Monday, January 23, 2006


How would one describe Todd Zinn? Grumpy? That's a start.

Todd was the kind of guy who always seemed to have a chip on his shoulder. Whenever you saw him, he seemed to be stomping around in a bad mood. I don't know know what it was. But he was someone that I tried to avoid as much as possible. You got the impression, that if you joked around with him, he would inevitably take it the wrong way, and get pissed off. A pissed-off Todd usually meant a punch in the arm - or incessant verbal threats.

My first memories from Todd are from 7th grade. One day after school, I found myself in Mrs. Westburg's detention. I was there a lot. I was rarely alone. On this day, Randy Ertman strolled in, and threw his knapsack across the aisle, knocking over the chair next to me. He meant no harm to me or anyone. He was just annoyed at being there. He picked his stuff up a few seconds later.

Well, Mrs. Westburg came back in the room, noticed the tipped chair, and told me to pick it up. I said "No, I didn't do it." She surmised that it must have been me, as I was sitting next to it. It was no big deal. So I eventually relented, and picked it up. I certainly wasn't about to tell on Randy. I wouldn't tell on anyone, under most circumstances.

Well, Todd Zinn (who was a few seats down, on my right) took great offense to my stance, and felt it was his duty to defend Randy. Keep in mind, Randy was one of the biggest guys around. He didn't need anyone's help, nor was he looking for it. And as far as I knew, he could care less about Todd. Still, Todd clearly wanted to make a positive impression on Randy (suck-up). So a few minutes later, when someone turned out the lights, Todd said to me, "Your ass is grass." When Mrs. Westburg walked down the hall to turn the lights back on, Todd came over and started pounding me. Of course it was winter, and I had a winer coat on. Plus it was dark. So Todd's flailing arms did virtually nothing. Still, I had to wonder what the hell was wrong with this guy.

In our freshman year, I had Todd in gym class. We were doing various activities in the basement gym. One of them included stuff on the rings. There was a box of chalk on the floor. And Mike Zeman (who was incapacitated due to a broken leg (or foot) took one of Todd's shoes, and tossed it into the chalk. Boy, was Todd pissed! He vowed to kill Mike - but only once Mike was off of the crutches. Todd had his pride you know!

Mike was on those crutches for several weeks. All the while, Todd continued to threaten Mike about their impending fight. Mike would just smirk at the situation. But he was a bit intimidated. Eventually Mike got off the crutches. But I don't think anything major happened between the two of them.

One of Todd's distinguishing features was some severe redness in his cheeks. No one dared to ask him about it. Well, that is except Mike Danzy, an inner city ruffian from Milwaukee. Mike was with us our freshman year. Where he went after that is anyone's guess. But he had the nerve to say, "What's up with your face, man?" Todd quietly stated that he'd gotten burned at some point.

My friend Dave once had a conversation with Todd's older sister Tami - class of 1988. She allegedly told Dave that Todd never got burned. I don't recall what Dave told me in regards to the redness. But I think she said it was simply natural - or perhaps acne. Who knows.

I had Todd in Mr. Conrad's sophomore year biology class. I'm not sure who he was talking to. It could have been Ross Hofmann or Tammy Franzen. But for whatever reason, their topic of discussion was centered around taking a shit. Todd went into some real specific details about the wiping process. I distinctly remember him talking about how sometimes a "little piece" hangs there, and how he would try to shake it off. But if that didn't work, he had to go up and get it with toilet paper, and oh man... Todd was laughing. And to tell you the truth, I was laughing too. It was funny as hell. So I guess Todd did have another side to him. He was quite jovial at that moment. How rare.

At some point during our junior year, Todd got pissed off at Richard Wheeler, and was planning to beat him up as well. I even heard him say, "I know where he walks home." To my knowledge, the extent of any "fight" was Todd grabbing Richard and shoving him up against a locker.

The next incident took place in our junior year. I had Todd in Mr. Bonino's gym class. Todd was a bit mouthy. And Mr. Bonino took offense. He literally grabbed Todd by the collar, got in his face, and screamed that he was tired of his shit. Todd was stunned, and backed down completely.

In that same gym class, later in the year, we had swimming. The pool water at the school was notoriously cold. We were required to take a shower prior to jumping in. So Richard and I would end our showers by turning the water on really cold. Then when we jumped in the pool, the water felt warm. One day Todd accidentally walked into my cold water spray. That cost me a punch in the arm. I guess I should have anticipated Todd waltzing into my shower area. What was I thinking?

I ran into Todd a few times at the video store. He never spoke much. I don't recall him smiling either. I wasn't about to pry.

Todd was dating class of 1988's Renee Van Zon. They eventually married, had two kids, and divorced in 2002. Last I knew, he was still in the Manitowoc area - perhaps in Fish Creek.


At Mon Jan 30, 10:17:00 AM PST, Blogger the_meff said...

Not much I can say about ole' Red. I knew to avoid him. I do recall that he wanted to kick Mike Zeman's ass Freshman year but Mike was weasely enough to avoid any altercations.

Wonder if he's cheered up at all over time? Sure seemed to have a nasty old chip on his shoulder...

At Tue Apr 07, 08:23:00 AM PDT, Blogger Emerson said...

Todd did seem to cheer up after a while. Reading this, I am surprised that he was ever a grumpy man. I used to be friends with his step-daughter while in middle school. He is now married to Carolyn LeClair with 2 kids of his own, Marisa and Brandon, and 2 step kids, Jennifer and Kayla.(whose father is Gene LeClair) They have moved to New York in February of 2015


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