Thursday, August 4, 2011
My Fifth Grade Teacher was Almost as Crazy as my Fourth Grade Teacher
That title doesn’t make a lot of sense, so let me qualify it.
My fourth grade teacher spent most of his time attempting to convince his class of ten and eleven year olds that the middle school most of them were going to (including me) was infested by the ghosts of Indians buried beneath it. Specifically the elevator.
You’ll hear more about him some other time.
Meanwhile, I’d like to talk about my fifth grade teacher, who was also crazy, but not so much and in a better way. His first name was Kerry, and I won’t tell you his last name because that’s just not a nice thing to do online. Still, a dude with the first name Kerry… Ryan is worse, obviously, but Kerry? I expect he was teased relentlessly. As in, his teachers themselves were getting in on the action. His substitute teachers would be all “Kerry? Is Kerry here today?” and he would raise his hand and they’d be all “Yes, little boy? Do you know where she is?” and he’d be all “I am Kerry.” and they’d say “Very funny. Is she here? Anybody know?”
After a while of him insisting that he was Kerry, they’d send him to the school psychiatrist, and by that point, he’d probably need it.
He was in the Air Force reserves while he was our teacher. Nobody teased him anymore.
I had so much fun in his class. I had a special seat in the middle of the classroom, perfectly situated so the transparency projector thing was directly in between his face and mine, so he couldn’t tell where I was looking or whether I was paying attention or not. I think he approved of this, honestly, because I was aweird kid. He once asked me why I was sucking on my arm. I told him it was because if I had a hickey, the vampires couldn’t get me. I remember getting a solemn nod for that one, because it made perfect sense.
Because of the thing that obscured his line of sight to my eyes, I would basically read books every single day for hours. Occasionally he’d ask me a question and I’d get it right (or, sometimes, wrong, but whenever that happened I tended to come up with elaborate explanations for why I was right. He eventually stopped correcting me.) but I never really paid much attention. Once or twice he caught me reading and made a big show about it by taking my book away, but I always had three or four spare ones tucked away in my desk or backpack. Besides, the books he caught me reading were so far beyond the reading level of the rest of the class I’m sure he felt slightly guilty denying an eleven year old the pleasures of Wodehouse when teachers find difficulty getting high schoolers to read it, much less fourth graders.
Hm. Looking back on it, he WASN’T all that crazy. In fact, now, it seems like he was a pretty cool guy. Why did I think he was crazy?
Oh! Right! The Stink Bomb Incident!
Somebody set off a stink bomb during class. Kerry stopped class immediately, declared that he would find the culprit and they would pay dearly for their transgression.
The culprit, by the way, was not me. I had never found stink bombs very funny, but that was probably because I could never get my hands on one.
Anyway, Kerry demands complete silence, reaches into his pocket, and pulls out a matchbook. The entire class naturally assumed that he was going to start lighting children on fire until one of them confessed, or perhaps do the more sensible thing, find the culprit, and then light just him on fire. Instead, he lit the match, held it up, and started walking around the perimeter of the room, staring at the flame.
It felt like a wiccan ritual, which I had just been reading about. I started to chant a curse shield under my breath, just in case.
The match burned down and Kerry shook it out, probably cursing inside his head. He turned to us and said “That should have… When a flame comes into contact with the gas… let me try again.”
He didn’t elaborate. He simply lit another match.
Now the entire class was assuming that once he got close to where the stink bomb was set off, the flame would blossom into a glorious pheonix and claw the perpetrator’s eyes from his evil head.
At least that’s what I was assuming. Everybody else was probably just hoping for an explosion. Or maybe for the flame to change color.
None of that happened. The second match burned out, and then a third, and then the smell was basically gone and whoever did it was safe. Class resumed with a minimum of grumbling, and that was from Kerry himself.
To this day I have no idea who it was. Maybe it was just the overweight fellow in the front row who had eaten a little too much Taco Bell at lunch.
One day, I’m going to go out and get a stink bomb, just so I can see what happens to a flame when it goes off. It’s been something that has bothered me for years.