#914: The Bad Batch

RECORD STORE TALES #914 The Bad Batch

Mrs. Powers used to say to us, “You are the worst class I have ever taught!”  She was good at the guilt thing.  I understand that she continued to tell subsequent generations that they too were the worst class she has ever taught.  With the benefit of hindsight, she was the worst teacher we ever had.

I had her two years in a row.  Grades seven and eight.  We were the worst class she had ever taught both years.  Coincidentally, also the worst two years of grade school.  A couple years later, my sister had her.  She was still guilting and shaming the students when my sister had her.  She was the epitome of old lady Catholic school teacher clichés.

We were not particularly worse than any other class.  We had our bad apples, that the teachers didn’t seem to know how to contain.  My time with Powers coincided with my discover of heavy metal music:  Kiss, Priest, Maiden.  Wearing my Judas Priest shirt to school was one of the biggest mistakes I made in the 8th grade.  Powers gave me a good scolding in front of everyone else, who found it hilarious.  She must have thought I was going bad too.  I will always resent Powers for teaming me up with my nemesis Steve Hartman in gym class.  The guy had been picking on me since grade two, and she thought we’d get over it by doing gymnastics together?  The fact that I even had to touch the guy was disgusting to me.  Why did she have to do that?  Isn’t that borderline abusive?

In the 8th grade I had enough with Hartman and fought him one night after school.  He brought friends; my only backup was Kevin Kirby.  He was just there to enjoy the show, he didn’t care who won.  But I managed to get Steve Hartman to leave me alone for the year after that night.  That was pretty much it for his career in bullying; he never had a comeback though not without trying.

Kiss really did a lot to get me through the Powers years.  My year of discovery for Kiss was 1985, the Asylum period.  Not the greatest entry point, but I quickly found myself drawn to better albums like Hotter Than Hell and Creatures of the Night.  It was Mrs. Powers who presided over the school retreat to Mount Mary.  Possibly the loneliest week of my entire childhood as I bunked with every kid who ever tormented me.  But we had to go; Powers scared everyone in class by telling us that any student she had that skipped the Mount Mary retreat ended up “dead or on drugs”.   Bringing your own music was forbidden, so I memorized as much Kiss music as I could, to replay in my head when the going got rough.

Sex-ed was a joke of course.  I remember the usual school films with animated cells dividing, and sketches of genitalia.  The more we learned the less we knew.  But at least we got to sit there watching a movie, so the teacher didn’t have to explain anything herself.  Rock Hudson died of AIDS that fall, but none of us knew exactly what AIDS was.  She asked us if we knew.  One kid answered, “It makes you get old and die.”  She responded, “Well, it makes you look old, yes.”  We learned that much, and that you could get it from a blood infection.  That’s what we learned.  Can’t give this bad batch of kids too much graphic information.

Do you want to know the truth?  Maybe Powers was right.  Maybe our year really was the worst batch of kids she’d ever taught.  Some of them, at least.  Our only consolation was that she if she thought we were bad, she was going to find future generations were worse.  If she thought I was heading down the wrong path with Kiss and Judas Priest, I wonder what she thought of Marilyn Manson or rap!  She thought we were bad?  The 90s were still to come!

One thing that struck me from that time that will always remain is this.  Our family did not go to church much, but frequency in church visits didn’t seem to correlate to how good of a person you were.  My sister and I were good kids.  Some of these other kids that went to church every week were real assholes.  Just an observation.

I hope that Powers did end up with worse classes than us.  She deserved it.

37 comments

  1. I also went to catholic school back in Ireland and this story really speaks to me. I had equivalent teachers, who think you’re the antichrist for liking different music and not being visibly pious, but I actually lived like a christian (being kind and nice to people, not being an asshole) and the super christians who said I was going to hell for listening to Marilyn Manson, Iron Maiden and Slipknot and for not making a song and dance of my catholicism like they did, really didn’t act like christians (too busy bullying, judging, casting the first stone, not turning the other cheek etc).

    I didn’t start high school until 2000. It seems things don’t change. If its any consolation, I guess she probably did have a worse class.

    Ps. Never had a personal connection to the lyrics to Hot For Teacher. Thanks a lot Catholic School!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In my experience most hot teachers can be found in elementary school. Unfortunate, because when you’re that young you can’t really appreciate them.

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    2. I had a super Christian get upset about the Slaughter song Fly to the Angels.

