Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Mr. Yates

When I arrived in High School, my Freshman English Teacher was Mr. David Yates. He was a rather avuncular fellow who liked to stroke his chin and grin when he was about to say something that he thought was clever. It was a source of endless frustration to him that I could talk to my neighbors, distracting them, but still pay attention to his lectures.[1] He also lived in the same LDS ward [2] as several of my friends, which meant we knew where he lived. Thus we put this information to good use: we toilet-papered his house.[3]

To tease him after the fact, I wrote a few poems and left them on his desk when he was out of the classroom. The first was simply a taunt, as follows:

A Visit in the Night

Over the bushes, over the trees,
I fly through the air with the greatest of ease.
Carefully aimed, and then thrown up high:
I leave a white trail like a jet in the sky.
Woven in and out, a long messy trail,
Everyone sees my double-ply tail.
I bounce and I roll all over the ground
Quietly, though—not making a sound.
I come in the night, a clandestine caper
Then it starts to rain—I’m wet toilet paper![4]

After this the toilet-papering faded from memory. Then one day we all came to class and much to our surprise, Mr. Yates had built a curtain of toilet paper hanging from the ceiling around the desk of one of our classmates—he'd tried for revenge, but attacked the wrong person! I immediately penned another taunt:

A Note to Mr. Yates

A cardboard cylinder hangs from a tree.
Won’t someone come and set him free?
A night-long journey brought him here;
He spent his innards in a flight of fear.
With protective covering lost, he shakes in the breeze.
He wonders why his captors must flee.
In a spurring of hope, the morning light grew
And his detaining rope softened in the new-forming dew.
Closer to freedom, gravity draws—
He is suddenly snatched by a balding man’s claws.
His journey to paradise: rest on the ground

Eventually he figured out that I was the one writing the poems and exacted his revenge, but that's a story for another day. More disturbing, he claimed to be poor enough that he collected all the toilet paper from his yard and brought it in the house for his family to use.


[1] Leann will attest that I have completely lost this ability to multitask, particularly when it comes to talking or listening while doing something else. I usually have to stop whatever else I am doing, so that I can talk or listen.

[2] Learn more about the LDS Church here and here.

[3] I actually snagged my face on a tree branch and lost a contact while doing so.

[4] Luckily for him, it didn't actually rain the night we toilet-papered him.

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