Mike Maloof

Brian Maloof is the owner of the legendary Manuel’s Tavern in Atlanta. Sadly, his brother Mike Maloof passed away Saturday at age 72.

Mike was an accomplished defense attorney, and years ago he had a run-in with Sean Hannity, who was then an Atlanta-based radio host. Brian’s Facebook post remembering his brother recounts the encounter.

Claudette Harty (Spring 1997)

I attended McIntosh High School in Peachtree City, Georgia from the fall of 1995 through the spring of 1999. Overall, it was a pretty great experience, and to this day many of my classmates remain great friends. One of them is Jared. As I type this, I’m currently somewhere over Oklahoma and heading to Scottsdale, Arizona for his bachelor party.

Of course you can’t have the sweet without the sour. There were some things about McIntosh that were less than ideal. One of those was a teacher named Claudette Harty. She taught Speech, and unless you were in band, chorus, or drama, her class was a required course.

Ms. Harty had a terrible reputation amongst the students. She was mean and wouldn’t hesitate to issue detention for unruly behavior or poor marks for what she considered a bad speech. She had no respect for the students, and the students absolutely had no respect for her. Not helping her was her appearance. She looked fucking ancient – white hair, shrunken stature, wrinkles, and more. Everybody thought she’d die any moment, and everybody was looking forward to it with glee.

An example – I had a good friend who was a year older than me who was deeply religious. He attended church on Sundays and Wednesdays, and he was active in Young Life, a non-denominational Christian organization targeted towards high schoolers. He was friendly, outgoing, and cared for others. He wanted Ms. Harty to die before he was forced to take Speech.

* * * * *

I ended up taking Speech my sophomore year. Ms Harty lived up to her reputation. There was one girl in my class who didn’t take her shit. Ms. Harty one time gave her detention for leaving her backpack in the walkway between desks. The next day, she did the same thing and got detention again. And then the next day, the exact thing happened again followed by the next day and the next. It got to the point where the girl refused to give assigned speeches. She failed. She had to take Ms. Harty’s class again.

Personally, I flew under the radar, did the work, and ended up with an A-. The only trouble I ran into was with the first speech. We were supposed to interview somebody we knew, and we had to give a five-minute speech on what we learned. Ms. Harty insisted we use note cards to deliver our speech, and she instructed us to use a specific bullet-point format within our notes. I ended up not interviewing anybody. Instead, I read an article on slaughter-house workers, and I made-up my notes from there. They were great!

The next day, we were give our interview speeches. I sat down at my assigned desk and panicked. My note cards were not in my backpack. They’d disappeared. I never ended up finging them.

The speeches were to be given over the next two days because there were so many students in class. I had a 50/50 chance I would be in the clear and felt lucky.

Ms. Harty called on me first.

I fished some blank note cards out of my bag, walked to the front, and stood behind the podium. The slaughter-house article had fascinated me so much that I amazingly remembered every detail I wanted to include in my speech. I started talking, occasionally glancing down and shuffling through my empty cards. My points were articulate. I was confident, and I was having a good time  talking about how the man I’d interviewed was responsible for placing a bolt into the cow’s head. I finished my speech right at five minutes, and then I took my seat and panicked again, knowing I’d turn in blank notes.

Ms. Harty didn’t ask for our note cards that day. I scored a 97, the highest grade I’d receive for a speech.

It remains one of my proudest moments.

* * * * *

Later that spring, Ms. Harty announced she was retiring. Those who hadn’t yet taken her class celebrated.

Ms. Harty administered her final exam just hours before the Class of 97’s graduation ceremony. After she collected the tests, she packed her things, closed the classroom door behind her, and was officially done as a teacher. She walked through the lobby, exited through the school’s front doors, and then proceeded towards the teacher parking lot. It was then that she collapsed and started convulsing on the ground. I wasn’t there to witness it, but the rumor was that students circled around her and started cheering “Die! Die! Die!” as a major heart attack took her life.

* * * * *

No mention of Ms. Harty’s passing was made that evening at graduation. It was for the best. Whenever us students would talk about what had happened, there was no remorse that we wanted her dead and then got our wish. A friend of mine bragged her car had blocked the ambulance from getting to her. The only remorse came from my Christian friend, but that was only because he’d bitten the bullet and taken Speech during Ms. Harty’s last semester. If he’d waited for his senior year, he would have been in the clear.

The following fall there was a blood drive in her honor. I ended up going not to necessarily honor Ms. Harty but because giving blood is important. It was there I learned that Ms. Harty was actually in her late 50s despite appearances. If she’d made it to her car and driven off campus, she would have had a comfortable retirement with a man she was about to marry. I only know this because he was at the blood drive. He was nice. He shook my hand. He thanked me for coming.

* * * * *

I haven’t thought a lot about Ms. Harty over the years but occasionally share her passing as one of those you-won’t-believe-what-happened-at-my-high-school stories. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve tried to recognize her as a human being that had people that loved her. But it’s a struggle because I then remember her as a mean woman. She seemed to take delight in making us unnecessarily miserable, and for that, she can go fuck herself.

Does that make me a bad person?

