Good Teacher. Strange Teacher.

In my sophomore year of high school a new teacher arrived at Prescott High, he was not to last for long but he was totally there for me. He was the only adult I really liked, who treated me with respect and not the weird way most adults talk to teenagers. The first day of class he came up to me very excited, feverishly shaking my hand, so pleased to meet me. He had thick wavy hair and a wild beard jutting out from a snagged toothed grin like one of the Muppets who rocked with the band.

Bob was in charge of hanging the art work at the county fair that year and he put my picture in the best spot on a wall all by it self when you first walked in the door. It was a surreal abstract image of a puzzle piece land floating in the sky with a pyramid on top in front of a fractured sky. I wore down every one of my 60 prismatic color pencils to little nubs on a piece of illustration board and it made feel like an artist again first time after the horrors of junior high. One day he confronted me in the office to make me aware that I doing art that I thought my friends would like, most notably was the demon head with rocker hair on an upside down cross bisected with a Flying V guitar. He told me to "make art for my self" and it took awhile for me to know what that meant, I was a metal head and this was my god. My senior year the advanced art class had 12 boys and one fine looking preppy girl who acted "stuck up" and for good reason, she was super hot and we were a band of dorks. One day when she and Bob were both out of class, one boy after another began to destroy her large abstract aquatic image with Chinese throwing stars and knives. The next day when he confronted the class I behaved like I was exempt because I did participate but he made it clear that because I did not stand up that I was just as guilty and somewhat complicit . I was a little confused but he alway challenged me in a way that I needed.

Now Bob was by all means was a card carrying 60's hippie and told me stories maybe not appropriate for a a teenager but I loved them! He talked about the free love and how he would wait at the gate after a concert and simply give a pretty girl a knowing look and they would get it on. He talked about the lids of grass they smoked, the LSD and how a lot of groovy people got strung out on heroin by 1970. Bob would play the Velvet Underground, Bob Marley and Pink Floyd in class. I begged him to smoke pot with me, it was my doobie and he did. He also told me things that were a little confusing, like when in the 70's he was paid by a coke dealer to ball the guys girlfriend because the dude had a bad case of coke dick and didn't want to loose her. How he developed a sexual attraction to needles an wound up in the hospital with hepatitis twice.

Bob was chased out of Prescott High about 2 years after I graduated. The football coach pinned him against the wall one day and said we had problems with your kind once before and those day were not coming back. His students loved him in a way that made the other teachers look bad but he made me feel good, that I could be and artist even if I was misunderstood.

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