Oct 29, 2009

The Year Nine Incident

I know a few teachers, and teachers-in-training. It seems to be a truth universally acknowledged that Year Nine students are the Worst People in the World. The way teachers talk, Year Nine students sound about as evil as low-level dictators, but without the charm.

It's a sad thing for me to hear personally, because for me, Year Nine was an unparallelled year of academic and creative achievement. I scored a tiny speaking role as a maid in our school musical, The Three Musketeers (Milady deWinter backslapped me across the face), and I became, wait for it...

...Dux of Year Nine. That's right - at age 14, yours truly was an academic superstar. Very High Achievements in every subject - including maths and science. And boy, did that never happen again. Wound up failing Maths B by a touch in Year 12. Annoyed Mr McNaught by scribbling pictures on my final exam instead of answers. Because I'd given up by then. But have I ever needed to conjugate cosigns or trigger my nometries again, Mr McNaught? NO I HAVEN'T.

Yes, my maths teacher was named Mr McNaught.

Anyway, my achievements would indicate to me that I was a decent Year Nine student. Possibly a super-nerd. Very likely a super-nerd, really. But I'm starting to think my Dux tag was possible not because my early-teenage-years mecha-intelligence, but because of a total lack of interest from boys and a far too serious collection of books about serial killers and the JFK assassination.

I think everyone else may have just been slacking off.

However, I do recall one incident in Year Nine that qualified me as Teen Shitebag. At least in my own estimation, being in possession of the world's most overactive guilt complex. I hated getting in trouble. I avoided it at all costs. Still do.

But in trouble I got, in Mrs Crombie's English class. I'd like to point out though - it was all David Nelson's fault.

Mrs Crombie was an elder stateswoman at the school. She favoured wearing colourful cotton muu-muus, precisely cut to show off the awesome meat curtain that dangled from her upper arms. It was so thick every time she reached for a textbook she covered half the whiteboard.

David Nelson was the "bad boy" of my year. He was an idiot. Looking back, he probably had ADHD, if you believe in those types of conditions. Those who don't would simply say he hadn't had enough beatings as a child. He was one of those kids who just radiated energy, too much energy for his skinny frame. He also drank far too much Coca-Cola, so I suppose sugar overdose contributed.

He was rude, rebellious, fairly unattractive and used to copy my work. But for some reasons, I wound up enjoying sitting next to him in Year Nine classes. I think it was because he was funny; and he honestly didn't care what people thought of him. He got poor marks, frequent detentions, and crap from both teachers and fellow students.  My little Hermione Granger self always did well in tests, answered questions, and cried if anyone ever said a nasty thing about me. I cared so much about being liked; and could only admire David Nelson's brash rejection of anything

Let's not romanticise him too much though: he would have been an absolute SHIT to teach. David would laugh and giggle his way through English, never read the books or do the homework. I did feel sorry for Mrs Crombie.

The incident occured one warm spring day, in a lesson not long before lunch. David Nelson passed me a note, that read, mystifyingly:


I believe I recall the mispelling accurately. It's unlikely David Nelson had a firm grasp of apostrophe use.

I didn't really understand what he meant by this scribbed missive, but I giggled.

I tore off a corner of paper from my notebook, and compose an elegant response:


Now I don't know what I meant by that. I really can't explain. Certainly, I'd like to think I'm slightly more sophisticated with my punning these days. But back then, on the fly, before the 10 years of improvised comedy experience, that was the best I could come up with.

But disaster struck.

Mrs Crombie saw me pass the note to David Nelson. She stormed over - well, waddled over - and grabbed the piece of paper out of David's hands before he could hide it.

She opened it. Her face furrowed. Her eyes blackened. She looked up at us.

"Who wrote this?"

I believe my face gave it away. David Nelson offered nothing in the way of gallantry; after all, he was in detention virtually every other afternoon so it must of been a novel experience to watch someone else get in trouble.

"Natalie." she said flatly. "I never expected something like this from you."

Then she raised her arm, forming a level at her eyeline. "You have just gone from this..."

She jerked her hand downwards, bringing the "level" closer to her stomach. The meat curtain trembled.

"...to this."

My eyes filled with tears, and I put my head down, attempting to hide my scarlet face.

David Nelson, needless to say, was highly amused by the whole incident.

I believe I received another stern talking to from Mrs Crombie once class finished, then spent lunch crying.

Good times.

Anyone else have a good Year Nine ShiteBag story?


  1. Would it be worse to be a tit in a poo bag, or a poo in a bra?

  2. I believe the disturbing and too familiar image of teacher arms with trembling meat curtains has effectively removed any recollection I might have of year nine.

