I’ve always had this theory that all of that “Back in my day, kids didn’t etc, etc” was just the golden hue of ill-remembered hindsight. There always has been crime, and murder, and rape, and incest, and lies, and horror; and most likely there always will be. For every time I shake my head in sadness and bewilderment while watching the news, there has been somone in the past doing likewise under the same or similar circumstance; no matter how much it doesn’t feel like it.
And lately, it hasn’t felt like it much at all. Lately, it’s felt like it is worse now than it has ever been, with no respite in sight. Or, in the far better words of Peter Gibbons:
So I’m sitting in my cubicle today and I realized that ever since I started working, every day in my life has been worse than the day before it. So that means that every day you see me, that’s the worst day of my life.
What about today? Is today the worst day of your life?
Woah, that’s messed up.
Which is funny, but this memory really isn’t it. That memory being something I recalled after reading about the high school teacher sending love letters to one of her students. “Sick.” I thought to myself, “What is the world coming to when 32 year old teachers have to look for 17 year olds for dates?” But then, of course, I remembered, this had happened before…to me.
OK, not really to me, but I was feeling the dramatic tension, sorry.
This did happen, though, to one of my friends while I was in high school. The sex was the opposite, but I think the ages were about the same. The 30-something year old music teacher was apparently giving the 17 year old friend of mine “private lessons” for the better part of our senior year. I’m not sure how it was discovered, but I imagine something like, “I’m going over to Mr. Johnson’s for my lesson, I’ll grab something for dinner on the way back.” Followed by, “Oh dear, Susie forgot her music, we better rush it over before she notices.” Close-in shot of mom’s eyes widening as she looks through the window, fade to black and call it a wrap.
Mr. Johnson disappeared the same day as the rumors hit campus, and poor Susie was never the same again. You could see the struggle going on within her, divided as she was between loyalty to the man she maybe loved and the anger she was supposed to feel at the teacher taking advantage of her. You could see it in her eyes, though, he wasn’t so much taking advantage as participating in something, no matter how inappropriate, they both felt.
It didn’t really strike me until today how unbelievably terrible that experience must have been for everyone involved. At the time, it was pure hilarity, but in hindsight it is sick and tragic.
I’m not sure whatever happened to Susie. I know she finished out the year and must therefore not have eloped with Mr. Johnson, who was said to have left town forever. Did she get asked to prom? I don’t recall, most likely not. I hope she had the good sense to go to college (and she was college-bound) somewhere out of state where she could at least be an all-new Susie…
And the wheels of the bus go ’round and ’round.