Class Act

You remember him: unnaturally thick hair, tucked-in sport shirt, half-sitting on the front of the desk with a fleshy thigh splayed to the left, the crew-socked calf dangling below. He could be any teacher--that is, until he flubs virtually all historical events and the fact that his pants are not pants, but really unnatural fibers formed into trademark blue or gray Sansabelt shorts. He is Coach History.

Was it a deficient paycheck, a shortage of certified teachers or just a Texas school thing that brought the coach from the field house into the classroom? It certainly wasn't a love of history. He was honest about that. And, to be fair, there were some double-duty coaches who knew what they were talking about, but Dallas comedian Andy Long must not have found too many during his 12-year study of classrooms in Dallas, Corsicana, Garland, Plano, Richardson and other districts.

Inspired by his visits to the classroom, Long created his one-man play Without Class--a day at the fictitious Southwest North Dallas High East. Students of the audience can flash back to earlier days in DISD, GISD, RISD (you get the idea) schools as they meet Coach Knippe (in his Texas History class, of course), pantomime fanatic and theater arts/health education instructor Mr. Oaklawn, amateur magician and physics teacher Sandy McCracken and others. We can even flash back to our own health class as the football team captain presents an oral report in the form of a rap song. (Hey, Long, were you in our health class or something?)

Those public school memories may be painful at first and daunting to face head-on, but something tells us that this time no one will get mocked for his Cure T-shirt. And we hope that no one will have striped eyebrows (what was that anyway?). And at least we all might get out of class having learned a lesson: Try private school.

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Merritt Martin