mr. bennigan mr. bennigan was the spitting image of santa claus, except that's basically where the comparison ends. he taught 9th grade world geography. or at least he tried to. it's hard to teach a bunch of half-wit, half-present, half-sober, 9th grade losers anything, much less how to find america on a map. he was also a perv, so he must've been awfully distracted most of the time. as far as i know, he never tried anything on any of us, but there are some people whose rap sheet you don't really need in hard copy. you do not want to get on mr. bennigan's lap and tell him what you want for christmas. you would get about as far as, "i would like..." and he would have licked your face. so forget your christmas list.
he had a white beard, and a big belly and when he laughed it was like a bowl full of smelly!
among other things, mr. b didn't like the word "present". said it was too pompous and made us sound like a bunch of little redneck lord fauntleroys. why couldn't we just say "here" like normal people? he told a pretty sensitive kid who took a chance on saying present that he was too dumb to be present. the kid got kinda sad and i guess we did too, but i never figured out that joke until i was 23, so i figure that kid never ever figured it out. anyway, after that, not one person said "here" when he called the roll. we became a unified army against him. but he labored on! such resilience! staggering!
mr. bennigan tried to teach us about where countries were on the map, like france. it must have been hard for a guy to be able to fly up chimneys and travel all around the world in one night, but over the course of four long, excruciating months, we still couldn't find france. i wouldn't have blamed him if he had just started shooting at us. plus, some kid thought new hampshire and vermont were the same state. when he heard dumb shit like that, he would sigh really loudly and dramatically. i particularly didn't like that because santa wasn't supposed to roll his eyes at kids. but i figured he was pretty exasperated with us, and maybe a little hung over and broke to boot.
and we knew he wasn't married. that story was bullshit.
i believe now that he must have had a little something extra to get him through the day. i know we did, and we didn't even have bills to pay. you know, come to think of it, we had a lot in common with mr. bennigan: staying wasted on little to no money in the mid-1980's decade of debauchery, spending the majority of our time with (and being attracted to) a bunch of teenage half-wits, and trying not to get caught with a flask on school property. he would try to be smarter than us when it came to taking our stash, 'cause he wanted it, but sneaking up on us wasn't really his forte. like most public schools today, we were packed in there like sardines. so it was a real challenge to walk up an aisle of desks without disturbing the peace, even for us.
that was my intro to high school. austin, texas. before: Dell, "Clerks", shamrock highway exchanges, & the Wilson brothers. my only regret is that i did not attend UT for just one year and meet owen wilson before he struck it big and turned into charlie sheen.
but i liked him (mr. bennigan; i've given up on owen wilson). i liked him because his fucked-up-ness was transparent. for instance, he squeezed himself into this teeny tiny vw rabbit. some of the kids pointed it out to me one time, and i didn't believe that was his car. so one day after school, i hung out and waited. sure enough -- there he was shoving himself into his car like a balloon through a straw, which took about 20 minutes. i felt like i was watching a special half hour episode of mutual of omaha or ripley's believe it or not. and his car had about 12 antennae on top of it. barely street legal, i'm sure, but he could always spot his car at the mall. boy howdy was he a CB freak. so was one of my friends, but she only needed one antenna to pick up basically everyone in town, so i don't know who mr. bennigan was talking to. maybe some of those far away countries he was trying to teach us? or mrs. claus? years later, when i heard about the "jaws of life" and found out that they were real and freed people stuck in their cars, i thought of mr. bennigan right off the bat.
i got an A in world geography. queen of the ding dongs!
that's because when we got a handout, i fought my way through my flask of freshman fog and gave naming countries that ol' community college try. plus, he never tested on hard stuff like dubai or united arab emirates or cambodia. he usually stuck to the G7. like spain. you know, countries who languages you'd learn just to say, "i don't speak [INSERT LANGUAGE]".
yo no hablo espanol baby.
je ne parle pas francais.
speak english motherfuckers!
our country may be dumber than shit, but one thing we have managed to do is force the rest of the world to speak english, and i think that's a real triumph. as long as we can keep that up, we won't ever need world geography (or the french).