“He taught me everything I know.”
“He's gay. He gave me an F because I didn't read some gay book!”
“What an influence! Such a great man should be idolized”
Francis Winkler Jr., son of Francis Baisley Winkler and Edna Mae Winkler (and the father of Henry Winkler), is a simple American schoolteacher. He enjoys hot tea in the winter and bluegrass under the night sky, and is known for the relative ease of his assignments, his patented beige-and-puce scarf pattern, and his near-professional homosexuality. An incident at a Kansas middle school involving a disgruntled student made him nationally famous, and his name became a common utterance, even going so far as to be adopted into some languages as a word meaning "One who is boring, but has his moments."
Born in 1953 in Los Angeles, Winkler lived with Francis and Edna in a small suburban home for most of his childhood. He led a more or less ordinary boy's life; he was a member of the local Little League team from 1960-1966, and he joined the Boy Scouts of America at age 11. He graduated from high school with a 3.42 GPA and his virginity. He attended the University of California from 1968 until 1974, earning a degree in education; Winkler had always enjoyed teaching young people. He took his talents all over the country, eventually deciding to settle down in Wichita, Kansas with a position at the local middle school teaching English Composition. And since Winkler is only known for the following incident, we really don't care about the rest of his life. Except the fact that afterwards his parents were concerned about his very peculiar lean towards homosexuality.
On Friday, November 2nd, 2007, Winkler assigned the book From Hater to Homo: Understanding and Accepting Your Inner Flame to his seventh-grade English class. He stated explicitly that the book was to be read by the 13th, the Wednesday after next, and assigned a short book review to be turned in on that day. Ordinarily students did not have a problem with Winkler's assignments, and for the most part, this was no exception. However, one student, Arnold Roberts, did not turn in the report on time; he had not even acquired a copy of the book. Misfortune was the downfall of young Arnold; his parents had been involved in a terrible baking accident the previous week, and he had been out of school in order to help with the reconstruction and caring for his parents.
Upon arriving at school on Wednesday, Arnold learned of the assignment and that it was due. Concerned, he went to Mr. Winkler's office before class to politely request an extension, and to give his reason for not having a complete book review. However, Winkler refused to hear him out and gave him an F in the class. Arnold left the office quietly and proceeded to first period, Physical Education. Halfway through the warm-up routine, while quietly contemplating what had just occurred, Arnold became so enraged that he escaped the gym and fled to the nearest boy's bathroom. Locking himself into a stall, he proceeded to bite his finger and, in his own blood, scrawl across the door of the stall:
- Yours truly,
The message was discovered mere minutes later, but the perpetrator had already fled the scene. It was immediately posted on the Internet and circulated widely in the next few hours. Soon major news crews were on the scene in the public bathroom, taking photographs, questioning eyewitnesses, and reporting live on the incident. CNN and ABC featured the story at the beginning of their programs and the front pages of their websites. Phone booths were flooded with reporters issuing the generic call to "Stop the presses!" Within thirty-six hours, every household in the nation knew the story of Francis Winkler.
Nationwide opinion was varied. Some were arguably against Winkler's policies and his position as English teacher. Others took Winkler's side, claiming that any student that wrote like that clearly wasn't paying enough attention in class, and that it wasn't the teacher's fault. Still others blamed the school board, the student's parents, the weather, divine will, and even the President. Those people, of course, were widely ignored.
Meanwhile, Winkler continued with his class agenda, completely unaware of the slander against him and its repercussions. Shortly after assigning a half-page Reading Response on the novelization of Steamboat Willie, Winkler was informed by school officials that one of his students had brutally attacked him on the door of a bathroom stall. His response was general indifference, as he continued to read from John Steinbeck's Of Mice And Men while being told of the incident. Later, when approached by reporters, Winkler declined to comment, other than "Hi, Mom. Hope you're doing well. Sending my love." The dismayed reporters attempted to extract more information from him, but the bell rang before they could ask any more questions, and they were summarily dismissed.
After school, Winkler paid a visit to the bathroom and examined the message. Shaking his head and making tut-tut sounds, he took out his red pen, fixed the spelling and grammar mistakes, gave it a D-, and wrote "See me after class" on the margin.
Arnold Roberts was given an in-school suspension for "defacement of school property," and is a very bad boy. He publicly apologized to Winkler on live television, claiming that "the devil made me do it!" Afterwards he served 600 hours of community service and waxed Winkler's car for him. He still never did the book review, though.
Francis Winkler eventually faded away into obscurity. He still teaches English Composition, but also enjoys a periodic dab in History. In his later years he would sit around the fireplace with his grandkids and tell them the story of the incident... that is, if he weren't so ridiculously gay.