I will never forget the day Mr. Blackstone, my seventh grade math teacher, did the unthinkable.
For some reason I decided that I wanted to be different in the seventh grade. Before that year, I was a fairly pliable, respectful kid. I followed the rules, did my school work and got along with my teachers. In seventh grade, however, I wanted to be different; I wanted to be cool! And Tony, one of the coolest kids I knew, sat in the back of the room in math class making jokes. Guess where I sat! In addition to my lack of attention, we were conquering some kind of "new math." (Sidebar: it seems as if math gets reinvented to "new math" every couple of years. Maybe it's to see if seventh graders are paying attention.) Very quickly, my math tests shrunk almost to the failing range. So here I was, being cool with Tony and a few others, cracking jokes, and failing. That's when Mr. Blackstone did the unthinkable.
Mr. Blackstone wasn't just a young teacher back then; he had joined the church we attended and got involved there. Consequently, he knew my parents. He also had figured me out, knowing that I was sacrificing seventh-grade math on the altar of being cool. So he drove to the Ford garage one day and found my dad. He told my dad what was going on. Dad confronted me that night and -- suddenly -- I decided it might behoove me to lose my "cool" and start studying. I barely passed my first grading period, but caught up with the class and did well the rest of the year...
...because Mr. Blackstone did the unthinkable.