Some people loved high school, some people hated high school, but most of us were high school stereotypes of some sort. My stereotype was the quiet loner who everybody tries to take advantage of–once. With that stereotype, do you think I was in the group that long high school school or hated it? I truly did hate high school, I didn’t fit in with any particular group, and was constantly taking unpopular stands. But love it or hate it, we all had to deal with the high school stereotypes. There was the bully in two forms–the guy in class who was the biggest, dumbest, and meanest, who therefore expressed his frustrations by pushing others around. The second kind of bully was the gym teacher, who was usually also the football coach, who blustered around and made gym class miserable for the rest of us. Those bullies were easy to pick out, but there was another kind that was much more subtle. There is a kind of bully that we see everyday, and don’t realize that they are indeed a bully until we look back and see how our behavior was manipulated by them. I’m talking about the prissy High School librarian stereotype.
Our gym teacher/football coach was Ed Veith–the only teacher I had in those 4 years whose name I remember. He was a big and blocky ex-Marine, hair so short it looked shaved (he could have been losing his hair, but eschewed the comb over), his voice was gruff–he was really “rockin” (as they say today) the tough guy stereotype. This was in 1960-1964. The prissy librarian was also rockin’ her stereotype–always shushing people, or glaring when she got hoarse, full of “lessons” and platitudes, knowing everything about books and subjects, less about life (I guess, I really didn’t know her that well). In her own way, she was a bully in her domain, just with a different style than Mr. Veith.
Fast forward to 2018, the U.S. has a President who acts out the stereotype of the high school bully, but more like the class bully than the gym teacher bully. I really recommend he lose the comb over and cut his hair Marine Corps short. Our neighbor to the North, Canada, has a Premier who is more like the prissy librarian, a different kind of bully, laying down platitudes and guilt trips rather than threats and bluster. While it isn’t necessary to be any kind of bully in order to be chief executive of a country, I know which kind I prefer.
Mr. Veith also taught sex education to the men–a common vocation of male gym teachers in those days. His advice was simple and direct, just like my father’s, and as I got older I had a few occasions to see his and my dad’s faces and hear their voices when I was tempted to pressure young ladies into sex. “Men, and I call you that because I expect you to live up to a man’s responsibility, honor women. That means you never force yourself on them, and you make sure never to get a woman pregnant out of wedlock. I don’t mean use condoms, I mean self discipline. Wait until marriage. We’re all starting to hear this idea thrown about–“pro choice”–and you should be pro-choice. Just choose not have sex until you can support your woman. But if you ever get a woman pregnant, make the right choice–marriage. You’ll grow into your responsibility, and that will turn to love.”
I never forgot his advice–I was intimidated by Mr. Veith when in high school but grew to respect his opinion once I was making my own choices. I’m sure the librarian must have had advice too–I just don’t remember a word of it.