grade, a couple of the guys in my class came up to me and asked me if I were a virgin. I’d never heard the word before (a clue that I didn’t grow up Catholic, I guess), and it sounded a bit like a “bad word” to me– something I also assumed based on the boys asking me. I didn’t want to admit I didn’t know the word, so I said “no.” They of course, cracked up.
    Oh, that answer has haunted me ever since. *shudder*
    ~ Mel. (a fellow gamer geek)

  15. yo my boyfriend brock up with me after 2 years i hate you it is all your fault . how can you live with your pathetic self.if you had a life this would not have happend.
    65.166.157.9

  16. HEY! WIL I WANT TO GO OUT WITH U, IM IN 4TH GRADE N IM SO KOOL. CU AT SKOOL WIL, CU L8R GUYZ

  17. Am I the only one here that watched geek tv before remote controls? We had maybe five channels. We’d bang the rabbit ears to try and get snowy reception from PBS in Boston. A show called Zoom,I wrote every week asking for a “Danny” card (the cutest) and never got one. Kids were filmed creating their inventions and their instructions were on the Zoon kids promo cards. There was a show on after it called Electric Company. Is that the same Conjunction Junction song?
    “Nine Oh One Two Fourrr…Send it to ZOOOM!!!”

  18. A friend of mine is hooked on forwarding emails with a deep thought moral story. People on the internet don’t copy and paste the date, origins, or credit the author. The following was at the end of the story sent last weekend. So the below is from ???
    People will forget what you said…
    People will forget what You did……
    But people will never forget how you made them feel.

  19. I remember even as a Canadian watching SHR and Zoom. What a hoot PBS was with all those shows. They still have some of the higher quality shows out there such as Nova. I am proud to say I was one of those geeks, like you, that watched those shows. We continue to be the people in this world who are actually making a difference in all aspects of life…
    You make us all feel good!!
    Keep it up Wil!!

  20. No dice on Ebay. My Zoom cards were thrown out in a fit of rage by my dad on a hot summer road trip with three kids in the back seat. Long for him til he threw them out. Long for me after.
    I’m thinking Doug has a “Danny” card.
    Do ya? Do ya?! heh heh

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