junior high teachers

images5.jpg I was talking to my friend Alex J. about old classes we had to take in high school and junior high, like home ec and typing. My typing teacher, who was maybe in her fifties, wore a short blond-frosting hairdo and had all these perfectly preserved dresses from the 1960s, sweater sets with matching poodle skirts and pearls, which she wore without irony. And maybe you’re too young to have taken typing as a class, but I remember her drills where we had to type “F” and “G” over and over again, where she kind of waved her hands like a conducter faster and faster. And you could only hear the sound of her excited voice yelling “F, G, F, and F, G, F” and the growing storm of taps against typewriter keys. Alex’s typewriting teacher was named Mrs. Kitchen, and when she drilled her class for the letter “P” she would strike her palms together like cymbals, while she yelled out “P! P! P!”

For home ec teacher, I had the youthful, attractive Mrs. Shearer, who told me brightly that I spoke English really well. To which, I returned that she too spoke English really well (which Alex interpreted as a rrrerrrh [insert cat noise] moment, but it was more reflexive politeness than anything else, a deeply ingrained call and response.) Aside from the English comment, I enjoyed that class, where I made teddy bears that looked handicapped and other lopsided creations. In cooking, we made Apple Brown Betty.

But all these teachers, with their subjects completely obsolete, must be like on the dole now, right? And must have had strange lives in these towns where they taught such obscure arts. Maybe they were happy and fulfilled, but I prefer to think of them as….crazy.

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