Of course there are lots of things to be cheerful about. Just a few minutes ago I read a comment by my funny friend Paula, after she read an interview with me by my other good friend Maria. Paula’s always guaranteed to either be laughing or yelling with passion about something, so I love her comments.
I knew she related to the remarks about my teacher, Miss Todd. Today, this one’s dedicated to you, dear Paula…and to you, dear Mareer, for bringing back the memory.
She was plumpish, but not jolly. Not at all. She was a strict disciplinarian, and into using her ruler to inflict punishment on the shins of any boy who stepped out of her extremely tight line. Miss Todd had no compunction about rapping knuckles with that same ruler, and in this case her approach was entirely without gender preference.
She also had a habit of making the whole class stay in after school if one person misbehaved, and I absolutely couldn't see the justice of this.
After school everyone settled down with long faces and sullen unwillingness to the long punishment. We all had to be very quiet, and learn a poem verbatim for possible testing later on.I sat close by the sash windows of the classroom. Miss Todd was reading and marking at her table. She didn't even give us a glance.
Seizing my opportunity I climbed up on the windowsill, watched with incredulity by my classmates. For one moment I hung there indecisively, and then Miss Todd looked up. The sight of her open mouth and huge bulbous eyes behind her glasses was to stay with me forever. Then I jumped.
I was a very fleet runner. I ran along the street, pursued part of the way by some boys she sent after me. But they were no match for my adrenalin.
I ran swiftly up long steep Tally's Hill, and ducked in to a narrow alcove just before you get to the printing shop. I hid there for ages, knowing if I came out I would be caught.
Miss Todd's sister drove by in her tiny two seater fiat that sounded like a sewing machine. Then it drove by again, only this time Miss Todd was in it too. By this time I’d hidden well over an hour, long past the time I would normally have returned home if I'd accepted my punishment.
I breathed a sigh of relief, and went home. My parents were there, and asked severely what I had done. They had apparently received a visit from the Todd sisters, so my cover was blown. This was in the days when parents sided with the teacher, and encouraged respect, no matter what quirks that teacher might have. The weekend proceeded with agonizing slowness as I thought about my really bad transgression. My brother was no help as he told me stories of his friends who'd received her corporal punishment.
On Monday I had to go back to school. Visions of ruler punishment danced in my head. Surprisingly, Miss Todd made no mention of my escapade. She seemed pleasant, in fact.
But at recess she told me to stay behind.With pounding heart I obeyed. She looked at me, and said gently, "Dear, I was worried about you. I want you to promise me now you will never do anything like that again."
"Yes, Miss Todd," I said. "I promise."
No questions were asked. I wasn't punished. It’s so many years later, and still I look at windowsills in a very different way. They come with a smile at this evergreen memory on a dark day.
Have a wonderful weekend, y'all.