Creation Myths, Part Two
So there I was again: the office with the frosted glass window on the door that read “DR. RICHARD SIX–PRINCIPAL.”
Dr. Six glared at me, no doubt trying to develop a coping strategy for my potential delinquency. First a pervert, now an upstart know it all? Who did I think I was–the Italian Prime Minister?
This time my father was coming. I couldn’t decide if this was a good thing. My father was the gentlest soul I have ever known, but he was working two jobs: managing a drive-in theatre at night, and driving a taxi cab during the day (bonus: when the black and white cab was parked in the driveway, neighborhood kids thought my dad was a cop. I got a welcome respite from bullying.) If he was on his way, he was interrupted from his only four-hour window of sleep. What would that mean for me?
I discovered shortly after he was escorted into the office. He looked exhausted–flushed skin, bloodshot eyes, unkempt hair. I instantly felt guilty, and sank further into my seat. And near as I can recall, what follows was the exchange between the principal and my father.
Dr. Six began. “Kevin was sent to my office for being rude and disruptive in class.”
My father eyed Dr. Six with confusion, then turned to me just as baffled. ”He was?” I couldn’t look him in the eye.
“Yes,” Dr. Six continued. ”He interrupted Mrs. Rathbun during her lesson–”
“Who the hell is Mrs. Rathbun?”
Dr. Six was taken aback. He was clearly not used to being spoken to this way. My eyes perked up a little, because I had never heard my father express impatience with anybody. Dr. Six cleared his throat.
“That’s Kevin’s teacher.”
“Rathbun? Her name is Rathbun?” Wait a minute. Dad’s making fun of Mrs. Rathbun’s name? We always made fun of her name behind her back. I suddenly started to feel better–like my father was protecting me.
Dr. Six plodded along. ”"Yes. Kevin corrected her during a science lesson.” For a second, although I cannot be certain, my father looked like he tried to suppress a smile. He then turned to me and said, “Tell me what happened.”
Dr. Six rose from his chair. “Look, Mr. Brodie, I really don’t think–”
“Yes. I’ve noticed.” The principal stood dumbfounded, his mouth agape. “I’d very much like to hear what my son has to say.” My father turned back to me, clearly uninterested whether Dr. Six approved.
I always found it easier to speak to my father, because he waited for me to finish, and never showed the slightest irritation with my stammer. I took a breath: “S-s-she s-s-said dinosaurs ex-existed at the s-s-same t-t-ime as cavemen.”
My father nodded, patted me on my shoulder. He turned back to Dr. Six. “Is that true?”
“Well, that’s not really the point–”
“Oh, I think it is.
“Mr. Brodie, try to understand–”
“You’re an idiot!”
What? What? Oh my god–did my father just call the principal an idiot? To his face? Not only that, his voice did something else I had never heard it do before: it rose!
“And that Mrs. Ratbomb–or whatever the hell her name is–is also an idiot! You’ve got a teacher doing science lessons with second graders telling them that dinosaurs and early humans overlapped! And in your wisdom decide the real problem is the fact that my seven-year-old son had the nerve to know more than she does? You don’t need to wake me up after working twenty hours and waste my time with goddamn foolishness! You need to get Mrs. Ratsass in here and explain to her what the hell science is!”
I couldn’t believe what was happening. Who was this angry man who looked like my father? Had he been possessed by a demon? Was he really the Hulk? (“Dad smash!”) In spite of my disbelief, I was beginning to grow confident that I wasn’t going to be in trouble. I was starting to worry that Dr. Six might be, though.
My father continued his rant. “What are you trying to teach him? That he shouldn’t be right? That he should just shut up and listen, even if he’s taught something false? Is that your theory of education? Where the hell did you learn to run a school? Madrid?”
“Mr. Brodie, I think that’s–”
“Shut up!” He turned and extended his hand to me. “Come on, son” his voice instantly reverting to normal. “Let’s go home.”
He led me into the foyer, and it was then that I realized that my father’s tirade and drawn a crowd. All of the office staff, several teachers and students had gathered to see what the ruckus was. My father turned and stared down Dr. Six one last time. He then slammed the door with such fury I actually jumped.
I looked back at it just long enough to see the words “DR. RICHARD SIX–PRINCIPAL” disappear, and the floor cover with shattered glass. Framed by the empty window that once held his name and title was Dr. Six’ horrified face, his eyes the size of salad plates.
Oh, man. That’s it. We are so in trouble now.
My father, though, simply took a step forward, and got in one last dig: “Serves you right, you bloody fascist.” Then we walked out, all of the gathered staff staring at us like catatonic mental patients.
After that, Mrs. Rathbun never said a word to me, and Dr. Six was transferred to another school. My father was never billed for the door.
Postscript: Later, I learned that those who espouse the belief in Creationism include the perspective that dinosaurs and early humans coexisted, given that the universe is no more than 10,000 years old. This is likely what Mrs. Rathbun believed. You know–science.