episodic list articles by Corey B. Buckner

The 5 Best: Reasons I Got In Trouble At School

by Corey B. Buckner

Believe it or not, I used to get in A LOT of trouble in school. From kindergarten through the third grade I was a teacher's pet but something happened in Mr. B's fourth grade class where I realized that it was fun to "do bad things". I wasn't the type of bad student that teachers and students feared, nor was I the type of bad student to be talked about in staff meetings. I was more of a nuisance who was constantly being reminded that I was "wasting my potential''. I wasn't the "terrorize the school" type of bad like the kid who brought dynamite to school in his prosthetic limb (true story); I was more of a class clown who also occasionally liked to fight. With that, here are the five most interesting reasons I got in trouble in school.

5. Pencil Popping

When I was in elementary school; the fourth grade to be exact, my friends and I discovered pencil popping. If you don't know what pencil popping is, it is a game where one person holds their pencil vertically at both ends with their index finger and thumb; and the second person holds their pencil horizontally from the bottom, pulls the top backwards and then releases it downward on the other person's pencil. Imagine karate chopping one pencil with another. Both players take turns doing this until one of the pencils has been broken. Harmless fun right? Well, for some reason this game was outlawed in my elementary school.

That didn't deter me and my ragtag band of misfit, outlaw friends from partaking in this competitive endeavor. We would literally try to sneak and play under the desks in the classroom, while in line waiting to go to the bathroom, in line waiting to go into school in the morning, in the lunchroom, at recess or anywhere else that a teacher wasn't eagle-eyeing us. To make matters worse, our school had a pencil vending machine in the front office that sold THE WORLD"S BEST pencil popping pencils for just ten cents. Having already made several announcements decreeing that pencil popping was a "criminal" offense at Hickory Elementary; the principal rightly became suspicious of me and my band of outlaw pencil-popping friends when we started rushing into the office one by one every morning and purchasing pencils by the handful.

It wasn't long before Principal Powers, who by the way was an ABSOLUTE Principal Bae, began popping up on the regular and busting up our illegal pencil popping rings. Over time as janitors began busting into bathrooms and teachers began infiltrating the playground hamburger hideout (a real place) and interrupting our pencil popping racket with increasing fervor it became increasingly difficult to pencil pop at Hickory Elementary. The administration began handing out detentions by the week-full for anyone caught participating in this outlawed form of entertainment; eventually, raising the stakes too high to risk playing. With that, the sweet satisfaction of seeing your pencil decimate your opponent's was abandoned and the joy of pencil popping was traded in for other forms of detention-worthy activities.

4. Fighting Girls

For as far back as I can remember I lived my life under one overlying rule as it relates to females. My father made it very clear to me that there was absolutely no reason for a man to hit a woman. He also made it clear that on average men are bigger and stronger than women, and no real man would ever find joy in beating up someone smaller and weaker than him. He also made it crystal clear to me that if I ever fought a female I would have to fight him afterward so that he could show me what it's like to have to fight someone who was unfairly bigger and stronger than you. Regardless of how you process all of this through 2021 lenses, I greatly appreciate being raised this way as it has given me a great appreciation for protecting women and not trying to beat my wife and/or daughters into subservient obedience. Obviously I wouldn't tell you about this rule unless I had violated it at some point.

In fact, I violated this rule exactly three times between the fourth and sixth grades, and I can't remember being more afraid as a child than when I was waiting for my father to come pick me up from school after being suspended for these fights. The thing about fourth, fifth and sixth grade girls is that they are growing faster than their male counterparts. As such, at that age the girls are bigger than the boys and the first girl that I fought was exponentially bigger than me. That fact was my saving grace. That, and the fact that I was VERY CAREFUL to make sure that the principal explained in detail to my father that I was defending myself, trying not to fight, and did the bare minimum to defend myself.

Now, what I didn't say about that first fight with a girl is that I was absolutely being a jerk. In fact, in the first two fights with the same girl about four months apart the same course of events played out. Unprovoked, and solely for the purpose of clout; I was unleashing a flurry of weight-related insults on the girl. As the crowd convened behind me on the playground during recess and cheered me on to a chorus of laughter I unleashed joke after joke on her as she did nothing except turn redder and redder as the fury built up inside of her. At the height of my joke-based hilarity something happened that I had not anticipated as a possible outcome to my actions. The young lady that I was berating, who was also considerably larger than me charged towards me at full speed, reached back with all her might, and hit me square in my face. At that point of my life, this was the hardest I had ever been hit. In fact, from third grade through eight grade I had a minimum of three fights per school year and all but three of those fights were with boys and I can tell you with absolute certainty, that that punch from that girl was much harder than any punch I took from any of those boys I fought. As we used to say back then, she "cold cocked" me.

