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Chapter 4: Tim

I walked into Randy's Latin class, the first stop of the night. I looked down at the schedule Randy had given me. Seven different teachers I had to met all in the space of two or three hours. I think the only thing worse may very well have been dinner at Helen Manchester's house.

On the desk were name tags. I screamed to myself. You can tell which teachers will be the most difficult to deal with.

'Hello, my name is:' the top of the name tag read. Well that was easy enough.

I wrote with a blue pen that was lying on the desk 'Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor.' I admired my handiwork. Beautiful handwriting Tim. Hmmm...another blank.

'and I am.....(state your profession here)'

Oh, boy. I'm not sure I want to meet this lady. Well, we've already established that I'm The Tool Man....grunt grunt why not have a little fun. I always was the cut up in school so why not?

'Hello, my name is Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor and I am.......'

'Hooked on phonics,' I wrote and I chuckled a little bit. I slapped the sucker on my shirt pocket and grinned. I wasn't unanimously voted Class Clown in high school for nothing.

I walked around a little bit. Randy had already told me how things would work. I would go to all his classes in order. The teacher would briefly tell all the parents what they were learning in class, what was expected of them, blah, blah, blah. Then she'd call each parent up to her desk and have a brief conference with them while the other parents walked around, or in my case, performed various deeds of mayhem. All in all, it would be a boring night.

I found an empty desk in the very back of the room, my kingdom all through high school. I used to own the back of the room. I'd hang out with all the other kids like me who just didn't give a damn about school. It was great. I stretched my feet out a little and checked for any interesting graffiti on the desks. Well one thing certainly hadn't changed. A giant heart with the initials R.T. plus M.S. inside them. I wonder if that stood for Randy Taylor and Mary Sullivan. I smiled and wondered which one of them would've carved it into the desk. Maybe Randy. The lines were clean and smooth, made by somebody with tool dexterity and too many brains to care what was going on in class.

The teacher, Mrs. Lantham stood in front of the class and started babbling about something. Most of the parents sat listening attentively, sometimes smiling and nodding. I was about ready to nod off to sleep. The other back row parents shared my feelings. Some guy with stringy hair was drawing a monster truck on his forearm. My kind of guy.

Pretty soon I'm called up to her desk for the private conference. The stringy haired guy whispered a 'good luck' as I got out of my seat. Perhaps he was familiar with this teacher.

I sat down at the seat in front of Mrs. Lantham's desk. I knew what to expect. Those teachers who didn't rant and rave about Randy's intelligence usually said he didn't take anything seriously, he made jokes at inappropriate times, and he distracted others. Nothing big.

"Ah, Mr. Taylor." Mrs. Lantham read my name tag and frowned. "I can see where Randy gets his colorful sense of humor."

I almost popped a vein trying not to laugh.

"Yes," I said in a fake intellectual voice. "Well, I've encourage my son to express himself by way of humor." I waved my hands around a little for good measure. "I feel it gives him the chance to express himself, to be who he is, a wonderful individual and one heck of a kid." I smiled.

Mrs. Lantham didn't.

"I don't find his sarcasm funny. I am a teacher. I have to teach twenty-four other students other than your son. I realize Randy is a gifted individual. His work in my class is above average. However, his antics distract other classmates from their work. Furthermore, Randy seems to have trouble paying attention in class."

"Huh?" I asked. "I'm sorry. I didn't catch that last part." I grinned sheepishly. I've always had trouble listening to teachers.

Mrs. Lantham looked exasperated.

"I have nothing more to say. Go ahead and look around."

I smiled slyly. "It was nice meeting you Mrs. Lantham. Have a great day."

I walked away before I could hear her response. I smiled at the stringy haired guy as I plopped back down in my seat.

"I've still got my charm at least," I said with a grin.

The stringy haired guy gave me the thumbs up sign. I smiled. Maybe the night wouldn't be so boring after all.


Math was the second place I had to go. Mr. Peters turned out to be a tall bearded guy who looked a little like Jesus. I instantly liked him. Though I took a seat in the back of the room again and was prepared to tune him out, he actually said some interesting things. Besides, my stringy haired pal was right beside me in case things ever turned boring, which it did, as soon as he called the first parent up to his desk.

I looked around the room. An entire side wall was covered in pictures, song lyrics, pins, drawings, things like that. It was pretty cool. I saw a picture of Randy up there and smiled. I read some of the lyrics. Nirvana, Randy's favorite band was among some of the things posted. I was liking this Mr. Peters guy more and more.

"Mr. Taylor?"

My turn. I got up, prying my eyes from the wall and settled down in a desk right in front of Mr. Peters. The other parents stood in front of the wall, hypnotized by it's utter coolness.

"Randy's a great kid," Mr. Peters said, smiling. "I have no complaints. He's bright, friendly, polite, funny, and he seems to want to learn. I have a lot of respect for him."

I smiled. This would be an easy talk.

"That's good to hear," I said with a light grin.

"And it's nice to see he has a father who's very into literature." Mr. Peters grinned.

Huh? Oh. I was still wearing my Hooked on Phonics name tag.

"Well, you know what they say....Reading is fundamental."

Mr. Peters chuckled. "Look, I have no problems with Randy. But, uh, lately he's been a little tired out. This may be none of my business but I don't know that he gets enough sleep at night. Maybe all his honors classes are stressing him out?"

"Uh, yeah. My wife and I have noticed that. He's got a doctor's appointment and everything so...yeah...if there's anything...." I stopped, feeling like an idiot.

Mr. Peters smiled. "Okay. Just wanted to tell you. Really none of my business." I smiled. He smiled. Now I knew why Randy would rave about the guy.

That was it. I got up, sat in my seat until the bell rang again, then headed to his English class.


I opened the door of the house, dropped my keys on the counter and shrugged off my coat. Jill wouldn't be home for a few hours and the house was quiet. I popped open a beer and flicked on ESPN.

The rest of Parent's Night had run fairly smoothly, the only hitch coming when Randy's English teacher hit on me. That was a little creepy. Other than that, things were good. No real complaints, nothing. I was happy.

The basement door opened and closed and Randy shuffled into the living room, grabbing a bag of cookies and pouring himself a glass of milk on the way. He was wearing a bathrobe and looking tired but I didn't comment. It was around nine thirty anyway.

"Hey. How was Parent's Night?" Randy sat down on the couch beside me. I put my arm around his shoulders and grabbed a cookie from the bag.


Randy grunted and turned his attention to ESPN. We didn't talk much, but we didn't need to. It was a comfortable silence. Sometimes it's nice to just sit down next to somebody you love and not have to say anything. You just have to be there. I like that.

I pulled Randy in a little and kissed the side of his head. I wasn't usually so demonstrative- I usually stick to manly hugs- but for some reason it seemed like he needed more at the moment. He looked wiped.

I smiled, basking in the comfortable silence. We didn't have to say anything. It was nice.


End of Chapter 4.