Sunday, February 20, 2011


My 4th grade teacher was Mrs. McCoy who later became Mrs. Murray. She had the tiniest mouth and the loudest voice. She wore bright red lipstick on those rubber-band lips. [I didn't know the word caricature then, but she was like a caricature.] From that tiny, round, reddened hole of a mouth came a screech that sent chills down our spines and sounded like it belonged in a cartoon. Her voice, likened by some to be like nails on blackboards, was far worse than that.

I have no idea how old she was when I was her student but she wore "Old Lady Comforter" shoes which were like the ones my grandmother wore and my mother wouldn't be caught dead wearing!. ["Old Lady Comforter" shoes were lace-up shoes with a block heel on them.]

My brother Kenny was five years older and in the 8th grade. The fad at the time was to lace up one's shoes in a different manner each day; one day the bow was on the side, the next, day on the other side and the next day at the bottom. Of course I thought that was the "coolest" thing I'd ever seen! I begged him to tie my laces that way.

The next day in school the other kids pointed out my shoes with the bows on the side of my shoes (which, as I already said, was the "coolest" thing in the universe!). Mrs. McCoy immediately marched me to the front of the room and had me put my foot upon the first seat which had no desk in front of it (which is where we were seated for misbehaving). She re-tied my shoes and said with great certitude that that was the way that they were "supposed to be".

I didn't tell my mother what happened, but that night I had Kenny re-tie my shoelaces another "cool" way. The next morning, Mrs. MCCoy once again paraded me to the front of the class and re-tied my shoelaces but merely harrumphed and made no further comment. That night Kenny re-tied them in an even "cooler" fashion! The next day, Mrs. McCoy again made a spectacle as she re-tied the shoelaces and ended by saying, "So there!" That was on Friday. Some of the other kids asked why I kept doing it and I said because I thought it was neat (I just remembered that we didn't use "cool" in those days; that was more like the 7th grade!).

On Monday, I arrived at school with the "coolest" exhibit of all, but Mrs. McCoy ignored me even though one of her "pets" mentioned it to her. That night Kenny said that it was probably too much work for her to re-tie that style! My brother Bode said that she hadn't realized how "willful" I was. At that time, as a 4th grader, I didn't know the meaning of "willful", but I never forgot his tone which somehow implied criticism.

When my mother learned about the events she was furious and said, "How dare that old fat ass humiliate you!" but I told her it was just funny. My mother said, "But she humiliated you in front of the whole class!" I said, "She couldn't humiliate me because everybody thought my shoes were neat!" Kenny said if I'd been a boy I would have gotten a spanking for my insubordination!

I suppose when she saw that her tactic of attempted humiliation didn't work, she chose to ignore my "willfulness".

Why would a teacher use her power to try to humiliate a child for days? Why would a teacher waste valuable classroom time trying to make a point about something so silly? Why would a teacher try to break a child's enthusiasm? Why would a teacher be mean?

The most important question is, "How the Hell DID she get TWO men to marry her?"

1 comment:

Mona Lisa said...

The last line was TOO funny!