First, you ought to have a better idea of what Mr. Schulz was like. If memory serves me correctly, he was fashionably stuck in the later 60’s, or maybe the early to mid-70’s. He certainly didn’t go beyond that. He typically wore snug, horizontally striped, often polo-style shirts, the color schemes of which were reminiscent of the palettes donned by the lesser aesthetic football teams, such as the Green Bay Packers or Cleveland Browns. His hair probably qualified as a flattop, and he wore horn-rimmed glasses. A thick, creamy string of spit generally flapped between his lips as he talked, somehow refusing to break and managing to last the entire year. (My older sister, three years ahead of me in school, was subjected to the very same strand of spit!) Mr. Schulz was fond of forcing his students to chant mantras such as “Do it! Do it right! Do it right now!” or to respond to his “Get it?” with “Got it” so he could say “Good.” He prided himself on his ability to outrun any one of us, the fact that we were half his height and one-fourth his age making no difference to him whatsoever. He had a reputation for picking his nose, and was generally referred to by students as “Mr. Pic-n-Save.”
The foremost Schulzian memory in mind is the day I left school with a couple of friends and walked past a fight that was just beginning to brew on the playground. A couple of kids were yelling at each other, and it may be that they even started hitting each other. I don’t remember distinctly. What I do remember very distinctly is Mr. Schulz exploding out of the school in a rage. I’m sure he must have stopped the fight, but that doesn’t even stand out to me. My memory is too caught up in what he did to me, the student minding his own business. (Apparently that was the problem.) Mr. Schulz chided my friends and me for not actively seeking to put an end to the fight that was taking place. In fact, he made us go back into his classroom and read a construction paper sign he had hanging on his classroom wall. Little did I know at the time, but what he had me read was Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” This was public school, mind you, and while I was too young to think much about the inappropriateness of reprimanding a child by making him read scripture, I felt violated that I had been punished for avoiding a violent situation. This memory has forever bothered me.
The reason I am bringing up Mr. Schulz today is that, a couple of nights ago, I had the unpleasant misfortune of dreaming about him. I actually had a dream about him once back in elementary school. I dreamed that he put my sister and me in a cage, and he wasn’t going to let us out until one of us was dead. One of us had to kill the other before either of us would be released. Well, the dream from a couple of nights ago was also a violent one. I dreamed that, for whatever reason, I was in his classroom, organizing some papers in the back corner. I wasn’t part of his class, but I was there for whatever reason. At some point, he said something like, “What are you doing, girl?” and in my head, I had a suspicion that he was talking to me. I wasn’t looking his way, however, and so I ignored it. Then one of his students said, “Ben!” to get my attention and let me know that Mr. Schulz had been addressing me. I turned around and said, “Oh, that’s very funny. Ha ha ha. Hey, Mr. Schulz, do you have a vagina? Did your penis fall off?” as I approached him. I then proceeded to beat him mercilessly, including slamming his head multiple times into the chalkboard.
It’s strange how people, places, and things show up in your dreams so long after they’ve disappeared from your life.