Nursery School, Temple Beth Sholom – Hull, MA. Every morning, as my mother got me dressed, she’d remind me to refrain from throwing a “temper tantrum.” I had no idea what a temper tantrum was, until one day, when fishing around in the toy box, I came across a blue plastic dreidel. Being the only goy in a Jewish nursery school, I was at a distinct cultural disadvantage; I decided that this dreidel was, in fact, a “temper tantrum.” I made damn sure not to throw it, ever, and was constantly outraged when my teachers informed my mother every afternoon that I had thrown it.
Kindergarten, Saint Paul’s School – Hingham, MA. Chased a boy around the room with one of those thick, stubby pencils they used to teach us how to write our names.
First Grade, Saint Paul’s School. Sent to principal’s office for “talking back” to the gym teacher. To this day, I still don’t quite understand what “talking back” is supposed to mean.
Second Grade, Saint Paul’s School. In the months leading up to First Holy Communion, we were drilled in the correct procedure: approach the priest very soberly and reverently, and accept an unconsecrated host either in your cupped hands, or on your tongue. If you choose the former, step aside and carefully bring the host to your mouth. In my eagerness to prove my enthusiasm for receiving this most important of sacraments, I accepted the host in my studiously cupped hands, and promptly shoveled it into my mouth in one, sweeping, bulldozer-like gesture, much to the amusement of my classmates. I was sent back to the end of the line.
Third Grade, Saint Paul’s School. Discovered and fell in love with the concept of sarcasm when, having forgotten to do my homework assignment (a “theme” on dinosaurs), I hastily jotted several incoherent sentences and turned it in. Mrs. Keating glanced at it, looked at me, and said, “Well, this one’s hot off the press.”
“Hot off the press.” Wow.
Fourth Grade, Saint Paul’s School. In a move that surely heralded what would be my future in the wacky world of self-publishing, my cohorts Ricky, Timmy and I created a sophisticated humor magazine called “Itchy Butt,” which we then shared with selected classmates, one of whom ratted on us and turned it in to Miss Condon.
Fifth Grade, Saint Paul’s School. I don’t remember getting in trouble that year.