Leisure rules: My life in one act (of not doing anything)
I am a card -carrying Ferris Bueller fan.
OK, it’s a signed photo and movie poster but the real point is, neither will fit in my wallet.
There is a poem written by W.H. Davis, aptly titled, “Leisure Poem,” that was first published in 1911 and it’s said that this poem was inspired by the sonnet, “The World Is Too Much with Us,” by William Wordsworth.
The poem instructs us to enjoy life and nature once in a while to in order to have a fulfilling and meaningful life.
“What is this life, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare. No time to stand beneath the boughs, and stare as long as sheep and cows.”
Even Old McDonald gets the gist.
Long before there was “Bueller…Bueller…Bueller…anyone, Bueller? There was me.
I was called an intractable student by my chemistry teacher Mr. Shattuck. Or was that biology. Frog. Beaker. It’s not important.
All I know is I wore his word proudly. My parents, not so much.
I do have a fond memory of one senior year science class, where my lab partner Brian Powers and I had to demonstrate the proper application of cardiopulmonary resuscitation on an acutely ill patient whose lack of breathing and/or heartbeat was kind of a problem.
The dummy’s name was Jerry Mahoney. He lived in an old box in my basement.
I remember a friend of mine getting a BB gun for his ninth birthday. I got a ventriloquist dummy. Let’s play, “Name That Dork.”
Anyway, dressed in lab white lab coats, Brian and I wheeled the dummy into class and carefully hoisted him onto a table. At this point, we wanted to show the class the proper technique of gently applying uninterrupted chest compressions to restore breathing.
If you’re a doctor or a nurse reading this and feel I’m not conveying my message correctly, please forgive me, but don’t email me with technique tips. I’m not a doctor but trust me, my handwriting is just as bad a yours’.
Back to science: My partner and I began working on our patient, explaining to the class that applying too much pressure could cause serious injury.
Just then we screamed in horror, as the attached pump that secretly fed a tube through the dummy’s mouth squirted red liquid everywhere. All over us, all over him. All over.
I don’t think our patient made it, but we did get an A. I wonder how a stunt like that would go over in today’s classroom. I doubt, may I say, with flying colors.
To put it mildly, there were just times growing up when I needed a day off.
I recall discussing my savoir faire attitude with my guidance counselor, who told me that with the skills I possessed, I would be best suited in academics as a guidance counselor.
Today I praise guidance counselors. But back in the day… this was 1982. And to think back, I believe if my guidance counselor himself had a good guidance counselor when he was graduating, he probably wouldn’t have become a guidance counselor.
Most of my teachers thought I would become a lawyer. Or an actor. Or at the very least, the unit supervisor of my own prison cell block.
Back to my leisure in school.
Today, there’s undoubtedly an app for that.
In my day, there was a hall pass for that.
I played racquetball with my principal, played quarters with my history teacher and dated another teacher’s daughter.
Yes, I was a rapscallion.
In the sixth grade, I became buds with my elementary school gym teacher, Mr. Butler. I would frequently get a note from him to assist in his gym classes with underclassmen. You know, lowly second graders.
I recall the day a note was sent to my homeroom teacher, Mr. Adams, with a request from Mr. Butler, asking for me to join him for class in the cafegymatorium.
Mr. Adams blurted, “What? That little con artist is down there already!”
Of course, I wasn’t. I was seated in his classroom, smiling ever so glibly.
With my extraordinary amount of extracurricular activities throughout my 12 years in the Nashua School system, I don’t remember ever attending class for very long. But I had a voracious appetite for books and reading. Still do.
I wasn’t a truant, mind you. But even then, back in the ’70s, you could leave school property to go home for lunch, no questions, asked.
I did. We lived right across the street from my school and my mom was always there for me with a hot lunch and a hot TV.
I mean that the TV was on; not that she stole it.
Hooky was a game. Fool the adult. Trick the teacher.
Everyone but Miss Gertrude. With a name like a German tank, there was no messing with Miss Gertrude. She was an ex-nun. I’m telling you mister, don’t mess with a sister.
But do heed this advice: Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
George Pelletier may or may not be reachable at firstname.lastname@example.org.