Friday, March 2, 2018

Mr. Rubenstein Saves 8th Grade Math!

Miles isn’t exactly Dave Chapelle, but if you don’t laugh at his jokes, he’ll make you cry for it. He’ll seek you out at lunchtime, him and his little posse of troublemakers, and embarrass you, or even hurt you, like that time they like converged on Carl Sobel, the smartest boy in our class, and took his sack lunch away from him. Miles took a big bite out of the sandwich, chewed for a while, and then told Isaí and Jin Soo, his two like lieutenants, to hold Carl, and spat his mouthful of chewed sandwich in Carl’s face, and said, “Your mother can’t cook any better than she can suck dick,” and his whole little group of thugs laughed like it was the funniest thing they’d ever heard. But Miles was just getting started. He chewed another mouthful, and then spat it into his hand and rubbed it all over Carl’s chest. 

Him and Jin Soo are in my math class. Some day, if somebody asks me why I’m really terrible at math, I’ll explain that Miles and Jin Soo were in my math class. My dad says that President Trump seems to see every speech as a chance to do like a standup comedy routine, and that’s how Miles sees Mr. Rubenstein’s math class. If we’re studying fractions, to give you some idea, Miles will raise his hand and ask Mr. Rubenstein if he agrees that frictions are necessary to come, and everybody except Mr. Rubeinstein better laugh. If Mr. Rubenstein tries to pretend not to notice Miles’s raised hand, Miles will loudly annoy one of our classmates who sits near him. LIke maybe he’ll tap Ronnie Bateman, the shyest kid in the world, who sits right in front of him, on the head with his pencil and say, “Yo, Master Bateman, what up, dawg?” or, “Yo, Ronnie, what’s this I hear about your having the biggest collection of gay porn in the whole school, and you having Mr. Rubenstein over to watch it with you?” Mr. Rubenstein tried sending Miles to the principal a couple of times early in the school year, but whatever Mr. Fowler said to Miles didn’t work. Miles was heard bragging that if Principal Fowler gave him shit, he’d have him fired. His mom’s like a councilwoman or something. 

A lot of us got a good laugh out of President Trump’s idea that teachers ought to be given guns in case some lunatic comes onto campus with an AR-15, or whatever. Miles was heard saying that if anybody came onto campus while he too was on it, he’d stick the gun’s barrel up his (it’s never a girl, is it?) ass and then pull the trigger. 

A lot of times after lunch, you can smell alcohol on Miles and his posse’s breath. He reeked of it on Monday. I sit three rows away from him, right next to the window, and even I could smell it. Mr. Rubenstein probably could too. He looked half nervous and half disgusted, and all frustrated because Mr. Fowler doesn’t like have his back. He sighed and said, “Well, today we’re back to decimals.” 

Miles belched really, like superhumanly, loudly. Everyone laughed, except Mr. Rubenstein. You had to admit it was pretty funny. “I seen you and your wife — at least I assumed she’s your wife — at Walmart on Sunday afternoon, Ruby. Not exactly Scarlett Johnson, is she? I’d give her maybe a 3. But I don’t imagine a lot of 8’s and 9’s are lined up to party with a dweeb like you.”

There wasn’t a lot of laughter at that. Even high school kids have a sense of decency. You can rag on a classmate’s girlfiend or boyfriend, but not a teacher’s. If looks could kill, Mr. Rubenstein’s would have killed Miles. “Its Johansson,” Mr. R said, super quietly. “Scarlett Johansson. And I really would shut up if I were you, Miles.”

“Oh,” Miles snickered, “is that so? And if I fuckin’ don’t? You going to come over and bore me to death talking about decimals or some such shit that we’re never going to use out in the real world?”

Mr. R took his keyring off one of the belt loops of his pants, unlocked the drawer of his desk, and produced a gun, just a little pistol, not like those you see cops or gangbangers using on TV, i think  you’d call it. Several of the kids like gasped. “No,” Mr. R said, “what I’m going to do is use this.” His face was scary — all like bright red, as though every drop of blood in his body was in it.

“Oh,” Miles said mockingly, “I’m like terrified. What have you got there, nine millimeters? You couldn’t stop a fuckin’ chihuahua with that thing, dawg.|“ 

I think he was expecting everybody to laugh, but the only person who did, not very convincingly, was Isaí.

“Why don’t we give your theory a test” Mr. R said, redder than ever, and shaking. Everybody gasped again as he pointed his little gun at Miles, who, to give credit where due, still wasn’t like intimidated or whatever. He stood up and whacked himself hard on the chest, like a gorilla or whatever. “I’m fuckin’ waiting, dickweed,” he said. “Let’s see what you got.”

He didn’t have to wait long. Mr. R pulled his trigger, and his little gun made a sort of pathetic popping sound, kind of like the sound someone imitating a champagne bottle being opened makes with his finger in his cheek. Ronnie Bateman yelped. Mr. R wasn’t very weapon-adept, to use President Trump’s phrase. He’d missed Miles completely.  

And Mr. Rubenstein is supposed to like protect me if somebody like Nikolas Cruz comes to my math class with an AR-15? Yeah. Right.

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