Things My Teachers Told Me
Mrs. Marshall said she sure was glad she didn’t fool around before she was married, because she got pregnant just like that! Her water broke in the supermarket, so she dropped a jar of pickles as cover. She was in labor for 24 hours, and then she dilated so fast she couldn’t get an epidural and ended up with natural childbirth like it or not. When the baby crowned, her husband passed out and banged his head on a chair, so when they clipped the umbilical cord and handed her the baby for the first time, he was off getting stitches in his scalp.
Ms. Tanniker said when she studied abroad in college you had to sign an agreement that you wouldn’t drink alcohol, ride a motorcycle, or spend the night away from your host family for any reason. She got very drunk, rode on the back of some guy’s motorcycle without a helmet, and spent the night at his place. The next day her host family kicked her out and the program couldn’t find anyone else to take her. They were going to send her back home, but her parents raised a fuss, so she shared a bedroom with the program director’s nine-year-old daughter for the rest of the semester.
Mrs. Alvarez said God had a plan for each of us. You might not know His plan, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t real. It was just like termites. You might not know you have termites, but they’re there all the same.
Mr. Frist said we sounded terrible, we couldn’t count the simplest of beats, or even start or stop on time, listening to us was torture and one day he would kill himself, just throw himself off a roof or something, so he would never have to hear us again.
Mrs. Montclair said her father was an alcoholic and one night when her mother poured out all the liquor in the house, he drank aftershave and died.
Mrs. Richardson said if you used a tampon the wrong way you wouldn’t be a virgin anymore. She said if wearing a pad in gym class was a problem she could write us a note to get us out of it.
Mrs. Kretscher said bad things came in threes. The summer she was fourteen her sister hit her head diving into a pool that wasn’t deep enough and became mentally disabled. The same summer her dog ran away and her father became blind. He only had one working eye due to a childhood pop gun accident, and then some fireworks exploded and destroyed his good eye.
Ms. Sedley said she celebrated New Year’s Eve twice one year, driving into the Central time zone where it wasn’t midnight yet.
Mrs. Govers said she fell in love with her husband because of his British accent, which was just like David Bowie’s. He didn’t look like David Bowie, he was kind of bald and built like an athlete, and he was a big fan of all sports, especially soccer, but they called it “football” over there. He liked to watch sports at the neighborhood bar, which he called the “pub,” and he also liked to have friends over to watch the game, which she wasn’t that crazy about, but, after all, what’s that old saying? A man’s home is his castle.
Mr. Simon said Hanukkah commemorated the uprising of the Maccabees, when fanatical Jews slaughtered secular Jews, like the ones at our school celebrating Hanukkah. The only reason Christmas was in December was to compete with the Roman Saturnalia, a wild festival when masters served their slaves. He personally observed no religious holidays but invited friends over on the winter solstice. They wrote down anything that had held them back during the previous year on scraps of paper and tossed them into a giant bonfire in his backyard. His girlfriend always made grog. Her name was Ode which was spelled A-u-d-e and was a French name from the Middle Ages, although she was a thoroughly modern woman.
Ms. Mazanno said you can create something by drawing not the thing itself but the space around it. Focus on the negative space, she said, on seeing what is not there, instead of trying to perceive what is there. Your preconceptions will dissolve. Don’t think of the chair. What is a “chair,” anyway? Chair, chair, chair, chair — it doesn’t mean anything anymore. Just look at the space around these pieces of wood and metal, and draw that.
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