Corey Trench's Blog: My Growing Life

My Math Teacher, The Rock Star

I sucked at Math in high school. It was by far my most boring and frustrating subject. I always felt that my Math teachers were just making stuff up as they went along. Things like the Quadratic formula sounded more like something out of Star Trek to me. Instead of paying attention to numeric drivel, I was much more content day dreaming about being a rock star. I had just joined a band that and got to sing and play drums (I was stuck with the former because the other guys were scared to sing). We weren’t the most popular group in school, but we had fun. My parents, however, were much more interested in the C’s that I was getting in the unsexy world of numbers. I wondered if Kurt Cobain’s parents forced him to do his homework before he could practice with Nirvana. Like it or not, my shortcomings in “Mathletics” placed me in remedial Math. This was also known by my esteemed colleagues as “dumb Math”. To make matters worse, none of my friends were in my classes because they could do trigonometry in their sleep. I was in a room full of people and never felt more alone. I didn’t say a single word in class and I’m pretty sure most of the kids thought I was mute. It seemed like I was doomed to spend the rest of my days in Mathematical purgatory. And then I met Mr. G.

"Shall we implement the Quadratic formula, Captain?"

Mr. G was my Math teacher my Junior year. He was new and very young. He had thick black hair and a well-trimmed goatee. I’m sure his facial hair was just a ploy to cover up his youthful looks. The man was the epitome of cool. In class, he would talk to us in a very casual manner. He even let us call him Mr. G (I could give his full name, but he preferred it this way). What teacher would allow that? He would also crack jokes. Our class was like stand up comedy hour. I had never met another high school teacher like him. I almost forgot I was taking Math.

Despite Mr. G’s casual vibe, I was still very uncomfortable speaking in class. I was a really nerdy kid and thought it would be best for me to stand clear and not get in his way. I hadn’t talked to him aside from occasionally raising my hand to answer a question. However, all of that would change the day he brought in something to show the class. When he passed it around the room, my eyes widened and jaw dropped. It was a picture of him playing guitar in a band.

Wait a second, my Math teacher plays guitar…in a band?!

Ladies and Gentlemen, my Math teacher.

Just when I thought the man couldn’t get any cooler, he did. And for the first time in my life, I had something in common with a Math teacher: rock and roll. After class, I went up to Mr. G and told him I played in a band too. The conversation quickly turned to music. He was a classic rock guy who loved Pink Flyod, Zeppelin, and The Who. He said he performed “I Wanna Rock N’ Roll All Night” by Kiss at a another school where he used to teach. We were on a roll. Then he dropped a bombshell on me and asked if he could come see my band. I tensed up. I couldn’t believe it. A teacher who wanted to see my band? I didn’t think teachers went to rock shows. I imagined them quietly grading papers at home while listening to Jimmy Buffet or Kenny G. I told him we had a gig next weekend. He said he’d be there.

The band was set to play a show at a place called “Happy Endings” (No, it wasn’t a masseuse place). The night of the show, I scanned the crowd for Mr. G. When I couldn’t find him, I was disappointed, but somewhat relieved. What if he thought my band sucked? I put it out of my mind when we hit the stage. That night, we covered “Here Comes The Rain” by CCR. I had trouble singing the high notes and sounded like a cat stuck in an accordion. Despite that, we finished strong with “Big Bottom” by Spinal Tap. The crowd really loved it and gave us a big applause.

After the show, I saw a familiar figure wearing a leather jacket. It took me a second, but then I recognized him right away. It was Mr. G! He told me that he saw the show. I thanked him for coming out and we talked for a bit. I smiled at the thought of him teaching class in his leather jacket. The Fonz knew his Algebra.

Check your answers. Ehhhh!

On Monday, we took our seats in Mr. G’s class. I knew that the other night would be our little secret, one that I would cherish forever. Then a funny thing happened. He told the whole class! Everyone turned around and looked at me. They were just as surprised as I was. For all they knew, I probably just sat quietly in the corner of my own room on the weekends. My mind raced. I thought, “What is this guy doing? Putting his coolness in jeopardy by associating with me?” One of the kids asked what Mr. G thought of my band. He said we were awesome! The cool guy stamp of approval. Another kid asked me when we were performing next. I was on cloud 9. I had finally understood what Mr. G was doing. I was now one of the cool kids in his class.

Mr. G had given me a chance to live the fantasy of being a rock star. And whether he knew it or not, he taught me that it was okay to be yourself, especially around teachers. They’re people too, you know.

On the last day of school, I got to return the favor by seeing him perform. I can’t remember what songs he played, but he looked cool. Really cool.


A True Christmas Miracle
December 9, 2010, 8:31 am
Filed under: Life

I ruined Christmas. Yes. Our most cherished holiday and I desecrated it. I should back up for a minute and say that Christmas is MY holiday. Yes, I own it! I have ever since I was a little kid. Ask my parents. They’re the ones who call me Mr. Christmas. No tree was safe from my decorating frenzy. I would use every ornament to cover the tree. My wooden toy train would surround the base of the trunk and an army of nutcrackers would stand guard (Our cats would make it their personal mission to knock everything over). So, you may be wondering: how could Mr. Christmas ruin Christmas?

It all began with a lie. “Santa Claus isn’t real,” said my “good friend” Brian on the bus. I couldn’t believe I had heard these words uttered from another kid’s mouth. It was blasphemous.  How could this heretic be spreading lies about Santa? Of course he was real! My parents told me so. And everything your parents say is true. After all, why would they lie to you? This whole existential Claus crisis had rocked my kid brain. I had to get the truth.

Who is this man subjectively telling me to drink Coke?!

“Dad, Santa’s real, isn’t he?” The dinner table got extremely quiet. My Father had reassured me he was. “But the kids at school said he isn’t.” Ah yes, the very words no parent wants to hear, “But the kids at school said–.” Now, faced with the delicate task of potentially ruining my childhood, my parents decided to let me in on “the secret”.

I remember how they led me into another room. This was a true clandestine operation. I wondered if the President got this kind of treatment when his top officials told him government secrets. My heart was pounding out of control. My Father then broke the news about Santa. The unbearable truth. I remember asking about other mystical figures such as the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy. Surely, they couldn’t of been a part of this whole cover up conspiracy. And alas, they were. Before it was over my Father admonished me, “Don’t tell your brothers.” This was classified information.

Mr. President, it's time we had a little talk...

What had transpired after that came out of my unbridled selfishness. If Christmas was ruined for me, then the others should know the cold, harsh reality as well. I had told my brothers, even the youngest, that Santa was a sham. I remember them not even being heart broken. It was my parents who were truly upset. I had ruined Christmas for everyone because I could not live with the pain of knowing the truth. It would have been over then. What point would there be in a tree, the stockings, or the cookies and milk that would remain untouched?

Then it dawned on me. Even if Santa weren’t real, Mr. Christmas certainly was. It was that feeling I got every year around Christmas. It was feeling of joy and anticipation of a holiday that’s more about family and unity than anything else. We can celebrate those who exist in our lives, ones who care for and love us.

My family and I have celebrated many, many good years after Santa Gate. And I look forward to this year when Mr. Christmas visits us again.