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

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. You were doomed from the start, man, lose-lose situation. If you did admit to watching “Schoolhouse Rock” the Cool Kids would never admit they did.
    I have always really admired the person who put the Preamble to the Constitution to a melody and made it almost rhyme so kids like me could get through Civics class. Let’s see them try it with a Form 1040.
    I remember waiting with anticipation for the Superfriends’ first season to start, about 1972 I think. That was about the same time that Star Trek The Animated Series aired. Wonder how Wesley would look in acetate and ink… . The networks would run an evening special the week before the lineup aired, to promote the shows to us kids, anyone else remember that?

  2. The Preamble….a great song I (still) know by heart!
    Way back when, my high school history teacher told us to recite the preamble for extra credit. I think there was only a few kids who didn’t know the song, but since we had a week, they learned from friends. When that Monday came, the teacher was very suprised when we sang our assignment! Afterward he asked where we got the song, and we explained the whole Schoolhouse Rock series being on between Saturday morning cartoons years before. Needless to say, we all got the extra credit, and to this day I thank Schoolhouse Rock for boosting my grade!
    Excuse me, as now I have to go buy the DVD!

  3. Wil,
    School house rock saved me a lot of time with some school work. It is great how much can be remembered from a song. You really should have learned how to stay out of the way of those dodge balls. Fear made me very quick. You would have driven those bullies crazy.

  4. It’s funny how we remember those ‘cool kids/ mean kids.’ Even their last names and EXACTLY what they said (not to mention where and who was also there!). There are a few good kids we hardly remember though- it’s that unfortunate?
    all the best wil

  5. Gee – I remember those grade school days well. To fit in at my school, though, we had to play 4-square….if there were 3 “Cool Kids” and 1 “Total Geek” (The geek being myself) they’d gang up on the Total Geek to completely humilate them. Amazing how day after day we uncool kids would subject ourselves to such treatment just to fit in.
    I, too, enjoyed the irony that the cool kid is a chem teacher and you’re an actor/writer. Go Wil!

  6. What makes this any different than anyone elses geek of the week stories? You didn’t suffer much Wil if that is all you had done to you! What about the thousands of kids a day that get the shit beat out of them and then you have some that kill because they are tired of being bullied. You won’t find sympathy here. I’m sure it was uncool but as a wise relative once told me, ‘if you’re looking for sympathy it’s in the dictionary between shit and syphilis’. I still love ya!

  7. *stares at the person who thought wil wanted sympathy* Wow, you really did miss the point.
    Anyway had to make a super important comment on Super Friends: “Wonder Twin powers, activate!”
    That cracked me up every time….and hey, didn’t they have a pet monkey or something?

  8. Lol… Aww!!!! Did you get hit in PE? lol….
    Thats happened to me countless times… now i just tell what i think…. screw making up shit… I like being Odd!

  9. Actor/ Writer Writer/ Actor.
    First of all…I was seeing if anyone else would perceive the difference.
    Secondly…Wil. What have I been telling you?
    So now I can officially tell you…I TOLD YOU SO!

  10. Mr. Purser isn’t that bad , although he is one of “the cool teachers” now, as much as an oxymoron as that sounds like. I still stand by my statement that he looks like a goat.
    I hate dodge ball too.

  11. i have this mental picture of the guy going online, and dialing up ol uncle willies website, reading all this and saying ‘hey..i do NOT look like a goat!’….
    hey wil, once again, great story…
    like you i used to love school house rock..
    although i live here in canada, and some of the civics stuff kinda through me….
    ….and yet, ‘im just a bill on capital hill’ was always my favourite!
    cheers wil, and for the record..i think most of us (well, ALL of us probably except one) read this without thinking that you were fishing for sympathy for some long forgotten schoolyard trauma….
    i thought the story was a pretty funny recollection, and something most of us can relate to….
    cheers wil, if we were ever to have to select a ‘leader of the geeks’ you’d be number one with a bullet…
    especially with a posse like us.. 😉

  12. Richard William Wheaton III
    Wil have you ever met Wil Wheaton Jr.?? Funny to see that you once played a ‘Scottie’.
    Just stuff I picked up from, an interesting career thus far Wil. I had no idea you were so busy but then I’m only used to seeing you on TNG.

  13. Hey Wil Saw the ST Nemesis film and my husband and I have come up with the reason why Wesley isn’t in the film except for the begining. Wesley would have solved the problem too quickly and wouldn’t have made obvious errors in judgement like the grown-ups. Wes 1 trillion points Adults Zilch. SORRY for the ST fan girl trip. I just got back form seeing the flick.

  14. geez and I thought I was the only one who got picked on.
    My problem is that I’m so short, under 5 ft that is and that is one reason I got picked on.
    It is weird to hear that you Wil got picked on in school.
    But you know what?
    It just makes you stronger as a person and it made me realize that some other kid could be going through the same thing!

  15. Geez,
    You guys actually remember the names of kids with whom you were in elementary school? Gods forfend! I *can* remember the kids from high school, but there were only 8 of us.
    You know what to do with the address…

  16. innnnn-terjection! shows excitement! and emotion!!
    i laughed very hard that that last sentence. and since i had a rough weekend… thank you, wil wheaton. may you’re good karma benefit you soon.
    fargo, nd

  17. I remember seeing snippets of the show in between the cartoon shows I watched. The only ones I remember are how a law is made and “Conjunction Junction”…every now and again I get that ditty stuck in my head. Like now… *sigh*
    I used to get picked on because I was a chubby little one. =/ I felt the pain. But now you have a big following of 5000+ monkeys on your website. I’d say that’s a sweet kind of revenge for that kind of rejection you suffered in grade school. :)
    Rock on. =P

