1988. Junior year.
The class of 1990 is called to the gymnasium for an assembly–the reason for the assembly is irrelevant.
200 – 300 students chat with friends as they sit impatiently on the bleachers waiting for the assembly to start.
Assistant Vice Principal, Mr. Gibson, steps up to the podium and tries to get the students’ attention.
The students ignore him. That’s what kids do.
Mr. Gibson tries again.
Again, he’s ignored.
In anger, he yells, “If I don’t get your complete attention by the count of three, there’s going to be trouble!”
At two, the bleachers collapsed, taking the Class of 1990 with it.
That’s exactly how I remember it. I remember Mr. Gibson’s thread, I remember him starting the count, then, as if I blinked, people were running over me to get outside of the gym. One minute I was watching Mr. Gibson–blink–screaming kids running over me. I had two bleachers on my legs and a bleacher on my back.
Now, why they were running has always bothered me. I mean, for fuck’s sake, it’s not like they were being chased, or there was a fire. What happened, happened–the danger was gone. Unless they thought the floor was going to collapse, too.
Me? After I scrambled out from under the bleachers on my legs, I walked out and found my friends waiting for me in the hallway. We went to the bathroom to grab a smoke since we figured the teachers would be busy with the situation at hand. Afterwards, we headed to the cafeteria as per the instructions from the voice in the overhead speakers. I guess they wanted to make sure everyone was accounted for. There was a lot of running, someone might not have stopped and ran right on home.
At the cafeteria, the word was out, there were TV crews at the hospital. Kids were getting interviewed by the local news. Rumor had it that CNN was even there. Lucky bastards, I thought.
Soon enough, we were herded into the auditorium for another assembly. I’m fairly certain the topic for the first one was postponed. This one was to calm the students, or at least inform them what’s going on. After a bunch of “blah, blah, blahs” from the administration, I heard the magic words. “If anyone is hurt, or feeling any pain AT ALL, you should go to the hospital to get checked out.”
That’s all I needed. I stood up and started to go to up to the front. My buddy grabbed my arm and said, “Where are you going, you’re not hurt.”
“Yeah, but there are cameras at the hospital. I could get on TV.”
I faked a limp and headed to where some other students were gathering.
My folks were called and my dad met me at the hospital. I was fitted with a neckbrace and my dad and I were sent to a room where I would wait for the doctor. Before the doctor arrived, a reporter and a cameraman came in the room and asked my dad if it was okay to film. My dad said it was up to me, and I said sure thing.
Long story short, I got interviewed by two reporters (I got hit by another one on the way out of the hospital) and made two stations (Fox 5 and CBS).
But the best part was the lead in on Fox. It opened with a shot on the doctor checking me for damage, then the reporter’s voice comes over “Stewie Redrum was in the thick of it.”
Cut to my interview.
Yeah, me faking an injury to get on TV was probably not very cool, but, like most everything else in my life, I have no regrets.
It was worth it.