As she pushed me down and began unleashing a fury of punches on me I had two thoughts going through my head. The first thought was that my reputation will not recover if I lose this fight to this girl. The second thought was, if I get up and beat the brakes off of this girl, my father would do the same to me when I got home. Just like that I realized that my big, fat, ignorant mouth had put me in my first true no-win situation. So I pushed her off of me, got on top of her and straddled her in a way in which it was clear to my friends that I COULD win the fight if I wanted to; but just sat there waiting for a teacher to come and suspend us for fighting. The other two fights, one more with this same girl for the exact same reason and another fight with a different girl where my insults of her looks was the precipice to the confrontation, went the exact same way. I insulted them relentlessly for clout, they charged me, then I held them down until a teacher came.

After each fight, I was relentless at making sure Principal Powers explained to my father that I was "defending myself". Nevermind the fact that I was bullying, nevermind that I deserved every single punch I took; I just wanted to make sure that when I got home my dad didn't do what he said he would do under those circumstances. To date, that last physical altercation with someone of the opposite sex was in the sixth grade; and despite some hilarious stories of women attacking me I am proud to say that I have never come close to having a fight with a female since then.

3. Koomaaa

Do you know what the word "Koomaaa" means? Neither do I. Yet, in the seventh grade me and two of my friends thought it was hilarious to blurt this word out in the hallways when we saw each other and even during class as our teachers taught. In fact, it wasn't a real word. What we were doing was imitating something our Algebra teacher, who had an extremely odd accent combined with an odd voice, had said during class. Who knows what he was actually saying, the bottom line is that the word had no meaning to us but our science teacher, Miss V, HATED when we said it. She thought it was vulgar, and thought it might have some sort of inappropriate meaning when in fact it was just a phonetic imitation of a teacher with a voice and accent that was strange to us. We never even tried to define the word; just the sound of it was hilarious to us.

Interestingly enough, Miss V was one of the coolest teachers in the school. She was a young, hip, white lady who seemed to think that black guys were cool; and one of my friends swore up and down that she was attracted to him. She wasn't, but that didn't stop him from filling our ears with fantasies of what he thought she was thinking when he came to class everyday. Miss V's class was the only class that the three of us had together other than that math class, so you can imagine how often we would unleash a carefully placed "koomaaa" in that class. Especially since we thought Miss V would be the last teacher to actually punish us..

To be fair, as we continued to blurt out "koomaaa" in her class for weeks as we entered the class, as we left the class, while she was teaching, and while students were silently taking tests; she wanted us to "stop using that vulgarity" in her classroom. Then, one day we took it too far. We unleashed "koomaaa" after "koomaaa" while the rest of the class feverishly filled in their Scantron tests. Eventually, Miss V jumped up and yelled at us, "GET OUT! I warned all of you; now get out of my classroom and go to the Principal's office!" We didn't see Miss V for another 2 weeks after that, because we spent those two weeks in the dungeon of the school serving an in-school suspension.

2. Pouring Spit on Each Other

Growing up I played the trombone; a fact that I'm actually quite proud of because I was a particularly talented musician. While I was a great trombone player, I was a nightmare of a band member and often my classroom antics overshadowed my talent. Except for the first two weeks of my seventh grade year and the one year that I was actually kicked out of the band; I was always the first chair trombone player at my school. Again, this is something that I am legitimately proud of all these years later. The next three guys down from me in the trombone section were in many ways as nightmarish as I was. As a collective, we were a real problem for the director and the rest of the band.

The thing about the trombone is that it is an instrument that is very different from other band instruments. It doesn't have keys nor does it have valves to press to produce different notes. The trombone has a slide that you move in and out to change notes. At the end of that slide is a valve that you open up to release the saliva that builds up in the instrument as you play it. Well, it didn't take long for me and my merry band of misfit trombone players to realize that our instrument was uniquely constructed to release our saliva on the shoulders, backs and feet of people standing in front of or behind us.

