Is there a today’s equivalent of the old Mutt and Jeff duo? SpongeBob and Patrick? What do you call a dynamic duo of 7th grade boys? These are the kind that drive you batty, but there’s just something about them that makes it hard to get mad at them. Like Ponyboy describes Two-Bit. But they are exasperating at times.

Sometimes the class beats me to shushing one or both of them.

“Would you just be quiet?”

“True that.”

Oh yes, they’re those guys.

I should move them both (they ended up next to each other because of my early-year, alphabetical seating chart), and I probably will soon, but somehow, their banter is rather amusing most of the time. Most of the time. Let’s call them (after an old comic book I have on the wall), Milk and Cheese – Dairy Products Gone Bad.

M and C were bugging the other day, and I was pulling out some of my old-guy-isms. I’m a big fan of expressions like “Dagnabbit” and “Kids Today…” and “No Dice (Cheese Slice).”

“Don’t make me get out of this chair. I’m going to have to go old school Catholic school on you guys.”

“You mean like whacking with a ruler?”

“That would have been a start.” I pointed to the Quiet Stick, with a couple of chunks out of it. (More on the Quiet Stick later.)

“No way! What else?”

The last time I had this conversation was a couple of years ago. We were close to the end of the day, and they were done, and I was done, and…anyway, I was reminiscing about my adventures at St. Mel’s (he was supposedly St. Patrick’s cousin), and such “consequences” as the nose in the circle on the board.

“That was a chalkboard back then, and the dust was brutal, especially toward the end of the day. But the kneel-next-to-your-desk-with-pencils-under-your-knees was the worst.”

The reactions to this one showed the classic junior high range: some (many) thought you somehow had to balance on the pointy ends (OMG), some thought I was making it up, some screamed “child abuse,” and some geniuses dropped to their knees and tried it.

Of course these shmarties immediately make a couple of claims. The first is that it doesn’t hurt, and the second is that “it’s fun!”

“Talk to me in 20 minutes.”

So now I have about 6 or 8 of them on their knees on pencils, clicking in their test answers from beside their desks, and claiming they’re enjoying it (while also asking how long it’s been). After a while, a couple more are asking if they can put their noses on the board.

By the end of the period, the kneelers are limping out with indentations in their knees, with the pencils still stuck in some of them.

I didn’t go there this time.