The Only Time I Got Paddled (Spanked) in Public School: Gym Class, 8th Grade, May 1995

The Only Time I Got Paddled (Spanked) in Public School: Gym Class, 8th Grade, May 1995

While I’m definitely in the minority (20% of Americans) in that I don’t believe in spanking my own child as an efficient form of discipline, I think it has become a collectively weird thought for us as American parents to consider that not that long ago, students were still being spanked (with paddles!) in the public school system.

I managed to make it all the way through 13 years of public school (that includes Kindergarten, obviously) with only getting one paddling.

I had just turned 14; it was at the end of my 8th grade year, 20 years ago: May 1995.

It was a Friday at the end of gym class, during a “free play” day. A bunch of my friends were running towards the wall, then jumping as high as they could, to see how high they could press our feet on the wall.

The wall was built of concrete cinder blocks, so we could easily measure how high we jumped by the grout in between them, using the grout lines to measure the height of where our feet hit the wall.

Turns out, I jumped the highest that day. However, no one bothered to tell me that the gym coach had just warned the other guys that the next person he saw jumping on the wall would be paddled…

So the male gym coach took me to the locker room and paddled me 3 times with a wooden paddle, while the girls’ coach witnessed it.

I could sense she felt awkward being there; knowing I was “the good kid” who was playing the scapegoat that day.

When I emerged from the locker room, having just been hit by a wooden plank on my “bum”, all my friends were lined up waiting to give me a high five and cheer me on.

I suppose it was a perfect way to score some “cool points” just in time to prepare for high school.

The paddling was obviously not effective; especially since I wasn’t aware I was breaking the recently established rule until it was too late.

All it really did was make my friends think I was cool. It was like part of an initiation process, apparently.

Isn’t it bizarre to imagine that paddling (spanking) in the public schools was still going on in our lifetime?

These days, something like that could easily be perceived as harassment or abuse. Right?

A Snapshot’s Worth a Thousand Words: At My Parents’ House in Alabama

Here are 17 snapshots.  Plus the 301 words in the body of this post, not including this heading.  You’re dealing with around 2001 words, my friends.

Today I’m taking a break from writing to share some random items in my parents’ house in Alabama, where my wife and I spent the weekend.  It’s true that every picture has a story.  And these little stories make up our lives- they make up who we are.  So by looking through these snapshots of the house I grew up in, you’re taking a look into my memory pool- the same one I use to write from.

This is Samantha Shell.  In September, she turned 20 years old.  Samantha is a Cockatiel.

This is one of two windows in my bedroom.  My parents bought that little guitar for me when they went to The Philippines in 1995.

This is my sister’s bedroom, which has recently been transformed into a guest nursery for Baby Jack.

Here is my dad’s 1988 Ford Ranger he bought nearly new.  It’s still his main vehicle.

You never know when you might have to blow your nose while driving to work; less than a 10 minute drive for him.

He put these plastic lizard in the dashboard several years ago.  He says it successfully scares away flies.

This cross used to be dark red and white.  It was crocheted circa 1993 and has been hanging on his mirror since then.

This cross is my Italian grandfather’s.

And it opens up, as my mom demonstrates.

Two monkeys and my sister the ballerina.

Yours truly, from 1986 to 1999.

My parents and I in 1982.

My friend David Smith and I broke this Nashville mug that my dad bought for my mom when he went on a business trip.  We stayed up until after 1 AM to superglue it back together.  I’m not sure that it actually still holds liquid.

Classic frog and shroom.

My sister and I in 1991.

Local newspaper clips on the fridge. Busted!

Double busted!

Being a Handsome Man Vs. Being a Hot Guy

And why it ultimately doesn’t matter anyway thanks to a little something called “charm”.

Recently I asked my facebook friends via my status update, this question:

Females, I need your input for something I’m writing: What is the difference between a guy who is “handsome” and a guy who is “hot, sexy, etc.”?

To summarize the similarities of the responses, with a man who is “hot” there is an attraction (mostly physical), whereas  with a man who is “handsome” is someone who simply is a good-looking guy, though there is not necessarily any kind of attraction there.  Of course the ironic thing about this can best be summed up by what my friend Holly Arnesen said:

“if i refer to a guy as handsome, it usually means that physically speaking he’s nicely put together, but doesn’t necessarily mean i’m attracted. hot and sexy usually has to do with more than what a guy looks like. like some women think intelligence is sexy so, they’ll go for a smart guy over one that they think is nicer to look at.  i once heard someone say, ‘men fall in love with women they are attracted to, and women are attracted to the men they fall in love with.’ i’m not a guy, but i’m pretty sure this tends to be way things go.”

On the right, Bronson Pinchot, who played "Balki" on Perfect Strangers.

What enticed me to walk up to my future wife on October 5, 2006 and talk to her the very first time I saw her from across a large crowded room was her appearance.  Though it wasn’t until four months later to the day, on our first date (I knew it was a date but she didn’t until it was over), that she actually thought of me in any kind of romantic way.  My physical looks were irrelevant to the equation up until the point I made it clear I was interested in her, given that I’d shared with her my personality and character prior to day that we crossed the line from being friends to dating.

Until we started dating, I was just another average-looking dude.  A forgettable face.  Perhaps the most memorable physical trait would have been my dark hair.  Based on the celebrities that people have told me I look like in the last couple of years (“Cory Matthews” from Boy Meets World, “Balki” from Perfect Strangers, “Ross” from Friends, as well as David Arquette and Paul Rudd), I evidently have the looks of a Jewish-American comedian, which all of those Nick Shell look-alikes are.  Men that are remembered not for their looks, but for their personalities and talent.  Are those men handsome?  Sure, why not.  It’s irrelevant either way.

