perils with writing and whatnot
Up to now, all of my memoirs in this blog have been about happy and/or adventurous times in my past. As it is with all people, I have memories that are disappointing, cruel, and even ill-fated without a happy ending. Such is life. No one should ever assume that life turns out just the way he or she wants it because expectations like that are pure fantasy. I’m certain there is a life coach out there who is saying I am wrong, that you can get whatever you expect out of life. All I can say to that person is, “If that’s your belief, you haven’t experienced enough of life yet.”
As a young child, I had very few disappointments. This was probably due to the fact that my mother made sure to keep my expectations, assumptions and dreams within the realms of reality. There weren’t a lot of sad tears during those years. (This, however, doesn’t mean there weren’t numerous tears of anger.)
There was one incident during the school year when I was eleven years old when the tears were a mixture of woe, embarrassment, and intense wrath. There has been only one other time in my life so far, when I have felt so dishonored and outraged. Because I’m trying to do these memories in somewhat of a chronological order, I leave this other story for a later day.
Mr. Everheart was probably in his middle thirties when I was in his sixth grade homeroom class. He was a tall good-looking man with dark auburn hair. All students in the fifth and sixth grade had him for art class. Despite his handsome physical attributes and his abilities in art, I don’t think any of these kids were especially fond of him. He was just another elementary school teacher.
Although Mr. Everheart’s so-called forte was art, his homeroom class had him for English and Social Studies as well. How this was figured out was a mystery to us, the students, but we accepted it without question nonetheless.
As I look back on that time in my life, I now realize that the English class was minimal at best in comparison to what I had the year before with Mrs. Worthsmith. Each Monday Mr. Everheart would verbally give us our spelling words for the week and allow time for us to look up the words we weren’t sure how to spell. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday he would quiz us on those words trying to instill the importance of studying them at home in preparation for the actual test on Friday.
My mom, like Mrs. Worthsmith, was a lover of English. This meant that I got drilled on those spelling words every single night from Monday to Thursday. The result was that I always got 100% on my spelling tests. Even though I wasn’t fond of the drill my mom put me through, I never fretted about how I would do on Friday’s test.
One Friday I was home because of illness. Although I didn’t get sick often, when I did, putting Kleenex in my pocket and sending me to school just the same wasn’t an option. I remember being feverish until about mid-day on Sunday that weekend. To make sure I was ready for the make-up spelling test that I was bound to be given the next day, my mom drilled me on my list of words several times during that Sunday afternoon and evening.
As I walked the three blocks to school that next day, I had a spring in my step because I knew for certain that I would get 100% on the test. When I walked into Mr. Everheart’s classroom, I stopped at his desk and handed him my permission of absence slip I had gotten from the school office. He looked at me and asked, “Who gave this to you?”
I was taken back. He should know who gave it to me. I answered, “The lady in the office downstairs.”
His reply was, “We’ll see about this. Go sit down.”
As soon as the other kids were in their seats and the last bell had rung, Mr. Everheart assigned one of the girls, Karen, to give me the spelling test outside in the hall while he went ahead and started the lesson for Social Studies.
Karen and I trotted out to the hall. I sat on the floor with my pencil and paper ready to start writing down each word. Karen obliged and said each word, giving me a few seconds to write them down. The entire process took just over five minutes. I walked back into the room after I was done and handed Mr. Everheart my paper.
As I started to walk to my seat, he called me back. “You cheated, didn’t you! I heard you tell Karen that you’d give her candy if she’d let you see the list.”
I was shocked. The tears came tumbling out of my eyes and my lips trembled.
“What do you have to say for yourself?’ he bellowed.
I was speechless.
Then, from the back of the room, Mike yelled, “Mr. Everheart, you didn’t hear her say anything. Glynis always gets 100% on the spelling tests. You’re lying.”
Dana, who sat right in front of Mike piped in. “You were talking when Karen and Glynis were out there. You didn’t hear anything.” To Karen she asked, “Did she cheat?”
Karen looked at Mr. Everheart and said, “No. She just wrote down the words I gave her. That’s it.”
The entire class stared at Mr. Everheart. Some had smirks on their faces. Others were frowning. Still others had a questioning look on their faces.
The Social Studies class was discontinued for the day and Mr. Everheart’s students, including me, were sent outside to the playground for an early recess.
The rest of the day was a blur for me. I wasn’t one of the most admired kids so it was shocking to have Mike and Dana stand up for me seeing that they were so popular. Of course, it was miraculous that they had such nerve to begin with.
For some unknown reason, I never did tell my mom about the tragedy I had endured that day. I could have easily gotten Mr.. Everheart fired. I do remember that I never wanted to talk about the incident again, which I’m sure had some bearing on my silence until now. The humility still haunts me at times.
Text+Sound by Wayne Mason
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