By Sam Kerr
On my sixteenth birthday I played Dungeons & Dragons for 56 consecutive hours. Sleep deprivation, owlbears, and mimic monsters disguised as treasure chests were the only sources of stress in my life. Now, I lie to my wife and young children about needing to take a shit so I can hide in the bathroom alone for 10 minutes. I don’t even look at my phone, I just curl up on the floor in the fetal position. That’s my time. If I could go back in time and tell my 16-year-old self one thing it would be to never have sex with anyone. Being a teenage virgin is way, way better than trying to navigate a family and a mortgage in Vancouver in 2017. I hate my job with every cell in my brain but I go to work everyday because I’ve got kids to support. Teenage virgins, on the other hand, can skip class whenever they damn well please.
Time spent skipping class with my friends in high school was not time wasted. My friend Barry lived two blocks from our school and both of his parents worked full time so the house was always empty. Twice a week we’d punt class, go to Barry’s, and play Dungeons & Dragons. It was a mental-health break. Barry didn’t even need to be there; we knew where they hid the key and his mum kept the fridge full. Barry’s pad aside, the best part about skipping class was that we always got away with it. Most teachers were too overworked to scrutinize their students’ spotty attendance so long as a doctor’s note was provided the following day. And notes were easy to come by because there were plenty of Chinese girls with expert penmanship who would fake a note for 10 bucks. By my eye, Cindy Kwan did a better job of my mother’s signature than my mum did.
On a spring day in grade 12, I was in Biology class with Barry and my friend Ben. We needed fake notes. We had skipped block E the previous day and Biology was block D so time was of the essence. I slid a tenner to Cindy Kwan and Old Reliable wrote me a dentist’s appointment. Barry and Ben went to their respective counterfeiters and procured legitimate-sounding excuses of their own. It was just that easy. We brought our notes back to our desks, laughed, and then Barry went to the bathroom—which was a mistake.
Barry’s note, written on lined paper and folded in thirds, was sitting on his desk. Ben grabbed the note, crumpled it into a paper ball, and threw it in the garbage. Then he removed a new piece of lined paper from his book bag and wrote a different note. Then he folded it into thirds and placed it on Barry’s desk.
When Barry returned from the bathroom we played it cool. I made small talk about the Canucks. Ben complimented Barry’s performance as Dungeon Master in a recent campaign. A conversation about the armour class of elven mages emerged. The clock ticked onwards and the note remained on Barry’s desk, unmolested, until finally the class was over.
We walked down the hall to Math 12, taught by Mrs.Brownrigg, a vindictive menopausal tyrant who thought rap music represented society’s decaying moral core. The three of us strolled into the classroom, dropped our notes on Brownrigg’s desk and took our seats in the row beside the window. The bell rang signalling class had begun.
Mrs. Brownrigg entered the classroom and sternly instructed the students to be quiet. She frowned. Scanning the room with a glance, she did roll call and then she collected the small, disorderly stack of notes from her desk and began to read.
Moments later a scowl twisted across her face. Lifting her eyes from the note, Mr. Brownrigg said, “Barrington, what on earth is this?”
“Is this your idea of a sick joke? Because I don’t find it funny at all.”
“Uh, I don’t understand,” said Barry.
“Who wrote this?”
“I don’t think so Barrington,” she said. “Tell me the truth, who wrote it?”
Unaware that his fake note had been rewritten, Barry decided to double down on the lie. “My mother wrote it, you have my word.”
“Do you even know what this says?”
“Of course I do.”
Mrs. Brownrigg exhaled a huff. “Okay smart guy, tell me what the note says.”
By this point, Barry was sweating like a fat girl at a disco. He mumbled for a moment before saying, “It says that I was home sick with migraines. I get migraines sometimes.”
Mrs. Brownrigg shook her head, glanced down at the note, and read it aloud to the class.
To whom it may concern,
Please excuse Barrington’s absence from school on April 17th. He spent the day at home, engaging in a vigorous mutual masturbation session with his brother Craig.