Friday, September 17, 2010

My Childhood in the 1970s Part Eight: Weird Teachers

I finally discovered why Mrs. Perkins, that evidently inspired (like W Bush from a higher authority) yet uninspiring and mediocre Bible teacher I had in that year of Christian Junior High, singled me out for special attention concerning her new found love for character actor Joe Don Baker. It appears Joe Don Baker was in a movie with my very name in the title. It wasn't called Mitch a la STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, but it was called MITCHELL.

I am absolutely sure that my teacher, Mrs. Perkins, did not restrict her love of Baker to the cop show EISCHIED. No this was, after all, "our greatest living actor." She took that love to the theater. Her love, or lust, for Baker was so great she must have seen the following movie when it played at the local buck a movie "grindhouse" in Tampa. I am equally sure she did not mention this movie to me even with the happy coincidence that it had my name on it because it was an R RATED movie, thus strictly verboten.

Did Mrs. Perkins sneak off to see MITCHELL herself, the way her male colleagues at that time would sneak off to THE PRIVATE AFTERNOONS OF PAMELA MANN or the EMANUELLE series? Is this what critics mean by the concept of "guilty pleasure"?

The only reason I could have missed that movie was that, during its particular run for the week, my mother had put her foot down and prevented my father from taking us to enjoy it, all the more reason to avoid it in my mom's mind was that it had my name on it and she didn't want me getting any negative ideas. Perhaps she felt I would be "cursed".

Clearly Mrs. Perkins must have remembered she had her very own MITCHELL in her class: that "radical" Southern boy with the longish Robert Morse styled hair and polo shirts and classic cotton chinos who didn't take to The Bible with the enthusiasm she had hoped for, and was always talking about the EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT and how "not everything in The Bible was necessarily s0" (to quote Ira Gershwin. Musically, Mrs. Perkins' tastes ran more towards Merl Haggard and Waylon Jennings).

Her student Mitchell was bright but he was far too concerned with EARTH WIND AND FIRE and MILES DAVIS and BACH records and heaven knows what else. And besides, he didn't want the girls to only rake leaves. He called it "chauvinism". He wanted them playing sports too alongside the boys, when Mitchell didn't know a thing about sports himself and couldn't be less concerned with them. Why, when we were supposed to bow our heads in prayer for a winning season for the Tampa Bay Bucs, that Mitchell refused on grounds of something he called "freedom FROM religion."

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