I didn’t really know my good friend Jeff very well back in our middle school days. It was years later in high school that we would become buddies and he would share some of his stories of mischievous adventure from those days. I did know of him though in Middle School and witnessed some of his antics from afar. It was hard to avoid seeing Jeff getting in trouble since he got in hot water most of the time back then. Jeff recalled for me something he did in 7th grade at Daniel K. Reading-Fleming Middle School, which was known to everyone affectionately as “DKR”. Although I did not witness this incident he told me about, it was so profound, that Jeff should have been immortalized by a plaque or something, that is if someone had had the wherewithal to do so. For this act I’m about to describe to you, it must be noted that this is part of DKR legend. Honestly, there probably is some kind of mounted plaque or statue commemorating what he did. Here is the story Jeff told me about his infamous “Power” which was corroborated by many other witnesses.
The clocks at DKR were all on some kind of synchronized timer system. It was an old system but a consistent timing mechanism we all relied upon for ending classes and moving on to the next class period. At the end of every class, the clocks all let out a clear RRRRRINNGG. However, at exactly 1:50pm and only during the last class of the day, all of the clocks gave off an inexplicable muffled mmm-uuu-vvvuuzzz. This sound had no official status or meaning. It just simply happened. The buzz was one of those mundane repetitive occurrences which we all knew was probably due to some kind of technical issue, but no one cared enough to fix. At 1:50pm every day, the clocks would all buzz for about five seconds and everyone just took this for granted. However, Jeff was bored as he often was during those years at DKR. One day, Jeff noticed the “buzz” and decided to make it something more than it was. No one knows the exact day it happened that school year, but the clock buzzed as usual at 1;50pm and with dramatically raised hands in a spasmodic manner towards the clock, Jeff simply uttered in a whisper…”P-O-W-E-R!”. His friends around him laughed and some of the kids in the class who noticed what he did also chuckled or else rolled their eyes in disdain. Whether it was amusement or disapproval, that was Jeff’s inspiration for a repeat. The next day, Jeff did it again, raising his hands dramatically at the clock at 1:50pm and said, “Power!”. Mr. Bygott, the hapless principle then at DKR, was teaching Jeff’s class. He had already dealt Jeff several detentions that year and was in no mood to tolerate any more of Jeff’s antics. By perhaps the third or fourth time that Jeff did “Power”, the class had become noticeably distracted. Some classmates were doing a whispered countdown…”5 minutes to Power!… 1 minute to Power!… 30 seconds!”. Mr. Bygott had had enough and warned Jeff to stop the disruption. After all, it was 1:50pm and there was still twenty minutes left in the class. Jeff of course disregarded Mr. Bygott’s threat and did it anyway. For the rest of that year, Jeff would do “Power” and Mr. Bygott would give him detention. Jeff would set a record that year for the most detentions in one school year (another DKR legendary achievement). Jeff’s record would be eclipsed the very next year however by classmate Scott Collister who was determined to get a detention every day. Collister very nearly accomplished that feat, but regardless would surpass Jeff’s total detentions by perhaps one or two to claim a new record. It is doubtful to this day if anyone has reached the detention heights of what Jeff and Scott achieved.
Anyway, we fast forward to the last day of 7th grade that year. Jeff had amassed many detention sessions by then with Mr. Bygott due to Power and other issues. On this final day of school, Mr. Bygott unwittingly immortalized Jeff’s disruptive act, transforming it from an annoying antic to institutional history. In front of the whole class, Mr. Bygott warned Jeff that if he “did Power” one more time, that he would be given two weeks of detention at the beginning of next year. By actually stating Jeff’s act as “Power”, Mr. Bygott had unintentionally transformed Power in to a fixture of DKR lore. Jeff realized this. Up until the final seconds before 1:50pm, Jeff had actually made up his mind not to do Power that day. He was tired of detentions and certainly didn’t want to start off 8th grade once again in Mr. Bygott’s office. However, as the final seconds arrived before the clock struck that momentous time, Jeff felt everyone’s eyes upon him. Because of Mr. Bygott’s threat to Jeff including detention for anyone that encouraged him, there was no final countdown from anyone. Nonetheless for Jeff, this moment had come down to either enduring more detention or confronting the massive weight of peer disappointment. At that final second of decision, Jeff felt a pang of impending unbearable regret. The universe would somehow be diminished for sure if he didn’t do Power this last time on this last day of school. But Jeff decided too that if he was to suffer detention for this, he should really “go for it” and make this particular fit of power memorable. When the clock struck 1:50pm and the famous buzz began, Jeff hesitated for just a split second and then screamed at the top of his lungs…”P-O-W-E-RRRRRRR!!!!”. As Jeff kept screaming this over and over, he bolted up and ran about the room, knocking over chairs and finally falling to the floor, all the while never taking his eyes off the infamous clock with hands upraised and yelling that one word that described his momentary hysteria. The class of course was in total pandemonium and cheers. Then, the buzzing stopped and the moment of Power had finally ended…. and oh yes, Mr. Bygott slapped Jeff with two weeks of detention for the beginning of the Fall in 8th grade.
As an epilogue, it is important to note that though Jeff reported for detention that first day of school that Fall, Mr. Bygott out of disgust or perhaps mental exhaustion, told Jeff not to come back for any more detentions. The Power was simply too much for the principle of Daniel K. Reading Middle School. Legends can do that perhaps.