  18. It’s funny how reality morphs, Wil.
    When the kids would torment me on the school yard in 5th grade I would usually slip into a daydream of you pulling up in a limo and wisking me away to some far off lair, where I would bare you 7 children by the names of:
    Dustin, Pepper, Louis, Tara, Sara, Michelle and Adam.
    Ok so maybe the fantasies weren’t that indepth but they were frequent. You being my crush ever since I was four. You were always my hope when things were looking dire. There were also many “Gordie” sightings around my small city.
    Now, at the tender age of 20 I have learned to rely on my own skills and determinations, not fanciful imaginary heros.
    Also I don’t need to try and fit in with the cool folk…I gave up long ago. My boyfriend and I are both geeks and “dorks” as we love to chime at one another.
    I still get a little star struck when I come here…just a little. I guess that’s the magical part of being a child, conjuring up these escapes from reality…coping mechanisms…yah. Some don’t easily fade.

  19. I am an amendment to be yes an amendment to be,
    and im hopin that they’ll ratify me…
    Cuz there’s a lot of flag burners,
    who have got to much freedom
    i wanna make it legal for policeman to beat em,
    cuz there’s limits to our liberty…
    forget the rest…simpsons!

  20. Hey, what about us klutzes (sp?) who always got picked last at any physical game like dodge ball? The one everyone aimed at first? Although I did get to be pretty good at dodge ball, so maybe there’s an upside to that condition.
    How about being a bookworm, too? Being one probably leads to being the other. How about a bookworm klutz who wears glasses?
    Sure wish I had been able to figure out back then that it was OK to be what I was. Doesn’t mean you can’t change, but you shouldn’t feel that you have to change so that you meet someone else’s idea of what is normal.

  21. Lolly Lolly Lolly – get your Adverbs here!!!!
    Wil – I love you more and more everytime you take us for a stroll down nostalgia lane. I was also the total geek who loved Schoolhouse Rock.
    The cool thing for me is American Forces Network (being at Ramstein Air Base, Germany), still plays those clips from time to time. Yes, I’ll still pause long enough to watch one.

  22. Five!Ten!Fifteen!Twenty! Twenty five!Thirty!Thirty five! Fourty!Fourty five!Fifty!Fifty five!Sixty!Sixty five!Seventy! Senty five!Eighty!Eighty five!Ninety!Ninety five!One hundred!
    Ready or not, here I cooo-oooommmmmme!!
    AGGGH! Dammit you, Wil! It took me twenty years to get that song outta my head!

  23. Does ANYONE have any idea, what the point of dodgeball WAS??? Besides making me fear Gym with mortal terror???
    -David (the artist formerly known as CartoonBeagle. ICQ# 26215015)

  24. Hey Wil,
    Did it ever occur to you that no matter how you answered the question about School House Rocks, that it would have always been the wrong answer? If you liked it, they would have guffawed about what a little baby you were, and if you didn’t like it, they would have called you “uncool” which is basically what they did.
    The best revenge is not to do better than the people in the past that had made fun of you (that is all relative). The best revenge is to be happy and I believe you have already exacted it.

  25. Wil,
    That is freaky!! My 4 1/2 yr old daughter was just asking me about SHR over breakfast this morning!!!! It must be in the air!!!
    Also, I always dated geeks in highschool & college & even married one. That was not my plan & I liked alot of cool guys but they seemed to treat their girlfriends horribly. I’m glad I stuck w/ the geeks!!!!

  26. I spent most of my school days watching the “cool kids” of the early 80s evolve into the convicts of the 90s.
    I always find it funny to think about the fact that the very same girl that used to do anything she could to make me look dumb in grade school ended up being the first date, the first kiss and the first…Well, you get the picture 😉 If I hadn’t moved so far away our first year in high school, I probably would have married her!
    Funny how some things turn out like that.
    Anyway, in reference to this post from earlier:
    “Anyway had to make a super important comment on Super Friends: “Wonder Twin powers, activate!”
    That cracked me up every time….and hey, didn’t they have a pet monkey or something?
    Posted by Jenny Finster at January 5, 2003 01:43 PM”
    The Wonder Twins did in fact have a pet monkey, named Gleek :)

  27. The grammar rock ones were pretty good, but the History Rock ones were pretty unabashedly Republican in their outlook. Just check out “elbow room” if you don’t believe me. You can almost hear the German version:
    “Leibensraum, leibensraum, Ich ben

  28. Seems a point was missed here by a number of folks. Luckily, the rest seemed to have gotten it. The nostalgia trip was fun for me too. We bought a couple of the Schoolhouse Rocks videos on tape for our kids, and I will be hunting them down on DVD now that they’re available.
    I watched Saturday Morning cartoons for years, then I suddenly realized that I could read books on the weekends instead. No more cartoons.
    Geek, I am.

  29. hey uh wil, why did you delete my comment? and why did you put up my ip address? hopeing that one of your devoted fans is a hacker and will attack me? thats just wrong wil my man. i even went and saw you in TNG Nemesis. I was just making conversation with you unlike these other people who are just posting things like you’re just the greatest. whats the problem wil? i just wanted to see why you were nominated so many times. sheesh. can’t take a little a criticizm huh? too bad. maybe that’s why you got your scenes cut from the movie 😀

  30. Oh, I meant when you were older! Please, when I was 11 the only wisdom I had was to get in lunch line really early when they were serving pizza otherwise it would run out :-)

  31. “OOh! That smarts!”
    “Ouch! That hurts!”
    “YOW! That’s not fair, givin’ a guy a shot down there!”
    I had JUST gotten this stuff out of my head from my brother’s recent visit.
    Now, you bring it back.
    You bring it all back like it was YESTERDAY!!!
    Damn you, Wil Wheaton! Damn you all to HELL!!!

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