The Gull Reef Club


No Bounds

Filed under: — Jaime @ 10:25 pm

My last entry reminded me of a minor act of educational disobedience I committed my sophomore year in high school. I thought I was so incredibly smart at the time.

The required reading for that year’s Honors English class included John Knowles’ A Separate Peace. The main lessons were carpe diem (of course) and non-conformity. After finishing the novel, our teacher asked us to write an essay on conformity/non-conformity. Being obnoxious, while believing I was clever, I opted to skip the essay and write a poem instead. My reasoning? What could be more non-conformist than intentionally ignoring the teacher’s instructions while still giving him what he wanted? Two pages, typed, double-spaced.

I handed in the paper with consummate smugness. If I passed, cool. If I failed, my cynicism toward the ability of a haughty-public-school English teacher trying to teach non-conformity would be overly justified.

Mr. Bounds posted our grades on a list hanging in the class room. Our grades were tied to our student ID numbers and not our names, but in Honors English we all knew who was who. And there I had it – a big fat glaring red F next to my number. I was pissed yet soaring. Aha! This sealed everything I tried to prove by writing a poem instead of an essay in the first place. However, there was an asterisk next to my F. At the bottom of the grades list, I saw the asterisk had an instruction to ‘See Me’ to discuss my grade.

Great. Now I’d have to try and defend what I thought was so obvious to this dinosaur of an English instructor.

Face to face with Mr. Bounds, his scary intense blue eyes and waxy bald head were distracting beyond imagination. He did not waste any time with me and asked me straight up why I wrote a poem instead of following his instructions. I asked him if he really didn’t see how what I did was glaringly obvious. His scary face broke into an even scarier smile, which was an attempt to be friendly. Of course he saw what I was up to. He then advised me that I was not going to receive an F, but rather an A. He then pulled out his grade book and showed me in person, my big red A. He then told me that this was between him and me and that if I told any one he would change it to a real F. He didn’t want copycatters, would have ruined the fun for both of us.

I guess it’s OK I tell you beachcombers this now. I don’t think Mr. Bounds can retract my A at this point. I honestly don’t even know if the man is still alive. I really didn’t like him much sophomore year, but aging can be so fine in so many ways. I relish what I did and I relish even more that Mr. Bounds ‘got it.’ Cheers to you, Mr. Bounds, wherever you are.

7 Responses to “No Bounds”

  1. Gina says:

    I hope you understand that as a result of reading this not only did I immediately form a perfect picture in my head of his scary smile, but, having been on the receiving end of said smile, I will surely suffer nightmares as a result. That said, I do remember a certain reluctant respect that eventually grew between Mr. Bounds & myself, so he earns kudos from me, too. Thanks for the memories, Jaime.

  2. Jaime says:

    Sorry for any nightmares, Gina! Glad I could stir up a few memories, though. Too bad neither one of us kept any of the ‘notebooks’ – that would stir up some memories, mwahaha!

  3. Gina says:

    I believe I left all the notebooks in your possession, my friend. Could you imagine reading them now??? Now that would be entertainment!

  4. Frank says:

    I was in that class. I remember it was right around that time that I started wearing ties as belts, ah la A Separate Peace. Anyway, Mr. Bounds only lives a few blocks from my parents. I can check on his “aliveness” if you want. I didn’t hate Mr. Bounds with the same passion that I hated Mrs. Warning in junior year. I do remember loving and hating the comma rules. Wish I could find those again. I found out from Mrs. Warning in Junior year that Mr. Bounds warned her about me and I was behind “the 8 ball” (her words, not mine) from day one. I guess that just makes me glad that I made her cry in class on a regular basis.


  5. Jaime says:

    Yes, Frank, please do update me on his aliveness. Now that I’m over 21, I’m eligible to be his friend, right?

    Funny you should comment today. I had a dream last night that involved me being back in a high school English class and all of us geeks were there – me, you, Jonathan L. George L., Megan T., Nora P.(you know, people, besides you & Jon. L., that I haven’t thought of in years). We were being belittled by a really self-righteous teacher for really stupid reasons. I told her off, stormed out of class, and everyone was so proud of me. Nice be the hero in my own dreams. /glavin.

  6. Adam Prince says:

    That’s very cool, Jaime. I loved Mr. Bounds. He made me pass his class. I was doomed to fail, but he pulled me aside and told me he would not accept my failing his class. I also borrowed a Janes Addiction album off of him, and saw him at one of the concerts.

  7. Jaime says:

    Adam! Thanks for stopping by. Was it you who told me that story about Mr. Bounds having a friend die of a heroin overdose right in his arms? Sheesh, such memories. But it is true that I can’t listen to Jane’s without thinking of Mr. Bounds.

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