By the time I got to 6th grade, Mr. Honey (pronounced Hone-ey) was not only the principal of Larkin Street School, but he was the 6th grade teacher as well. I guess he figured all 6th graders at his school needed a special kick in the butt before entering Junior High School and he was just the man for that dubious distinction. For the most part, I'd give him an A for being a good teacher, but an F for being a horrible, hardass principal.
Our class was probably average sized for that time period. There was roughly twenty of us to his one. Class sizes had shrunk considerably a few year before when Dow Air Force Base was decommissioned. Out of those 20 or so in my 6th grade class, today I can only remember a handful of people's names: Mike, Rod, Noreen, Margie, Sherry, Dana, Nancy, Bart, Junior, Carol, Cheryl and Colleen. I guess that's a pretty big handful, isn't it?
On many occasions Mr. Honey not only taught us the standard 6th grade curriculum, but he tried to prepare us for life as best he could. I remember him telling us that statistically speaking one of us wouldn't make it to adulthood. What? One of us would die? His words, I'm sure, were said to make all of us a little more watchful of our own actions and the actions of others, however; I doubt his words were remembered by many after he spoke them. After all, at that age, aren't we all invincible? His words have definitely resonated in my head a few times along the way and for awhile I believed I was going to be that statistic. But lo and behold not only did I fool myself, I fooled many others who had the same thought.
Sixth grade was definitely a year of spreading my wings and learning to think outside the box. Until this point I was a good kid and a good student. Sure, I was a little on the chatty side and my mouth seemed to always be described in detail in notes on my report cards. I even earned the nickname "Gabby" when I was younger and thank God it didn't stick! I had in many instances learned that clowning around and running my mouth was a good cover for what was really going on underneath.
Mr. Honey fell from my grace the day he suspended several of us from school because he knew all of us would have to face our parents as well. Kids rarely use their brains when being mischievous especially kids with poor impulse control. Planning things out is a learned behavior and comes with experience. A bunch of us had decided to play spin the bottle after school with a stolen milk bottle from inside the school. We selected a secluded corner of the schoolyard in back of the school for the spot to make our circle. None of us gave a thought to teachers still being inside the school. We all thought the spot we had selected was safe from any prying eyes. In reality, I'm sure whatever teacher witnessed this spectacle was amused by what she saw, but such unruly actions had to be severely dealt with by administering a punishment that would keep us all from doing anything like that again. Suspension was what Mr. Honey selected and all that did for me was make me want to test authority all the more.
Addendum: I can't count this as my first kiss because I didn't get kissed because the game was rudely interrupted before that could happen. The woes of being as "numb as a stump"!