Ben Savage, who played "Corey Matthews" on Boy Meets World.

Speaking of David Schwimmer, I don’t believe anyone could have played the part of Ross better.  But to be part of one of the most popular romantic American TV couples ever, he was a very ordinary looking guy.  Fans of Friends always think of Ross and Rachel fondly, though never once have I ever heard anyone comment good or bad on David Schwimmer’s looks.  But regarding Jennifer Aniston, it’s not that way at all. Her looks were so relevant she actually started a hairstyle craze in 1995 called “The Rachel”.

When my wife and I reminisce on when we first started dating, she always says, “You always had interesting stuff to say so I knew we’d never run out of things to talk about.”  It’s possible that’s what won her over.  My quirkiness.  Some people would call it my ability to “think some crazy crap up”.  Others more reverently refer to it as “thinking deeply”.   My lifelong habit of daydreaming during math and science class definitely paid off.  I charmed her.

So if a guy is simply average-looking, how can he improve his situation?  The “Makeover Week” on the TV show The Biggest Loser would tell us he would need to slim down, get his hair cut shorter, shave off his beard, and wear nicer clothes.  But I know my wife always prefers me to wear jeans, t-shirt, and a ball cap, and she never notices or cares whether I have a beard or not.  There’s really no official way for a schlub or average Joe to gain “handsomeness” or “sexiness” since that’s up to the girl they’re trying to attract.

The more colorful and eye-catching cockatiel bird is on the right. The female is on the left.

And I think that’s why it’s a guy thing to not care as much about our appearance as females do.  Because unlike male birds (which are always more attractive and attention-grabbing than the females they attract), male humans know they can attract a woman who is out of their league looks-wise as long as they are funny enough, smart enough, rich enough, strong enough, sensitive enough, or whatever else it takes to charm their love interest.  From Doug Heffernan to Barney Rubble, charm certainly has its advantages.

Hey Jealousy (A Retrospective Look Back at Grunge and Alternative Rock Music)

I’m gonna say it.  Despite the cliché, because it’s true: Music today just ain’t what it used to be.

I was born in 1981.  Junior high for me was 1993 to 1995.  High school was from 1995 to 1999.  And I say in all confidence that compared to the current generic decency of Nickelback and the outright douchebaggery of bands like Godsmack and Buckcherry, my generation of rock music was far superior.

Not that I have anything against the stuff they play on Jack FM (Phil Collins, Eddie Money, The Police, etc.) or my parents’ music (The Beatles, The Eagles, The Grateful Dead, Creedence Clearwater Revival, etc.) because I’m a huge classic music fan.  Just as I’m a Movie Guy, I’m absolutely a Music Guy as well.

I get it.  Every music lover out there seems to hold a warm place in their heart for the music that was popular when they were a teenager.  Here I am doing the same thing; I’m no different.  Those bands and songs are all attached to places, people, and stories from a time where I was “discovering who I was”.  Grunge and alternative rock makes up the soundtrack of my teenage years.

I clearly remember in 8th grade, after school getting off the bus several blocks too soon to visit the local music store (that coincidently was only open that year and the following year, when alternative music ruled the music scene) to purchase the groundbreaking Green Day album, Dookie (at the time, I was still buying cassettes, not CD’s).  From Janis Joplin to Santana to Dinosaur Jr. to Blind Melon, they had it all in stock.  Along with several racks of appropriate signs-of-the-times jewelry including, but not limited to, clay “shroom” necklaces.

What I remember most about that music store isn’t the name, being that I have no clue what it was called, but the smell.  Incense.  A sweeter smell than patchouli.  I can’t help but assume that the constantly burning incense had something to do with the store owners covering up a different smoke smell of their own.

When I hear “Ironic” or “Hand in My Pocket” or “You Learn” by Alanis Morissette, or “Today” by The Smashing Pumpkins (which I would have to declare as the official song of my teenage years), an emotional spark ignites in my brain, causing me to simultaneously travel back to 1995 and feel a rush of euphoria.

So maybe what exactly constitutes as grunge or alternative is a bit blurry.  Typically, the lyrics are abstract, weird, and sometimes bit creepy.  The guitars are layered with both “staticky” and “crystallized” effects.  Whatever it was and is, it makes me happy.  Long live grunge and alternative!

Since I released my top 25 favorite movies this week (Movie Guy, at Your Service: My Top Ten Favorites), I might as well attempt to release my top twenty favorite bands of the grunge and alternative rock era.  Yes, it is controversial, but on my list, Nirvana is not present.  Like Soundgarden, they were too depressing for me.  I’m judging these by their relevance of grunge and alternative music in my personal life.  This is not a list of my favorite bands of all time- that’s a different list altogether.

My Top Twenty Favorite Bands of the Grunge and Alternative Rock Era

1)     Smashing Pumpkins

2)     Oasis

3)     Green Day

4)     Third Eye Blind

5)     Live

6)     The Wallflowers

7)     Alanis Morissette

8)     R.E.M.

9)     Bush

10) Gin Blossoms

11) Counting Crows

12) The Cranberries

13) Matchbox Twenty

14) Weezer

15) Collective Soul

16) Red Hot Chili Peppers

17) Foo Fighters

18) Everclear

19) Pearl Jam

20) Better Than Ezra

Do you want to share your list with me?  Then do it!

Me in 1995, AKA "The Grunge Days"