Tag Archives: getting into trouble

luther decaro (and libby briner)

28 Jun

I went almost my entire childhood never getting into any serious trouble.  As my high school graduation approached, I had managed to nearly complete my education without so much as a detention (avoided by the portable cleaning incident of 1999). However in my last semester of my senior year, you could say the shit hit the fan.

It started when my parents and I got in an argument that resulted in me moving out.  My dramatized version is that I was kicked out.  Their version is that I threw all their good parenting back in their faces and broke their hearts by leaving voluntarily.  The truth is somewhere in the middle.

Regardless of the reasons, I was an eighteen year old high school student, living on my own, way over stressed than my age and assumed responsibilities called for. In addition to an almost full-time job, I was juggling classwork and my responsibility as the editor-in-chief of a 200 page yearbook. There were a lot of factors that contributed to the trouble I am about to detail.  One was me being overwhelmed by my own life. The other was a ridiculously unqualified yearbook advisor. And the last probably was the lurking idea that maybe, just maybe, nothing I was doing would end up mattering in my adult life.

Without boring you, dear reader, with the boring logistics and pricing details of a high school publication, let me just say that often in order to meet deadlines on time, our staff would submit false text with the intention of replacing it in proofs.  Text was free to replace but pictures were not. This particular year, each staff member used their actual signature as a byline – in the form of a picture, meaning it was irreplaceable in proofs.

For our senior section, we drew names of several seniors to write features on to be sprinkled throughout the senior portraits. One name that was drawn was Luther Decaro.  Luther was actually somewhat of a friend of mine. I say somewhat because we shared a homeroom, had almost all of our classes the last four years together, and were on the same team in math league. We got along well but didn’t hang out outside of school or anything. I knew Luther had had a difficult senior year. After going his entire life with perfect attendance, he had suffered a severe eye infection and had to miss weeks of class. When he returned he wore an eye patch, something that we all know that when paired with math league, results in social destruction. So in order to make a deadline, I wrote a half ass story about Luther’s difficult year with the intention of actually interviewing Luther and changing it by the time proofs were due.

When proofs came around, I was swamped with other work, so I gave the Luther story to my assistant editor, Libby Briner, an extremely capable writer. She went to pull Luther out of his AP chemistry class to interview him, explaining that she was doing a favor for me, and he responded by saying, “Tell her to go fuck herself.”

Libby and I were flabbergasted by his response. Not only was it completely unwarranted, but it was just plain rude. I remember Libby and I joked around about how you should never insult someone with the power of the pen, we had our laugh about the revenge we could exact and then we got back to work. And this is where my negligence comes in. Maybe I was concerned about more important articles. Maybe I was concerned about how I was going to pay for groceries when my new roommate was stealing fifties out of my money jar. Whatever the reason, I simply forgot about the Luther article. The problem of the missing article simply went away.

Because we were such a sorry yearbook staff that year and we’d missed several deadlines, our books didn’t arrive until the day before our graduation ceremony. Being in such a powerful position, I took my own book home that night, as well as procuring copies for a couple of my close friends, but the plan was to distribute the rest of the books to everyone between graduation practice and the ceremony itself the next day. A girl at school had a small brunch before graduation practice, and one of their guests was a friend of mine who brought his yearbook to show off to everyone attending. It was at this little soiree that the Luther article was discovered. Coincidentally, Luther was also at this party.

The article basically said: 1- Luther had perfect attendance his entire life until he was struck with a nasty bout of gonorrhea of the eye. 2- When Luther isn’t competing in math competitions, he spends his time watching animal porn (a true story, as screen captures had already been emailed around of him IMing a friend about how he was NOT looking at animal porn, while a nasty picture of a frisky and well-endowed donkey is open in the next window).

In addition to being ultimately responsible, as editor-in-chief, for everything published in that yearbook, due to my intentions of writing the original story and the added expense of replacing pictures, this story was followed with the big fat signature of yours truly. Needless to say, the parent of the girl throwing the party butted into my business and called the principal. I mean jeez, everyone knows that no one actually READS their yearbook anyway!

It took a few hours for the trouble to catch up with me. I left graduation practice and hurried to my boyfriend’s house because I still had to finish writing my commencement speech. Mid afternoon, as I’m struggling with with which 19th century author to quote, I get a frantic phone call from my mother telling me that the principal has been trying to reach me all day. He wants to see me and my parents in his office immediately.

I go to school, realizing with a strange feeling of dread, that this is the first time I’ve ever seen the inside of his office. I don’t remember much about that meeting, except that it began with him telling me he couldn’t let me walk at graduation, which resulted in me crying and unable to speak coherently the rest of the meeting. I guess a broken version of what had happened managed to come across somehow (as well as my convincing argument that I had no idea what gonorrhea even was), and later that afternoon, my story was corroborated by the other assistant editor. In a last minute ruling, I was granted permission to walk and make my speech.

Libby, who was to take my position as editor the following year, was removed from the staff. The advisor was relieved of her duties. Several teachers and a few yearbook staff members pulled together to cut the Luther article out of every yearbook, an action that caused an even greater uproar by the father of our class president who was featured on the other side of the page. Luther from what I heard, was really pissed at me for like a year, but never mentioned this to my face. We rarely see each other at parties, and exchange brief friendly conversation, but we never speak of the gonorrhea incident, though it lingers between us like an image of a man boning a donkey burnt into a computer screen.