Oh no, Mr. Bill!

16 04 2010

This post is not going to be funny. I’m pretty sure you won’t cry, though. Unless you’re weird. Or pregnant, in which case you probably cry about everything.

In high school, I was in choir. And some other stuff, but try to focus here. I’m talking about choir. Not just any choir, either. I was in the top choir–Show and Chamber. (Are they a show choir? Are they a chamber choir? Aha! They’re both!) The choir director (we’ll call him Mr. Bill) was one of the most beloved teachers at the school.

One day, a friend and I were in the choir room talking to Mr. Bill. I don’t remember how this came about, but at some point Mr. Bill said, “Come sit in my lap.” Er…excuse me? I said, “Um, no, that’s okay.” So Mr. Bill grabbed my hand and pulled me into his lap.

So what’s  17-year-old girl to do? Well, I told my guidance counselor. And a few friends. Pretty soon just about everybody knew I’d accused Mr. Bill of inappropriate behavior. Fortunately, everybody was supportive and understanding, and Mr. Bill was severely reprimanded.

HA!

Yeah, I’m totally messing with you. Despite the fact that (as I learned during this process) Mr. Bill had several similar complaints, no action was taken. I’m guessing he got a letter in his employment file. I’m sure that was terribly painful for him.

As for public opinion…here’s a sampling:
“I can’t believe you would do that. He’s like a grandfather.” Considering I didn’t even sit on my grandfather’s lap…no.
“You just have a dirty mind.”
“You don’t understand how he thinks.”
“Why would you say that about such a wonderful person?”

Yeah. So I got to be even more of a social pariah than usual until people figured out nothing was going to change and wonderful, sensitive Mr. Bill wasn’t going anywhere.

Do I sound bitter about this? Well, good. I am. I’m angry that a teacher put me in that situation. I’m angry that I was criticized for reporting a completely unacceptable action.

Some who read this blog went to high school with me. They loved Mr. Bill, and that’s okay. But now that we’re 15 years past high school, I’d like those people to look at this from a parents’ perspective. What if it was your daughter? Would you care how grandfatherly and kind the teacher was? Would that make a difference in your judgement? And does the intent of the action really matter if the end result is a teenage girl who feels coerced and uncomfortable?

I know my answer.

*Booyah! No writing errors were found! WordPress has acknowledged my grammatical superiority!

**Crap. Booyah isn’t in the WordPress dictionary.

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8 responses

17 04 2010
Alicia

What? As a teeneager you didn’t feel like giving “your grandfather” a lap dance…..EWWWWW! I Remember Mr. Bill….from the periphery of the band room. Not surprised, though, he always seemed a little creepy. No love lost when he left.

17 04 2010
Amber

I seem to vaguely remember that. Very vaguely. I also didn’t do much in choir except play drums in a song and eat lunch in the choir room. I do remember most of the ‘can you believe that!’ sort of gossip were things that happened in choir not in band. Creepy.

17 04 2010
Peter

Don’t even get me started on Mr. Bill. His behavior with girls my age always bugged me, but I could never put my finger on why. In hindsight, it’s all too clear. (Did you tell M&D about it? Did they do anything?)

Mr. Bill got so many passes from OHS that it’s beyond ludicrous. My story: I was in charge of choir fundraisers involving the collection of thousands of dollars in cash and checks. Mr. Bill was theoretically overseeing the fundraiser, but the “overseeing” consisted of letting me use the locked drawer in his desk to store the money. When I came in one morning and found the drawer broken open and the cash gone, I was devastated. Cops were called, etc. The perpetrator was discovered but got off the hook pretty easy, thanks to his incredibly overbearing and controlling mom (Is he in jail now? Anybody know?).

The administration said that Mr. Bill had broken school policy by allowing the money to be kept in the drawer, rather than turning it in to the administration daily. Unfortunately, I had to be told this by the administration rather than by Mr. Bill, who never once told me sorry or admitted it was really his fault. Instead, there was a solemn moment at the end of choir practice where he told everybody about the theft and how it led to a letter in his file. He wasn’t happy about it. Didn’t help me feel less crappy about what happened on “my” watch. (I also planned and executed the choir tour that year, which was then commandeered, bungled, and mismanaged by Mr. Bill and another overbearing, controlling choir mom. Ah, the memories.)

If I was OHS’ attorney, I would have told them to cut Mr. Bill loose, pronto. Talk about a liability problem. Besides, if they fired him it would have been a special moment for the choir kids. He could have turned out the lights to sing “Go Ye Now In Peace,” which might have given him one last chance at some out-of-sight lap time.

Therapy session is over. Thanks for listening.

17 04 2010
Danessa

Didn’t go to school with you but EWWW!!! Is it totally sad that I can believe that you would be reprimanded and not him? Our society is so awesome that way.
I tell you what though….ANYONE does that to my girls and they die.

17 04 2010
rachel

does the fact that i laughed while reading this make me a bad person? i wasn’t laughing at pedophilia, though. just at your delightfully witty turn of phrase. mr. bill is officially creepy.

18 04 2010
boquinha

I’m a big fan of “No means no” in pretty much ALL cases. So yeah, Mr. Bill was so so so totally in the wrong. I can’t really think of a situation in which it would be considered appropriate for him to ignore your “no” and pull you in anyway. Sick and wrong.

18 04 2010
Peter

Oh, and I wish Show & Chamber had at least been a teensy bit like “Glee.” Alas.

19 04 2010
Heidi

Yup. I heard about that. I have no idea how I escaped being any kind of target for anyone in high school, but I’m glad I did. And I’m sorry that you didn’t. “Mr. Bill” taught me some good things and gave me a chance in choir (which changed my life, really), but I’m glad I haven’t seen him since then.

I’m glad you wrote about this. It’s inspired me to teach my children (whenever I happen to actually have them) to stand up for themselves, and it’s inspired me to go to the mat for them as well.

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