      First of all he had Slaughter confused with Slayer.

      Second of all, we told him the song was about someone dying and going to heaven — that’s what the angels are about.

      He said “No, it’s Satanic, they are talking about fallen angels.”

      He never even heard the song. Just confused Slaughter with Slayer and ran with it.

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  2. Mrs. Powers scolding you for wearing a Priest shirt reminded me of the Dreamer Deceiver Judas Priest film. I’m sorry you went through such a difficult time with that teacher, but at least you had music to ease your sorrows. By the way, it seems wrong that Mrs, Powers made you bunk with your tormenters for that retreat.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. Oh yeah. My sister wasn’t that good at math, so that means the teachers compared her to me. “Why aren’t you as good at math as your brother?” She did not like that!

          Liked by 1 person

    1. No she made me partner up with him in gymnastics.

      We all bunked together at the retreat, it was a boarding school. All the boys in one room, all the girls in another on the second floor.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I grew up Catholic, but never went to Catholic school, but from what I have heard over the years is that it is not a pleasant experience, at least back in those days. And I also don’t think Church has anything to do with how good a person is as I find the people that go to church are usually the biggest hypocrites around, but that is a conversation for another time.

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  4. I’ve been lucky. Most of my teachers were fair, decent, or cool. I can only think of a few exceptions. My 5th grade teacher had an unjustified hatred for me, so much so that even my parents took my side (they never did, usually for good reason). I was a bit of a shit in elementary school, but not to the degree she targeted me. I think by the end of the year she gave up on me, because I stopped trying at all to hide my contempt for her and she didn’t even react to the socially unacceptable things I said about her.

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  5. Never went to catholic school, but we had our own share of bad teachers and bullies that got me into trouble. One time, in grade 4 I was sitting next to my bully in class, who tried to cheat off of my test. She whispered, “Sarah… Sarah! What’s the answer?” I whispered to her to be quiet. She persisted, and I raised my voice and told her to “BE QUIET!” Of course, I got into trouble. I was accused of cheating. Teachers were always so clueless to what was really happening. I had my desk moved away from the bully, which only made things worse for me. I hated elementary school…

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        1. Elementary school was the worst! So many dumb rules, the teachers pick favorites, they never give you the benefit of the doubt, and every move you make needs permission.

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  6. Excellent observation about the lack of correlation between church attendance & being a good person, Mike. It’s one thing to attend once a week but it’s much more work (and much more important) to be a good person around the clock.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is an interesting conversation because my sister and I were discussing how churchgoers are very often not spiritual people and some of the worst crooks are churchgoers. I can give you examples!
    As far as teachers being clueless, I had the same experience as Sarah. I was penalized ten points on a test when the girl beside me was asking me for an answer. Of course I didn’t speak up and neither did she. The teacher didn’t deduct the ten points until another kid in the class mentioned it when the marked tests were returned. What an asshole!

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  8. My parents still go to church but I give them full credit as when I was 12 as you know they took me to see KISS as you know and they never bought into any of the devil worship silliness that was going around at the time (late 70s early 80s)
    Bottom line Is there are assholes everywhere….
    When I was on the highschool basketball team I remember going to play at a catabolic school and it was a culture shock as seeing Nuns around and making sure you walked on the proper side of the hallways..
    We were idiots and disobeyed and walked around everywhere and the end result was outrBasketball coach the net day made us run miles for the disrespect. lol

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Bad teachers are the worst. I got fairly lucky and only had a couple, but that was in high school. There was an ‘old school’ feel to them (and I was an early 90s high school kid). Glad you sorted out the bully. That stuff’s awful. People look back on school as halcyon days and I think that’s nuts. As for correlation betwen church attendance and being good people, in my experience it seems sometimes that the more someone attends church, the more pious and righteous they think they are, the more divisive, elitist and horrible they actually are as humans.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep I sorted out that bully. I’ll never forget it. I was alone, he had like three friends. I kicked the crap out of him and told him he was a loser and that’s all he’d ever be. I biked away and left him behind. The next day at school one of the kids said “What you said about him being a loser and always will be…I think you were right.” And he left me alone that year. And then he was powerless.

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  10. The only real bullying I received in high school didn’t happen in school. It was at my church youth group. One kid, who was only there because his parents made him was the bully. However, many religious organizations bury their head in the sand when it comes to this. But the music is a great way to help you though it.

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