* * * * *

My plane is about to touch down in Phoenix, and I’m about to see Jared and many of my friends from high school again. Jared is marrying a girl from our McIntosh days. He recently posted a photo on his wedding website that has them posing in front of out old school. I’m going to text him a doctored version of that photo with a caption that says “Ms. Harty died here.”

“Little Dennis And The Time Machine”

A short story in 100 words.

“What you got there, faggot?”

Dennis clutched the Walkman against his chest. “An old tape player.”

The bully lunged. Eyes fixed on the device, he didn’t notice Dennis’s fist. The punch crashed hard across his face. Bleeding, the bully regained his balance. Dennis quickly rewound the tape and pressed play.

“What you got there, faggot?”

Dennis clutched the Walkman against his chest. “An old tape player.”

The bully lunged. Eyes fixed on the device, he didn’t notice Dennis’s fist. The punch crashed hard across his face. Bleeding, the bully regained his balance. Dennis smiled, rewound the tape, and pressed play.

MC Hammer (Fall 2000)

During my freshman year of college, my friend Eric casually asked me if I had any interest in visiting his church.

I had no interest in visiting his church.

When we were sophomores, he asked me again. Before I could say no, he added “M.C. Hammer is going to be a guest speaker next Sunday.”

I was interested in visiting his church.

When I was 10 and 11 years old, I really liked this Atlanta radio station called Power 99. They played a lot of M.C. Hammer. By default, I became an M.C. Hammer fan. I liked “U Can’t Touch This”. I liked the song he did for The Addams Family movie. I even watched his cartoon a couple times.

While M.C. Hammer spent most of the 90s wasting his fortune on gaudy mansions, blinged-out cars, and race horses, Power 99 became 99X. My taste in music progressed with the new alternative radio format, and my teen years brought cynicism to the M.C. Hammer persona and parachute pants. The idea of seeing him in person, though, excited the kid in me. I couldn’t wait for church. Then I got sick.

I first felt the lump in the back of my throat on Thursday morning. By that evening I had a runny nose and bad cough. I barely made it through my Friday classes, and on Saturday I spent the whole day in bed battling what turned out to be a nasty case of the flu. A small part of me considered not going. The rest of me was more than determined to see things through.

I didn’t sleep at all the night before church. I knew if I did, I wouldn’t make it. I took pills and drank fluids to mask how I felt. By the time the sun finally brought the morning, I felt out of body.

The phone rang around 8:30. Eric wanted to know if I could drive us both to the service. He had a car and knew I was sick. I still don’t know why he asked and I agreed.

We were in my car and exiting campus. I asked Eric for directions to his church. “Make your way to the Interstate,” he said. “Once we cross town and get on it, it’s about a forty minute drive.”

I thought he was joking.

He wasn’t.

My hands trembling and grasping the steering wheel, we finally pulled into the church parking lot. I was sure M.C. Hammer was responsible for the lack of available spots. We parked far from the building. Once we made it inside, well-dressed young folk were standing around the lobby. Seizing the opportunity, Eric and I bypassed the crowd and made our way into the sanctuary. The room was spacious, filled with row after row of wooden pews. A slightly elevated stage anchored the front, and a theater-like black curtain hung from the ceiling. We grabbed third-row seats. As people filed in, I said something to the effect of, “I’ve been looking forward to this all week. I’ve been so sick.”

I’m sure Eric heard what I said, but it wasn’t for him.

The service began. A man in his 40s who I figured was the regular pastor approached the podium perched on the right of the stage. In a boisterous tone he wished everyone a good morning and launched into some general announcements. Not caring what he was saying, I glanced around the room to see if I could spot M.C. Hammer anywhere in the wings or in the front row. I had no luck.

The man finished his remarks that were brief but felt too long. After he gathered his notes and walked off stage, the overhead lights suddenly went out. Multicolored lasers cut through the darkness. M.C. Hammer’s song “Pray” started playing over the sanctuary’s speakers, and four high school girls dressed in black tights ran out through the center of the curtains. The crowd started clapping. I started clapping. The girls smiled and started dancing poorly.

“Ladies and gentleman!” An enthusiastic voice roared over the music. “It’s time to give a big welcome to…. M.C. Hammer!”

I want to say that everybody rose to their feet. I want to say that the crowd went wild as M.C. Hammer triumphantly made his way onto the stage, raised his arms, and soaked in the crowd. I really, really wish I could say all of that happened. Instead, everybody remained in their seats as a little boy who couldn’t have been older than eight busted through the curtains. He was wearing an M.C. Hammer outfit with chains and sunglasses. He did a couple of dance moves. He pointed to the air and for some reason let out a Michael Jackson yell.

Everyone in the pews started laughing like it was the funniest thing they’d ever seen. Some guy sitting a few spots to the left of me actually keeled over.

The sanctuary lights went back up. The little boy ran over to the girls and gave each of them a high five, and as they ran off stage, the speakers blared like the voice of God, “Ladies and gentleman, Little M.C. Hammer!”

I turned to Eric. I wanted to start cursing but instead started coughing. He immediately began apologizing and thought M.C. Hammer was actually going to be there.

I continued coughing.