Tuesday, March 13, 2007

March Madness

2007 NCAA Final Four in AtlantaOn the first day of the NCAA Tournament in the 11th grade I was at home, sitting on my ass in front of the TV. Even if I was healthy that day I wouldn’t have gone to school. It was right before the first tip-off and I was pumped as hell. I had my bracket in one hand, thinking I had the money picks. A bag of Cheetos were in the other hand. Suddenly my phone rang.


“Hey Ben, have the games started yet?”

“Is that you, PepperoniNip? Aren’t you in school?”

“Yeah, I’m just calling from journalism class.”

“They have a phone in there? Damn.”

I heard a voice in the background. It was my journalism teacher angrily asking PepperoniNip what the fuck he was doing, not in those words. “I’m just talking to Ben about basketball.”

“Oh, okay,” my teacher replied.

“Yeah, so they started yet?” he asked again.

“Nah, but they’re about to.”

“I’m going to call back in 30 minutes for score updates, so don’t go anywhere.”

It didn’t take me long to realize that people with cancer have the permission to do just about whatever they want. On the days I was at school I’d often leave class for short periods of time. Usually it was to go to the bathroom, but sometimes just because I was bored. I didn’t need teacher approval or a hall pass – I had a permanent one in my wallet.

That freedom carried over into my senior year, even though I no longer had cancer. Students always showed up late to my homeroom class, including me. In fact, I was late nearly every day, but Mr. Spunkmeyer never gave me shit about it. My friends would often follow me into class late and say, “I had to ride the elevator with Ben to help him carry his book bag.” Spunkmeyer knew they were full of shit.

There was one particular day that I actually needed help carrying my backpack, so I asked PepperoniNip if he’d do it. He agreed, and of course we were late. Spunkmeyer didn’t believe I asked for his help and marked him late. PepperoniNip went home and told his mom, so she emailed Mr. Spunkmeyer to complain. He responded, “PepperoniNip has already been tardy four times this grading period and it’s only the third week of school.”

I even abused my elevator privileges. After a fire drill one morning I let several of my classmates ride up with me. We were already way past the maximum weight limit when Fattypants started jumping up and down. The next day the elevator had an “Out of Order” sign. I had no problem taking the stairs, but the wheelchair students were fucked.

My cancer pass finally ran out at the end of the school year. After my four-millionth consecutive tardy, Spunkmeyer was beginning to get agitated. All you cancer patients out there listen up – you can only milk these things for so long. You have a lot of potential to fuck around; just play it smart.


My 2007 Final Four picks: Florida, Georgetown, Memphis, Kansas. Kansas over Georgetown for the championship.

But, my heart is with Go Wahoos.


mikster said...

March Madness is a perfectly acceptable reason in itself to miss....well....just about anything.

Ho-Train said...

Memphis? Hell Ben, you and I could win their conference with just about the same record they had. Ohio State would kill them and your team could handle them as well.

Anonymous said...

Well Done

J.Fig said...

I'm guessing this was Mr._____, who really didn't give a shit about anything. I remember going to every lunch period, citing I needed to do 'interviews.' He knew I was full of shit. I just wanted to chill and eat cause I was a fat kid. Good times.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ben! This is Ali (your Mom's friend) from Temple. Well done and very funny. You certainly have the best of both your parents in you!!

Just one little critique from an old phart...loose the "f" word, please and thank you!!!

Anonymous said...

benjamin eat your salmon and no cursing! fatty pants? nice

Betty J. Simmons said...

Can't wait for the book! I, also think you have earned the right to speak and write any way you choose after all you have been through. Good for you!!!!

Anonymous said...

Don't censor your art no matter what your critiques say! There'll be plenty more telling you to do just that...but plenty more praise as well. Hang in there and express your art freely! If some cant' hang with you...let them go read "Dr. Seuss." Like many of your other fans, I can't wait for the book to come out.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree that the 'f' word is getting a little old and corrupting a great writing style. It does add some punch when called for. Use it wisely.
I would still read your book however it is written as your story is still admirable.