On Being Fourteen Years Old and Loving Miss Perkins
Miss Perkins had been teaching at my high school for nearly a year and I was in love with her. It was a fourteen-year-old boy’s love for a personification of a wet dream twice his age, and I carried that love around in my chest like a loaded revolver.
Miss Perkins was a teacher at my school, but she wasn’t my teacher. If I had her as an educator, I might’ve learnt something (and not crashed out so spectacularly). I only snatched glimpses of her strolling to and from the faculty lounge, the sounds of her high-heels on the cracked concrete tearing into my adolescent hormonal heart like a power drill. Miss Perkins waltzing across the title screen of my ‘The Wonder Years’ to the soundtrack of ‘The La’s – There She Goes.’
There was a rumor floating around the school like a bad fart that she was fucking the geography teacher. I liked to think that the rumor wasn’t true. Kids made up a little song about it; “Perkins sucks Berkins.
Berkins licks Perkins.
Perkins fucks Berkins.
Oh yeah, baby, baby!.”
Sometimes, spurned by the madness of the crowd, I would join in unenthusiastically with the chant, mouthing and mumbling the words like an atheist singing hymns at a distant relative’s funeral that they’d been obligated to attend.
I didn’t really like the geography teacher whose name was, as the song creatively suggested, Mr. Berkins. I think it would be more honest to say I hated him. He was skinny with brown moles all over his pink skin, his grey eyes bulged out of his head like two half-buried golf balls and he spat when he shouted at you for forgetting your homework or for being late. Long thick black hairs tangled out from his nostrils and when he breathed the hairs slithered and twisted like snakes in dry, black holes. Sweat was always seeping out of the large pores on his forehead.
Whenever I saw him with Miss Perkins, he would always be trying to make her laugh or trying to touch her arm or shoulder subtlety, the sly little prick. Always pretending that he was something special and not just some ghost of a robot. I knew his game. I was on to him. He wasn’t fooling me.
Miss Perkins looked like one of the women from the Victoria’s Secret catalogue that I kept stuffed underneath my mattress. Blonde, busty, beautiful, young, and probably intelligent too. Nothing seemed to touch her because she was above it all. Berkins on the other hand seemed old and crustified like a piece of dinosaur shit in the sun, even though I’m sure he was pretty young himself.
I remember one afternoon he sent me out of his class for swearing at this fat girl called Shelly. She said I pretended to drop my pencil on the floor, so I could snatch a peek up her skirt, when she had in fact swung open her fat white thighs like the jaws of a shark to show me her whirlpool-like snatch.
After the lesson had ended Mr Berkins called me back into the classroom as everyone was leaving and cross examined me with the eyes that looked as though they were trying to leap out of his face. He kept looking at me as the sweat slid down his shiny forehead and cheeks. Finally, he took out a white handkerchief from his V-neck sweater’s sleeve and mopped at his brow. I couldn’t believe he kept a handkerchief stuffed up his sleeve, to me it was surreal and ludicrous and justified all the hate I felt for him. He finished drying his face off, smiled a slick grin and asked me whether I would like it if he looked up my mother’s skirt. I couldn’t believe it. What kind of a question was that to ask a kid? I knew he was trying to beat me, defeat me. I didn’t know what he was trying to defeat me at, but I was sure I wouldn’t let him win. I licked my lips coolly and said in as manly a voice as I could force out of my shallow chest, without it breaking, that if my dad caught him looking at my mom’s pussy, he would kick the shit out of him.
As soon as the words snaked their way from my mouth and birthed themselves into the awkward silence, his eyes jumped from his head, all white and like lemmings at a cliff edge. He scratched at the bald patch in the center of his head and kept saying the word “quite, quite, quite, quite”, as he scratched, nodded, and stared.
Finally, he pointed a thumb towards the classroom door, telling me to get out and we both knew I had won something ridiculously small and worthless. I attempted some kind of a strut out of the classroom, almost feeling like the character McMurphy from ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ and refusing to acknowledge the possibility that a woman like Miss Perkins could be interested in such a man as Mr Berkins. A loser pretending to be some sort of a hot-shot. A man outwitted by an always outnumbered and outgunned fourteen-year-old boy with dirty socks and holes in the soles of his shoes.
In her second year of teaching Miss Perkins handed in her resignation and disappeared from the high school and my life.
A very short while after Mr Berkins quit as well and for the first time I could almost empathize with him. Understand where he was coming from.
A little piece of the sunshine had been stolen from the school and it was now a lot darker and less fluid and more mechanical within the hallways and the classrooms. I supposed even though we were completely different human beings we’d both discovered a red rose growing out of a pile of horse shit and we both knew that with the flower gone, there was only the pile of shit left behind.
Much, much later, I found out that they had gotten married.
Mr. Berkins had won after all.