Can you picture this?
1974 or 1975
Math, history or english class @ Poolesville high school in rural Poolesville, MD
Here is roughly what the classroom chairs/desks looked like back then:
The desks were lined up about 10 deep and at least 4, maybe 5 rows wide. There were at least 35 students in our English class back then.
To my right sat one of my classmate friends, Tammy. To my left a good friend named Clark. I proved what kind of friendship we had during class one day.
Being a good student, (really), I always showed up for class moments before everyone else. Even today people tease me saying I still do this, 35+ yrs later, so I can do some serious networking. Yeah, right, no one believes this. Any way, I got there early and started chatting it up with some of the other students.
Whole talking someone found a tack on the floor. For those of you unsure what I am referring to, it looked like this:
You may not be able to see that the pointy metal part of this thumb tack is about 1/4″ long. Maybe a tad longer.
Somebody said, “Man, that would freakin hurt if you sat on it.” The rest of laughed and agreed.
Then again, someone said, “Hey, Clarks not here yet, put it on his chair.” once again we all laughed and agreed.
For many reasons I was the one to put it on his chair. A) I was standing right beside his desk, B) I thought it would be as funny, if not funnier than some of the others, C) Yeah, I did not fully understand the science lesson that we (I) was about to experience.
So, I strategically (or with no real thought), placed the tack, point up, dead center on Clark’s chair. We all snickered, then scurried like the mischievous kids we were, back to our seats to await class, I mean, Clark to show up.
Now, there was more intelligence in the room than I lead you to believe. To my right Tammy whispered to me repeatedly, “That’s not smart, get the tack, get the tack NOW.” But for some reason I didn’t, or at least pretended not to hear her.
OK, here is where the science lesson really started.
Clark came into the room moments before class started and strutted up to his desk with a big smile on his face. You see, Clark was mostly always late for class, and he was beaming with happiness because he beat the Bell. I was actually happy for him myself and if I recall, I may have reached out to Hi-five him.
Now picture what happened in the next 3.25 seconds.
Clark slapped his books down on the desktop, slid into position to sit down, dropped onto the chair and KaBoom!
The immediate reaction was a result of all of Clark’s strength (farm boy) picking himself up off of the chair (I mean tack), raising the entire desk & chair off the floor, nearly above everyone’s head, as he exhaled a scream of vulgarities that totally freaked out everyone in the room.
Over the years I have thought long and hard at this next question, How did Clark know I did it? To this day, I still wonder.
As soon as his feet landed back on the floor, Clark lunged at me like a wild man, plowing me, my desk and books down on the floor up against the other row of desks, occupied by fellow classmates. He started waling on me like a crazy man. In a defensive action, I commenced waling back at him. It was total chaos until someone yelled, “here comes the teacher!”
A few classmates helped to stop us and to separate us. They then helped us to set the desks and chairs back up. This likely only took another 20 or 30 seconds, tops. The whole time I kept wondering when Clark would attack me again. I sort of expected it because after hearing him scream with pain, I felt like I still deserved more waling.
The class bell rang as Clark was collecting his books and standing next to his chair wondering if he could sit down.
I got back in my chair and straightened up my clothes and wiped most of the sweat off my face.
As the teacher walked into the classroom, she noticed Clark still standing next to his desk. “Late again Mr. B., nothing seems to change with you, does it?”
I heard Clark whimper as he sat down on his injured butt. He looked over at me with piercing eyes as if to say, “your turn next.”. I knew that was more than just a likelihood. Paybacks were hell back then.
I can’t recall talking about that science experiment ever again. I’m sure I got some payback later on.
I most definitely learned, quickly and clearly, that “every action has an equal, and sometimes greater reaction.”
Clark and I remained friends throughout high school and continued our mischeiveous activities even thru graduation.