Friday, July 8, 2011

Facebook, Fecesbook, and Most Importantly, Mr. Blakely's Revenge

Facebook is kind of like Judgment Day: Both maketh the earth to split open and spew forth The Dead—the one difference being that Judgment Day is slated to do this just once while Facebook does it continually.

Sometimes it spews forth the Actual Dead, when a Friend surprises you with the obit. Other times it spews forth someone you’d merely prefer to be--well, if not necessarily actually dead, at least evermore dead to the fact that you’re not—and when such a nightmare occurs you stop referring to Facebook as Facebook and. if you're me, insist on calling it Fecesbook.

And every once in a fabulous while it spews forth someone you feared might be dead, but fervently wished and hoped to be not, and you’re so delighted to learn they’re alive that you go back to calling Fecesbook Facebook—on a temporary basis, of course, depending on whom it speweth forth next. 

This very thing just happened to me when a girl I’ll call Rose--a brilliant, edgy, hilarious girl whose chutzpah I worshiped throughout junior high until she moved on at the age of 15--left a message on my proverbial wall and let me know that she was still living.

Emails ensued, followed by phone calls, all of which hurtled me back to eighth grade when Rose was the only girl in our blond Republican trust-fundy school to dare come to class wearing beatnik black tights. She even wore them to English which was taught by the meanest man in the world, who was also the homeliest man in the world, the relentlessly mocked and maligned Mr. Blakely.

I didn’t have Mr. Blakely for English but I had him for homeroom which meant I started each school day studying his unfortunate head and, when I could manage to look away from his head, his equally unfortunate body which was always encased in an ancient, ill-fitting and sad, tattered suit, which was always in desperate need of a cleaning.

Feeling not so attractive myself, I actually ached for his homeliness, which was sort of a combo of Ichabod Crane and an aging decrepit Alfred E. Neuman if Neuman had just come back from the wars. Mr. Blakely actually had come back from the wars, or at least World War II, and, though of course we knew nothing about such things then, suffered from PTSD and off-putting tics that included a penchant for hideous humming.

One day, when class was about to begin but Mr. Blakely had yet to arrive, Rose found herself standing up to perform a spot-on imitation of Blakely, complete with the frightening buzz of his humming. Everyone laughed and of course Mr. Blakely lurched into the room just before she was finished. And Rose, who ran in horror back to her seat, wondered why he took it in silence instead of sending her off to the dean to be sentenced to several years of detention.

Ten minutes later she was still wondering. 

Fifteen minutes later she sort of stopped wondering and began to relax and even enjoy this unexplained but still vital triumph.

Twenty minutes later Mr. Blakely stopped reading The Red Badge of Courage and, with an abrupt change in lessons plans, lurched to the blackboard to teach the class to diagram sentences. He always, of course, looked worse standing up, when you could see him in his homely totality with his uneven gait, bald and yet greasy comb-over head, and stooped tweedy shoulders spattered as ever with several years' worth of old and new dandruff.

Clearing his throat even while humming, Mr. Blakeley wrote on the board, in giant letters lest somebody miss it, this somewhat atypical sentence:

The girl in the black tights looks hideous. 

Every eye swiveled  to Rose’s black legs, making her slump way down in her seat and, as often happens in the eighth grade, die a slow and distraught inner death.

A subtle and silent revenge, slyly doled out by a tormented man.

Almost fifty years later it warms me with hope.


  1. I had to eliminate Fecesbook, there were too many things spewing forth from where they should have stayed safely flushed.

    It would be almost worth having an account, though, for the beautifully dastardly Mr. Blakely...

  2. Very artful, Mr. B. Makes you think about what all the trolls greasily lolopping around out there really have going on in their internal dialogues...