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  • When I was a middle school teacher, people would ask me, “Did you always want to be a teacher?”

    Not exactly. My career as a teacher actually chose me.

    When people would hear this, they’d sigh and say, “Ahhhh…I had one of those teachers too.”

    Really? Are you sure?

    Mine was a man named Mr. Mommerville. I need to stop here and preface this next part as it contains reference to a speech impediment. My discussion of which I mean no malice. I had a one of these when I was a kid. I couldn’t pronounce my R’s, so I was Wenee Goowee. For some reason, it went away. For others, this issue never disappears, which is the case for the person I am about to mention. I do not hope to seem like I am poking fun although I did poke fun when I was a kid. If anything, I owe this person an apology and tell him that I have learned that you get what you give, because it all came back to me.

    With that said, let’s get back to where it all began. Mr. Mommerville, poor, tender soul who had a Howdy Doody haircut, pocket protector, stains on his jeans and… a lisp…one of the worst I’d ever theen.

    “Clath, clath,” he would struggle “You need to thit in your theats.”

    My concert t-shirt wearing cronies and me were thirteen. Theriously? Thit down?

    Thoon, Mr. Thommerville would produce white foam on the thides of his lips and thcream,

    “Clath, CLATH, That’s THIT! I’ve had THIT! THIT IN YOUR THEATS!”


    Our principal would then walk into the classroom and stare us down until the bell would ring. My cronies and me enjoyed it so much that we got to repeat this circus when we were fourteen. We should have stayed for fifteen. We hadn’t learned a thing.

    Yet, for some reason, we were pushed through and there I was in high school. Geometry. Mr. Kown. Rhymes with? But he was hardly clown as he seemed void of any personality. He was a coach to and there is nothing wrong with that. If I was who I am now, I would have totally been involved in sports, but back then…ahhh…nope unless it was a keg race. So, there was a clash of interest, Kown and me. For our big class project, he wanted us to figure out the geometry of a baseball diamond. Seriously?

    “Can I go to the bathroom?” I would plea.

    “No,” he’d say.

    I’d grimace and whisper, “Girl stuff.”

    What could he say?

    He’d wave his hand dismissing me.

    On the way to the bathroom, I’d take a right and soon I would be at the only place on campus for me…Cancer Corner. Yes, folks, this was the good ole days when adults knew what teenagers had to go through and they let teens smoke. It wasn’t like things are today where smoking involves an ID. Adults today? Butthole Nazis, if you ask me.

    So there I’d be having a smoke at the “Corner,” which was mere steps from Mr. Kown’s window. Every few minutes, He would peer out and look directly at me. Bite me! What could he do? In hindsight, he could have done plenty, but he only did one thing…he passed me with a B+, and there I was again, being pushed out with a tassle thing on my head.

    And then everything went dark.

    I wasn’t alone in the dark. I realized this when I was sitting in a staff meeting one day and I heard one of my colleagues whisper, “The last thing I remember I was sixteen and smoking a bowl in the woods and the next thing I know…I’m like thirty-five, dressed like a grown up and looking at a classroom full of kids looking back at me like I know something.”

    Yep, that about sums it up right there.

    Next thing, I knew there I was…Howdy Doody haircut, pocket protector, stains on my slacks. I didn’t have a lisp, but I developed a very nervous tick.

    I might be standing in a classroom or the corner of a street and suddenly I would scream, “What’s in your mouth? Is that gum? SPIT IT OUT!! SPIT IT OUT NOW!!”

    I might be in a classroom or on some blind date and suddenly I’d lose it.

    “Open your hand! OPEN YOUR HAND! I know you took the mouse balls! I know you have them and I want them balls back right now!”

    And when someone would respond to me defiantly like I used to before insanity had set in, I would look at them crazed and whisper, “Better be careful! This could happen to you!”

    Ever wondered where middle school teachers come from? Where there you be. Happened to me.

    The nicer people on the planet would often ask me, “Being a teacher? Don’t you just love it?”


    Teaching middle school…to borrow a word that a teacher once taught me…totally thucked.
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