High School English with Mr. Obadiah

Mon 01.10.11 | 5 comments

Oh, what a delicious story!

Words I had heard almost daily during my junior year at LaSalle Academy, when I had an English course with Mr. Silas Obadiah.

Mr. Obadiah went by many names: Mr. O, Obie, and Obie-Doobie-Doo. He was a short, ageless man with the face of a cherub, who spoke with a thick Nigerian accent. Mr. O was always fairly laid back and he would often giggle like a schoolgirl after he spoke. He was either wrapped in a nice, subdued suit or a vibrant dashiki. He taught English at LaSalle Academy, but was also a full time professor of anthropology at RIC. I don’t actually recall what I learned in his class, but I know he encourage creativity, for which I am grateful.

Mr. O was not a fan of troublemakers or those “pregnant with problems.” I, however, fell into his favor. Mr. O let me get away with writing some ridiculous shit. One time he went out of his way to tell me what a wonderful student I was. Mr. O chirped that I was such a good student, I did not have to adhere to the assigned seating; I could sit anywhere. I asked if I could sit at this desk or that desk or – even – the light fixture.

“Ooooh yes Mr. HaitchPeeea, you can sit on de light fixture. Yeeeees.”

Obie certainly had a way with words. He referred to just about everything as “delicious.” This test was delicious. That student was delicious. Mr. O was delicious. If he caught you peaking at another student’s answers, he would accuse you of “giraffing.” I had a friend in class with a long Italian last name, who had a penchant for making animal noises at random intervals and generally being a bit disruption. Unable to pronounce his last name, Obie would tell him, “Oh, Mr. San Fransisco, you are pregnant with problems.”

LaSalle Academy was a Catholic school and as such, before each class we had a prayer period. Like little teenage robots, we would mutter “Saint John Baptist de LaSalle, pray for us.” Obie would then delight us with some sort of parable that no one would understand, but we all loved to hear. For example, Obie would produce a crude drawing of an onion on the blackboard and utter these meaningful words:

Todaaaaay, I want to praaaaay. For. Dah onion.

See? Da onion. Has many… laaaayers.

That was the entire prayer.

Mr O had stories about everything. Peer pressure, babies, and pigs. I was always a fan of the Tale About The Dog Who Was Almost Hanged.

There once was a group of children playing in a village (oh ho ho). And they were so happy and they played and one day they found a puuuuuppy (ooooh). So they played with the puppyyyy. They ran with th’ puppyyy and they played fetch with th’ pupppyyyyyyyyyy.

Then one of th’ little boys said “Oh let’s hang th’ puppy!” And everyone cheered “Yes yes! Hang him hang him!”  Little Silas kept saying “No, don’t hang the puppy. No, not the puppy.”

Sooo they hung the puppy.

And Silas came back a minute later and cut him down and him and the puppy were friends forever. So, this is about peer pressure and if you see someone doing drugs: Run. Away.

Another fan favorite story (that no one can seem to quite recall the point of) was about the pig and the baby. The gist was this: a woman set her baby down at a barbecue and a pig ate it. There was also the time that when Obie was at Brown University, where he saw a hawk steal a baby squirrel.  He sat there all day and waited, but when the hawk did not bring the baby squirrel back, Obie was sad. This is what we would pray for. Or about? Or against? I think.

Mr. Obadiah’s personal life was a mystery to us. We would ask him about his girlfriend and Mr. O would insist he was married. We would ask him about his wife and Mr. O would insist he was dating a dozen women. Eventually we assumed he was a polygamist. Regardless of his situation, it was impossible to get a straight answer out of him.

Q: Mr. O, it was St Patty’s day yesterday, how much Guinness did you drink?
A: 4 Kegs.

Q: Mr. O, it was Valentine’s day yesterday, what did you do with your girlfriend?
A: She died.

Q: Mr. O, how many babies have you killed?
I never counted.

As a sophomore in college, I returned to LaSalle Academy to visit some of my old teachers. I ran into Mr. Obadiah – still as cheery as ever – and had a nice chat. We even traded email addresses, but he never replied to my email. I guess the only solace I have is the Mr. Obadiah Fan Club on Facebook.

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  • Carl done said:

    That might be the best post you’ve put up.

  • Sarah done said:

    Good story, HP! 🙂

  • Mike done said:

    I loved it!! I was the student with the long last name!!!! This captured Mr. O completely.

  • david done said:

    I’m a causing of Mr O. I’m pleased to hear nice things about my cousin. he has been away for too long, he probably wouldn’t know me

  • Mike done said:

    If you have Mr O. in class now, ask him about the Keg Brothers

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