  3. I was an exemplary student all the way through school, but as a collective our year 9 cohort caused two teachers to take psychiatric leave, and another to abandon his teaching career all-together.

  4. I had an art teacher called Mrs Artuso.

    Our horror year was easily year 7 (first year high school in Vic), rather than year 9. That year, we banded together to terrify our history teacher, who looked like a pidgeon and couldn't control a group of 12-13 year olds.

    It's my understanding that by the end of year 9 (I had left in first term to move to QLD, and into year 10), that our year put that energy into hating each other.

  5. I think Tyler Durden says it best...

    "Listen up maggots. You are not special. You are not a unique or beautiful snowflake. You're the same decaying organic matter as everything else"

    "You are the all singing, all dancing crap of the world"

  6. I can honestly say I have no clear recollection of year 9

    I think you showed admiriable restraint by not calling on your legion of blog space followers to bring you the head of Mrs Crombie

  7. Like you I was the goody goody in school. I only ever got into trouble ONCE, and it upset me so much I was never game to misbehave again.

    In year 8 (VIC - 2nd year high school) somehow my netball team came up with the idea that we could get away with bringing alcohol to school. Needless to say we DID NOT (get away with it I mean).

    Luckily, because of my prviously spotless record, I pretty much got away with it! Apparently I was easily led. And luckily because if I'd been suspended, no way would I be alive to tell the tale! I was the only one NOT suspended. That made me popular I can tell you! Ironic, as I only went along with it so I wouldn't be ostracised by the popular girls.

  8. In English in year nine, we had a poor teacher we disliked with a passion. He was weak, and we as teenagers could sense that. Over the course of the year it went from a simple dislike, to the whole class sitting around and throwing little pieces of paper at him (bonus points if you hit his bald spot) while he looked bored out the window.

    We broke him.

    It was such a gradual slide that I didn't even noitce it was happening till one day I realised that we hadn't done any work in 2 weeks, and my friend was being chased around the classroom by another guy with a pair of scissors.

    We spent our time constructively of course. Talking to girls we would never have a chance of going out with. By "we" I of course mean that's what my friends did, as I sat there and wished I'd had a spine. I'm actually quite a shy person - seriously.

    It's taken a lot of effort, and a Contiki tour, to make me the almost-socially-functioning human being you see before you (or don't considering this is the internet). Though it does explain why I can act a little over the top with people I don't know very well, because putting on an 'act' is better then sitting their in silence and being boring.

    I'm not sure why this has become an exploration of my soul, but I blame your wiley journalistic skills and shall depart before I reveal my intimate desires for delicious pancakes.

  9. Thanks all for your comments!

    Ysambart - meat curtains! Batwings! Tuckshop lady arms! None of these images are good. Remind me again I really need to take up weights.

    Frazicus - Mrs Artuso!!! That's gold.

    Barnes - nice of you to say I have a legion. Feel like Caesar now. Also, I didn't mind Mrs Crombie really. And anyway, if you cut the head off, three would grow back in its place.

    Mayhem - ahh yes. Trying to fit it, only to wind up on the outs with everyone. I remember a fair bit of that.

    Doyle - I demand you expose more of your soul. Start exposing!!! (your soul, that is. You can keep everything else covered).

  10. GC - take up weights. If you don't sweat for at least three hours a week, you are slack.

    I do remember that we broke a student teacher or seven. My favourite was Jesus. He looked like Jesus. He had a complicated real name. We forgot it instantly and just called him "Jesus" He didn't cope.

  11. The judge told me if I exposed myself again, he'd be forced to send me away.

    I'm assuming he didn't mean my soul, but you never know.

  12. Year Nine? That was freshman year in high school here. 1980-81. No. Nothing good-except not getting stuffed in my own locker or getting a swirlie in the bathroom. A lot of running in Phys Ed. A lot of running. A few of us caught hell for singing 'colorful' cadences during said runs.

    They brought in a guy our freshman year to do our sex education lecture. His name was Dr. Short. No kidding.

  13. I can relate to this like you wouldn't believe. I was a smart cookie and all-round good girl in primary school too. But that's not to say I had my moments. I got in trouble passing notes too, in Year 5. Unfortunately for me, the contents of the note were "Guess what Sarah? I went to the coast on the weekend and I saw some guy getting changed in the window and I saw his bum!!!!!" My Year 5 teacher gave me quite a scolding and implied that I was some bizarre perverted child. The best days of our lives, right?

  14. We locked our teacher in their room and put glue on the door handle. He pushed it so hard just as we opened it and it sprained his arm. He tried to grab one student whom he believed was the lone doorman and almost hit him. He left the school about 6 months later. Grade 9 was brutal.