Day 37: God Damn It, Mr. Fry

by Eli Hodapp

Last night I stayed up late as hell watching the Republican debates. Every time I find myself thinking, “You know, I’m pretty sure that Rick Santorum can’t get any more crazy,” he does. My favorite thing about Santorum, is he wastes no time in getting on with the crazy. Literally one of his first responses to whatever question was asked detailed the end of all entitlement programs and how military spending will never be cut. This takes the whole “F*@& you, I got mine” mentality to a whole new level of “F*@K you, I got mine, and let’s kill some brown people.” America.

Anyway, today has been pretty busy. We record our podcast on Thursday, so I’ve been rushing to do everything I want to do before committing an hour or so to chatting with Brad and Jared on Skype. This involved a quick trip to the local Irish pub, as after a conversation I had yesterday I was really craving Magners. I’ve always been a fan of hard cider, because how can you not like hard cider. Magners seems especially good though, as they strike such a great balance between not being too sweet while not being too alcoholic. It’s really great.

I had the most ridiculous burger ever for lunch. Yesterday when I went out to tapas with Samaneh and Jonathan, Samaneh mentioned how she better not find out I’ve had a burger while I was here, which, similar to the Magners conversation got the wheels in my head churning thinking just how good a burger sounded. I was just going to order the regular burger, but then I saw the Lighthouse Burger on the menu.

Here’s what is on the Lighthouse Burger, which as I understand it is sort of a traditional irish thing: A top sesame seed bun, a thick coating of mayonaise, a sunny side up fried egg, thick cut English bacon, sautéed mushrooms, a massive slice of melty cheddar cheese, hash brown potatoes, a 4oz burger patty, a thick slice of tomato, a bed of lettuce, even more mayo, and the bottom bun. When the bartender served it to me, he said, “Here’s your heart attack.” It was delicious.

The bartender at this pub is an incredibly cool guy, in that while he might seem like your typical old drunk Irish guy, he’s remarkably well read and seems to have an intelligent and well researched opinion on just about everything. Somehow the topic of the Euro came up, along with the state of Greece. He believes, per some books he cited, that the whole existence of the Euro and the European debt crisis has been orchestrated by the Germans.

It was a shockingly convincing argument that I’m not sure I can recount in its entirety here, but apparently when the Euro went online, Germany went crazy offering credit to anyone who wanted it except Germans. If this is true, what this has resulted in is this massive credit crunch for countries which now will eternally be in debt to Germany. As part of the debt settlement, Germany is going to end up owning all of these utility companies and holding claim to a lot of the Greek infrastructure.

If this is to believed, the plan all along with Germany pushing the Euro was to essentially loan shark the entire continent, ruin the financial health of everything, and in the process leave all of Europe fighting for the scraps off Germany’s plate. I guess that seems… Reasonable? If there’s one thing I’ve learned about Irish pubs in Barcelona, it’s that the staff (and patrons) love a good conspiracy theory. So, who knows.

In other news, I got an entirely unexpected email today from either the wife or daughter of a former teacher I had at Oswego High School. This requires some backstory.

About a year ago, I heard that my high school English teacher had taken a leave of absence to deal with sexual abuse allegations from a student. I never really got anything more than the vaguest of details, but my gut reaction to the whole thing basically amounted to, “Eh, I could see it.”

The internal conflict of this whole thing has to do with the fact that of my academic career, if you’d even call it that, I’d say there were three major influences that played a large part of who I am today. Mrs. Posmer who taught the “gifted” English class in junior high, Mrs. Phelps who I had several science classes with in high school, and Mr. Fry who taught American literature and was the faculty sponsor for the Oswego High School writing club.

The impact these three people had on my life didn’t really even have anything to do with what was specifically taught in the class room, but instead, the influence they had “between the lines” so to speak. It’s hard to even cite specific instances, as influence is such an intangible thing. I’d almost say these teachers taught how to think, not what to think, as the most succinct way of describing it, which I’d argue is the most important thing a teacher could ever teach a student. Either way, these three people are just as responsible for who I am as an adult as my parents and other major role models in my life.

So, when I say that I’d really love to do whatever I can to take the stand and help Mr. Fry out as a character witness, I mean it.

Unfortunately, the all-too-believable sexual abuse charges eventually wound up in him being found guilty, and subsequent Google searches reveal he’s basically been held in jail waiting for sentencing since sometime last year. The details of the case that I’ve been able to surmise from piecing together newspaper articles, as I knew Mr. Fry, seems completely plausible, beyond believable, and entirely too calculated to be coincidental. If the evidence is to be believed, he waited until the girl in question turned seventeen, which is the age of consent in Illinois… Then he proceeded to bombard her with over seven hundred text messages over the course of their “relationship.”

I feel bad for Mr. Fry, but I don’t know how bad you can feel for someone who puts themselves in that sort of situation. You could easily argue that the whole case against him could be entirely circumstantial and the verdict could be a product of the overzealous witch hunts that always seem to occur with these kind of allegations. But, come on. As a teacher, or really any public figure that works with children, you’ve got to draw that line somewhere regarding relationships with students.

That line is far, far before sending seven hundred text messages, even if the rest of it isn’t true.

I hate to say he “deserves” whatever punishment he gets at his upcoming sentencing, that if I agreed to it, I’d be a character witness at. But someone that’s over fifty years old and has a career as an educator really should know better. I’m not even passing personal judgement on whether or not the allegations themselves are true that he’s been found guilty of, but rather, just that he even put himself in this situation to begin with.

So, in the end, I’m not even sure I’m going to respond. The court appearance would be during GDC, which I can’t make anyway, and I can’t in good conscience writer a letter commending the character of Mr. Fry when I saw more than a few things during my time at Oswego High School that could easily been described as “border-line”. You rarely ever think of things like that when it’s actually taking place, especially as a teacher makes himself out as a friend rather than a superior, but still.

It’s sad, really unfortunate, and seemingly depressingly common these days.