So, what do you think we did with this knowledge? We used it to spend several weeks of high school sneaking up behind one another and unsuspectingly releasing our spit on each other's shoulders. When I think about this now I realize that this was so gross that I cannot believe that the first person who did it to someone else was not immediately beatdown. But, there we were all of us operating in the same kind of goofiness and finding this practice similarly hilarious. Again, in retrospect it wasn't hilarious; it was unsanitary and gross. Of course, once our band director caught wind of what we were doing he gave a very stern warning against the practice; probably assuming that would be enough to get us to stop. It wasn't, and not only did we not stop, we began doing it to other people.

Our marching band uniforms were extremely thick, so thick that a trombone player could sneak up behind someone, release the contents of their spit valve on their shoulder and they would never feel it or know that it had happened. So; that became the game. When we were on marching band trips and outings; we started trying to sneak up behind other band members and release the spit from our instruments on their shoulders without them knowing. Of course, it didn't take long before other band members noticed what we were doing and the most tattle-tellingest member of the band RAN and snitched on us. For our misdeeds, we were banned from non-performance band outings (the fun stuff) for a time and served a few days in in-school suspension. Honestly, it could have been worse. Had this happened in 2021 we probably would have been charged with some kind of assault or something. Don't let me belittle what we did though; it was horrible and we deserved to get snitched on and to suffer the consequences of our behaviors.

1. The Exploding Pen

Back to fourth grade and Mr. B's class. I have bad biting habits;as in I bite my nails, and I chew on things habitually. In fourth grade, I developed an obsessive habit for biting and chewing on pens. Oh my goodness, those erasable pens were the absolute best for chewing; but any old Bic or Write Bros ballpoint pen would do. At some point I had actually chewed through so many pens that my teacher, Mr. B outlawed chewing pens across the board in his class. He actually made it a classroom rule, and it was the only rule ever added to the original list of rules that he placed on the board the first day of the school year.

In general, as a student I was so disruptive in Mr. B's class that after moving my desk to several different places in the classroom, he eventually brought my desk up and placed it so close to his desk that they were physically touching. A side point of irony; my wife also had Mr. B as a teacher a different year than me, and she was also singled out in the same way and relegated to the same seating arrangement for the same reasons. Go figure. But, getting back to my story; this arrangement was the setup for the single most interesting reason that I got in trouble at school growing up. At some point Mr. B had to leave the classroom. This wasn't uncommon and we even had protocols in place for what we were to do while he was gone. By and large, because Mr. B was actually a pretty cool teacher, we followed those protocols, but one protocol I didn't follow was the no pen biting rule. This particular time that Mr. B left the classroom, I began intensely trying to finish biting through a pen that I had been working on in secret for a few days. Well, I succeeded, and in doing so ink began pouring out of the pen.

To this day I have no idea why the ink spilled out of that pen so fast and with such exuberance. I had bitten through many pens before and usually I'd just get a little harmless dry ink on my hand and move on to the next pen. But this day it poured out like blue blood escaping a punctured vein. That ink was sputtering everywhere, and since my desk was surgically attached to Mr. B's desk, ink started sputtering onto his desk. Noticing the box of Kleenex on his desk, I desperately lunged for them; further covering Mr. B's desk, and more problematically the papers on his desk, in ink. When Mr. B returned to the classroom, the rest of the class was trying to control their laughter having just witnessed my Three Stooges-esqe comedy of errors. It didn't take long for Mr. B to turn his anger away from the misbehaving classroom and focusing it squarely on the ink-covered kid in the front of the classroom LITERALLY sitting at the end of a trail of ink that started at the papers on his desk. That kid being me.

My list of infractions was many that day, and I spent more than a few days in the principal's office as a result of what I had done. Not to mention the trouble I got in when I got home because I had ruined a school outfit simply because I would not stop biting through my pens. I had already had more than a few letters sent home to my parents about how disruptively I would bite my pens in class (and I was disruptive with it) and here I was again, destroying school property, ruining my clothes and disrupting the class all because I would not stop. I'd like to tell you that I learned my lesson that day, but I didn't. In fact, I spent several more years biting pens before I eventually grew out of the practice.

That's it you all, that's my list. Those are the 5 most interesting and hilarious reasons that I got in trouble in school growing up. Of course, I got in trouble MANY more times than these for MANY other reasons; but these five stand out in my memory.

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