Saturday, February 1, 2014

You can observe a lot by just watching.  ~ Yogi Berra


I wasn't going to write a piece today, but then I remembered that I forgot a very important teacher who also wore a long black dress with shoes that you could climb Mount Everest in. So, if you've been thinking of suggesting my blog to some of your friends, but you thought they wouldn't want to be bothered with looooooog, loooooog remembrances, this might be their day to read me. It's short... well, for ME!

I cheated in school ONCE, and I'm shouting it to the world to clear my conscience!!! 

At Dolan Junior High school where I was starting 9th grade, after moving clear across the country from California, I found things were poles-apart AND very similar, too. School was important! The Culver City Unified School District had been named one of the top 10 school districts in all of California, as ALL of our teachers kept announcing to us the year before. And school was ultra-important in Stamford, Connecticut, and SERIOUS!

It seemed that Latin was required of all 9th grade students who were registered in the "college-hopefuls" track. I walked into class, and there she was! The first black-dress-ed female teacher with a mustache that I'd ever had! I KNOW! I KNOW! I don't have to go through the shoes-thing again... but, boy, were they BIG! This teacher had a goatee, too. And her eyebrows were even bushier than mine... who'da thought...

Latin was all memorization... and I KNOW! I don't have to go through the memorizing thing again, either. But it was brutal! So one day I decided to cheat on the Latin quiz... yes, I did... The only way I could figure out how to do it was to write all those word endings on the palm of my hand in black, black ink.

When I sat down in my assigned seat in class, I didn't know what to do with my written-on left hand, so I placed it flat on my desk, and when the girl in front of me passed the mimeoed quizzes over her shoulder, I took them with my right hand, and put them down on my desk, took one with my right hand, picked the rest up with my right hand, and passed them over my shoulder to the next unhappy kid. Nothing suspicious there...

During the test, I never peeked at my hand until I studied the teacher, making sure she was reading something on her desk or looking out the window. Then I would lift two fingers and my thumb and hope that what I was copying was the right answer.

When it was time to pass the tests in, I glued my left hand to the desk, and repeated my former performance. I was happy inside myself, knowing that I wouldn't fail this test, and that was for sure!

RELIEF, at last... The teacher hadn't seen a thing, and I was in the clear. Just wait 'til tomrorow... no worries!

When all the tests were put into her big, black briefcase, the teacher said, "Let's go over the questions on the quiz, now. Amo, amas, amat...  What comes next?"

I KNEW that one! I hadn't cheated on that answer! I KNEW IT! I waved my hand wildly in the air, waiting to show off my knowledge! Inside, I was screaming, PICK ME! PICK ME!

The teacher looked over at me and my left hand waving in the air... and then she looked again... and then I clasp my hand into a fist... and then she called on me... and then I pasted my left hand back on my desk, and whispered, "Amamas," or what ever the right answer was.

The teacher looked long at me, and then her eyes softened, and then she said that I was correct, and then she looked at me a long time again, and then she asked another question of the class, and then another, and then the bell rang, and then I crawled out of that room, knowing full well that I had to come back the next day.

I got a "B" on the quiz, and there was no "SEE ME" note scrawled across it, but I knew she knew everything in that first moment.  How could she not... the ink on my hand was very, very dark!

That teacher had discovered what I had done, admonished me, and understood that I would never do that ever again, all in that one look she gave me. Now that's a TEACHER! She is still my nominee for "Teacher of the Year." Why?  Because I NEVER cheated in any school again, and very rarely in life. What a life-lesson she had taught me in that chocked-full minute of silence!

...and, anyway, I thought... I'm not smart enough to cheat...    

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