Hot Topic (Not the Store) "Cartography," Coming-Of-Age and a Teach named Beach Jackie Johnson

HelloGiggles reader Evan tweeted me the word “cartography.” This made me think of my 9th grade Pre-AP Geography class, where every day we colored in maps. And that’s it. I didn’t learn anything about the world but I did get really good at staying in the lines. And boy, did I use up a ton of colored pencils.

This story involves me coming-of-age as a young comedienne and the teacher of said class, Ms. Beach.

You see, Geography was one of the first classes of my high school experience. I came from a neighborhood middle school and now I was in this huge school where several middle schools of kids combined to form a freshman class. Lots of new faces. I was going through some weird hormonal emotions, trying to make a good impression on my fellow students and wanting to fit in.

Up until this point in my life I was one of those rule-following, goodie-two-shoes, never got in trouble kind of kids. I made straight A’s, knew all the answers, always respected every adult and never, EVER got called out for being bad or doing anything wrong. I was so annoying.

In kindergarten, I got my name written on the board for talking, which was so bogus ’cause EVERYONE was talking, but I am blessed/cursed with a very distinguished voice so Mrs. Compton made an example out of me. Upon seeing my name scrolled on the board like a ne’er-do-well, I bursted into tears. I wept with humiliation. I got in the car that day and confessed to my mom what I had done. This is because I was and still am disgustingly eager to please and to me, my name on the board meant shame to my family name. I vowed to never get in trouble again.

So cut to now 14-going-on-15 me, sitting in my new high school class. Ms. Beach was passing out yet another map for us to color. I don’t remember much about what she looked like except she wore bright pink lipstick that seemed to stay on her teeth more than her lips. And she had long red nails and badly dyed red hair. Think like, a trailer park Lucile Ball. Now, I love teachers and so many of them inspired and encouraged me greatly. Ms. Breach was not one of these teachers. She was one of those teachers that gave them a bad name. So she deserved what I did to her.

During one of her uninspired diatribes about how insubordinate we were as a class, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I wanted to learn about where other countries were on the Earth, not just color maps and listen to this woman tell us to be quiet! We were restless and someone needed to express this to her! I stood up from my seat, looked her dead in the eyes and yelled, “Why are you such a BEACH!?”

The whole class DIED laughing. I stood there with a growing smirk on my face, smug and proud of my clever albeit obvious joke. Good ol’ Ms. Beach’s face turned as red as her bottle-dyed hair. She was livid at me. But I didn’t even care, ’cause I KILLED. I just earned the positive attention of my peers and at the time, that was worth selling out my morals.

Then Ms. Beach slapped on my desk… a DETENTION SLIP! I knew my actions would have consequences but I didn’t think about that when I was mustering up the courage to blurt out my clever quip. I don’t even remember the detention session, but I do remember going home and telling my dad about what happened. I needed his signature on the slip and of course I wasn’t gonna forge it. He wasn’t pleased that I got in trouble, but he did laugh out loud when I told him I called Ms. Beach a “Beach”. I even heard him tell the story on the phone to some of his friends. Mom and Dad always supported my comedy and knew I would only give sass mouth to those who deserved it.

This rebellious move sparked a new Jackie. I gained the confidence and ambition to become the voice of the people. That year I got 2 more detentions. One was for standing up when my Pre-AP Biology teacher Mrs. McKelroy told everyone to stay in their seats when she left the room. I thought it would be funny to stand up in my seat. I did, and it was. Everyone was laughing when she suddenly burst back into the room and saw me standing there. In that detention I had to scrub out beakers for an hour. A small price to pay for the acceptance and respect of my freshman class.

The other detention I got was for wearing a shirt that was considered too short for school. Mrs. Hipp gave me that one. Don’t let the name fool you; she obviously wasn’t that HIP! (Why didn’t I say that to her? Prolly woulda killed.)

Sorry, South Garland High School, I liked looking fly and I couldn’t adhere my fashion sense to your super restrictive dress code rules. Belly shirts were cool in back in 2001. Not my fault y’all were haters. Dressing the part of being the local bad ass was super important to by budding image.

Anyway,  I won “Class Favorite” that year as voted by my peers, then later became class president. I truly blossomed into who I am today: someone who is willing to take a small hit for the greater good. Someone who lives for laughter. Someone who doesn’t mind scrubbing some beakers if it meant hilarity and popularity. I’m a SELL OUT!

And now I’m an actor in Hollywood – still eager to please and constantly needing validation and approval. It all comes full circle! Thanks, Beach!

Please leave a new word below in the comments to help inspire my next Hot Topic story! Or tweet me one. I’d also love to her about your stories of triumphant rebellion.

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  1. Loved this! You should use a word from one of my “A Word to the Not-So-Wise” posts next: http://www.therebelexperiment.com/blog/category/a-word-to-the-not-so-wise

    I’m thinking about using your “diatribes” in my next installment, actually! xo

  2. Can we practice my high note, Mr. Mullino? (Oh high school, JJ. Love it)
    Can I bait you on new words? Sebring, Showboater, American Tanlines, May Pearl.

  3. YESS!! Good old South got a shout out, this makes me want to run into Mrs. Kelly’s room and yell “Stop wearing your glasses like that woman!” (always on the tip of her nose, I swear they are going to fall one day!) New Words: gimcrakery & mimp

  4. Ha, I taught at South Garland High School for two years. Mrs. Hipp is still there, so you could probably march in and still use that line.

  5. Your words are: “pet names,” “named pets,” and just for fun, “road trip.” :D

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