This gent was suave and debonair. “World’s Most Interesting Man.” Just who was he, you ask? Why none other than Mr. Chuck Stewart- a ten year old boy who happens to be one of my former D.A.R.E. students.
D.A.R.E. or Drug Abuse Resistance Education was an intensive 15 week program that taught fifth grade students how to recognize and resist the pressures to use drugs and join gangs. During the 16 years I taught the program, I had the pleasure of meeting some real characters in the classroom and had many, many laughs along the way.
A lot of elementary and middle schools currently promote “Character Counts,” a program which among other things, rewards students for being trustworthy, responsible and respectful. Characters, or people with that certain personality or pizzazz, make the world a fun place and provide laughs. Mr. Chuck Stewart, as he liked to be addressed, was definitely one of the biggest characters!
Although the incident occurred in the mid 1990’s, it seems like only yesterday. On that particular day, Chuck, who was usually joking around and being a general distraction, appeared to be preoccupied and unusually quiet. Class had just begun and I was writing on the chalkboard when I was startled by a very loud blast.
Growing up in a house with five boys, it became readily apparent that someone had passed gas. In fact, the sound was so powerful it caused me to drop the chalk as I was writing.
Slowly and deliberately, I turned around to face the students with an angry expression on my face. I then observed a quiet, wide-eyed Mr Chuck Stewart sitting very rigidly in his front row chair, staring straight ahead. Because of his “Character” status he was assigned a front row seat.
Judging by Chuck’s body language, it wasn’t too difficult to figure out who the culprit was. Chuck’s classmates flanked him on both sides. With their squinting eyes and crinkled up noses, it was obvious the pungent aroma had just arrived.
Both students were too overwhelmed by the odor to snitch on him in direct contrast was the rest of the class sitting at their desks behind him. They were more than happy to give Chuck up as they all held their noses and pointed directly at his back. The classroom fell silent as they waited for my reaction.
Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock. I scanned the class and borrowing a line from Rodney Dangerfield’s “Caddyshack” movie-”Did someone step on a duck!?” The students burst into laughter. Chuck then breathed a huge sigh of relief. He looked relieved, both literally and figuratively speaking. It took at least ten minutes to regain control of the classroom. So much for my authority!
After class, I was in the office visiting with the Principal when I saw Chuck sitting in the nurse’s office. He was bent over holding his stomach and appeared to be in extreme pain.
I asked Chuck if he was alright. Through clinched teeth and labored breathing he said “ No Officer Popp, I had some Lucky Charms for breakfast.” I said “Chuck, aren’t they supposed to be magically delicious?” He said “ Not if you’re lactose intolerant and put milk on them!”
During the past 15 years, I’ve run into a grown up Mr. Chuck Stewart, on a number of occasions. Upon recognizing me, Chuck smiles and starts shaking his head in anticipation of a question he knows is coming.
I immediately say, “Hello my old friend Mr. Chuck Stewart, I got just one question for you.
“What’s that Officer Popp?”