When I was in fourth grade I had a teacher who was the size of Larry Csonka. Her name was Mrs. Hill. She looked like she should’ve been in a ladies’ prison, and called “Big Maude.” It was just a wall of humanity, large but surprisingly fleet of foot. A couple of times during the year she roared at Tammy, a messy little girl, to stand up. Then she grabbed Tammy’s desk and began shaking it violently, like King Kong. All the papers and notebooks and clackers and four-color pens came raining down. Then she bellowed, “Now, clean it up! And be neat about it this time!!” It was fairly terrifying.
I remember seeing Mrs. Hill out of context a few times, and it was also disturbing. At that point in my life I never considered that teachers were real people, who lived out… you know, in the actual world, like everybody else. But I saw Mrs. Hill coming out of a grocery store once, with a cig dangling. Smoking like a goddamn longshoreman. Another time, a few years later, I was out wandering the streets, lookin’ for trouble, and noticed her walking down an alley carrying a 12-pack of beer. She stepped on a rock, rolled an ankle, muttered some profanities, and continued on. She was a hard woman.
But, as amazing as it might seem, she was the fourth grade voice of reason at our school. ‘Cause the other woman who taught that grade was completely out of her mind.
They were trying to prepare us for Jr. High, I think, and made us change classes for reading that year. So, at a certain point every day most of us would go over to the other teacher’s class, and some of her students would come to ours. And she was completely wacked-out.
She would often start the sessions by making each one of us say something nice about another person in the room, in front of everyone. I remember a kid named Billy saying, “Jeff, I like your belt.” Ha! Weird. And after the praising was completed, we’d settle in and listen to her tell us about the high-end dinners she and her husband had at fancy restaurants in Charleston. This segment often took up the remainder of the time.
And how weird is that? She’d go into detail about the food, how it was prepared, the impossible tenderness of the meat, etc. She told us we need to insist on “the finer things,” so it was ostensibly a lesson of some sort. But we were 9 year old hicklet children. We just ate baloney sandwiches, and shit like that. It all felt wildly out of place.
I remember her talking, at length, about cherries jubilee. And when she’d say the words, she’d lapse into some super-affected old money accent, like something out of a movie. Cherries jubilee?! I still don’t know what that is. I’m more of an Oreo Blizzard guy.
And when she wasn’t going on and on about her gourmet meals, she was talking about pinworms. That was another of her favorite subjects. It would usually start with her yelling at someone, “Sit still and quit squirming! What’s the matter with you, do you have pinworms?” WTF??
She told us that almost every kid has pinworms living in their intestines, and they look like pieces of white thread. They come out at night, she said, and our parents could check us by shining a flashlight up our asses. I can’t remember the exact words she used, but that was the gist of it. Or, we were told, if (for some reason) that prospect made us feel uncomfortable, we could put a strip of black electrical tape across our buttholes before bed. When we woke up the next morning, we could check the tape and see if there were any pinworms stuck to it. And if you think I’m making any of this up, you’d be wildly mistaken.
She was crazy, straight up. In fact, I believe she was eventually committed to a wacky shack somewhere. It was long after I was out of school, but I remember hearing about it and not being at all surprised.
I need to go now. It’s super-late, and I need to hit the Devil’s Parkway.
If you have anything on crazy-ass teachers, please share. Also, what are your thoughts on teachers out of context? Did that make you feel weird, too? Please use the comments to bring us up to date on it.
And I’ll see you guys again soon.
Have a great day!