The only reason for your education is so you will know when some son of a bitch is lying to you.
— My High School U.S. History Teacher
My old high school history teacher was a big influence on me. This probably comes as a surprise to many people, and it is a surprise to me. He class was about as uninspiring as it gets. It was lots of brute memorization. There was no textbook. You brought in a bunch of loosleaf paper in a binder and took notes. Notes is perhaps too strong a word. He would list, say, a group of Spanish explorers the date they explored and the regions they explored. You would copy this list down from the blackboard. We knew, up front, that this would be the test. Memorize this list verbatim, barf it back out onto a blank sheet of paper for the test, and you get an A. Seems easier today than it did back then.
This teacher was also known to drink a bit. This being New Orleans, it wasn’t unusual to drink a bit, but to be mentioned as a person who was “a drinker” in that world was a statement in itself. Today it seems clear that some of these lectures were alcohol fuelled, but I can’t say that for certain. I do know that out of the daily tedium, he would occasionally make some frankly hilarious statements, sometimes about US history, sometimes not. I think they were lost on most of the students. It wasn’t like we were looking out for these antic outbursts. I don’t recall discussing them with classmates. But I was paying attention.
The quote above is one of a few of his I still remember, fourty years on. There always seems to be someone feeding you a line, usually trying to make you part with some hard earned cash. I can’t say it has gotten worse over the years. Maybe it has, maybe it hasn’t. I do notice it more, and I always remember my old teacher, slightly red faced in a seersucker suit raving at a bunch of bored high school kids.
One of the things I dragged around with me, city to city, over the years, is that binder full of notes. I’m not sure why. I supose in case I ever need the quickly get a list of the Spanish explorers of the US Gulf Coast, the dates of their exploration and the regions they explored.