LOS ANGELES -- They had to be the three most depressing words in the English language: "Back to school."
I hated going back to school. It always happened right at the wrong time, just when I was getting into the rhythm of summer -- sleeping until noon, lounging by the pool all day, playing basketball, staying up late, watching TV. Just drifting from one day to the next. No one telling me what to do. Nothing expected from me.
Then that horrible alarm clock -- 7:20 a.m.! Nobody should be awake at 7:20 a.m. Why did grownups always want to do everything in the morning? What's wrong with the afternoon? (Let's say 2-ish?)
What a nightmare the first day of school was. I was always late. My dad would have to stop at the store on the way to school to pick up pencils and notebooks and such. The first day seemed to surprise him as much as me.
The really disgusting thing about the first day of school was that some kids seemed to actually LIKE being back. I hated them. All happy and smiling, wearing their new outfits, talking about their vacations in Hilton Head and Sea Island. And there I was wearing my same crappy hand-me-downs from last year and wishing I was still in bed.
Most of the teachers looked like they didn't want to be there, either.
It just started all over again: The way the teachers talked to us like we were morons, the constant numbing drone, tired cliches, hackneyed motivational-tape drivel -- cups being half-full, bumblebees who weren't supposed to fly. Didn't they realize we heard all this stuff last year? And the year before that?
Amazingly, the other kids were even worse than the teachers. With them there was no pretense of friendliness, they went right for the throat; probed for any tender spot, then sunk the fangs in. They came up with names like "fatso," "zitface," "skeletor," "bugeye," "metal mouth."
Then there were the popular kids. If life was a spectator sport then the popular kids had season tickets in the skyboxes while the rest of us were elbowing for position in the bleachers. It was like they knew their whole life would work out; they'd breeze through school, have a blast in college, date their own kind then have a nice cushy job with daddy's company when they finally decided to work.
Did I hate the popular kids.
Phil Perrier is a stand-up comic and free-lance writer who lives in Los Angeles.