We Don’t Need No Education

March 19, 1999

Recently I was reading some short essays by people remembering teachers who changed their lives, and decided it was time I should stand up for the teachers who, with their extraordinary lack of dedication and ineptitude, make absolutely no difference in the lives of everyone. Coach Tiddle was just such a teacher. I have no idea what he was a coach of–maybe it was an honorary title. At my high school, male teachers seemed uncomfortable with the title "Mister", so after the school day was over they would all go stand around by the football field and become honorary coaches. During the day, Coach Tiddle taught geometry, which is appropriate, since he was an almost perfect sphere. Coach Tiddle only taught geometry in the sense that he guided us through what was in the textbook. Questions were to be directed to Miss Arkham down the hall who helped the Math Team win a Good Effort award every year at the local Math Mania Marathon. It was in the spouting of peculiar bits of wisdom that Coach Tiddle really excelled. The first day he explained to us why we had a dress code using himself as an example. "I’m a big hairy man. If I came in wearing just shorts and sneakers, it would be kind of distracting." I kept this and other aphorisms in a thick notebook under the title "Tiddle’s Tidbits". Unfortunately most of these pearls are lost now, along with what little I learned about geometry, but here are a few I still remember:

"Leonard, would you please close the window? The air conditioner isn’t big enough to cool the outside. Maybe we can get a bigger one to do that."

"You’ll notice that this is an isosceles triangle. Those are really hard to climb."

"How do we measure from Point A to Point B? We could have somebody walk it, but there’s probably a river with piranhas, alligators, and sewage in the way."

"The best thing you can do with a cone is fill it up with ice cream. I like strawberry, chocolate, and homemade peach. My favorite is pralines and cream."

"Why do we even have obtuse angles? If I were an angle, I’d want to be right, or acute. Obtuse sounds like something nasty."

"I’m 43. That’s a prime number. I thought about getting a t-shirt that said, ‘Proud To Be Prime’, but in three months I won’t be able to wear it."

Maybe Coach Tidwell didn’t teach me much about geometry, but he taught me a bigger, much more important lesson. I’ll let you know when I figure out what that lesson was.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


Don’t squat with your spurs on.

Don’t interfere with something that ain’t botherin’ you none.

Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.

The easiest way to eat crow is while it’s still warm. The colder it gets, the harder it is to swaller.

If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin’.

If it don’t seem like it’s worth the effort, it probably ain’t.

It don’t take a genius to spot a goat in a flock of sheep.

The biggest troublemaker you’ll probably ever have to deal with watches you shave his face in the mirror every morning.

Never ask a barber if you need a haircut.

If you get to thinkin’ you’re a person of some influence, try orderin’ somebody else’s dog around.

Don’t worry about bitin’ off more’n you can chew; your mouth is probably a whole lot bigger’n you think.

Always drink upstream from the herd.

Generally, you ain’t learnin’ nothing when your mouth’s a-jawin’.

Tellin’ a man to git lost and makin’ him do it are two entirely different propositions.

If you’re ridin’ ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it’s still there with ya.

Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment.

When you give a personal lesson in meanness to a critter or to a person, don’t be surprised if they learn their lesson.

When you’re throwin’ your weight around, be ready to have it thrown around by somebody else.

Lettin’ the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin’ it back.

Always take a good look at what you’re about to eat. It’s not so important to know what it is, but it’s sure crucial to know what it was.

The quickest way to double your money is to fold it over and put it back into your pocket.

Never miss a good chance to shut up.

ON TESCO’S TIRAMISU DESERT – Do not turn upside down. (Printed on the bottom of the box.)

ON MARKS & SPENCER BREAD PUDDING – Product will be hot after heating

ON PACKAGING FOR A ROWENTA IRON – Do not Iron clothes on body

ON BOOTS CHILDREN’S COUGH MEDICINE – Do not drive car or operate machinery

ON NYTOL (A SLEEP AID) – Warning: may cause drowsiness

ON A KOREAN KITCHEN KNIFE – Warning: keep out of children

ON A STRING OF CHINESE MADE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS – For indoor or outdoor use only.

ON A JAPANESE FOOD PROCESSOR – Not to be used for the other use.

ON SAINSBURY’S PEANUTS – Warning: contains nuts

ON AN AMERICAN AIRLINES PACKET OF NUTS – Instructions: open packet, eat nuts.

ON A SWEDISH CHAINSAW – Do not attempt to stop chain with your hands.

ON A PACKET OF SUNMAID RAISINS – Why not try tossing over your favorite breakfast cereal?

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