the 9th grade, advanced placement, english teacher, was notorious for being a badass ballbuster. the 1st day of class, everyone in the room was scared.
she and i were about to meet.
when the bell rang, she picked up a rolled-up magazine and walked around the room looking at all the students. everyone averted their eyes. then, suddenly, she would slam the magazine on a random kid’s desk and say “so! you think you’re intelligent!??!” and the kid would just tremble and not answer.
she did this 4 times. one of those times the boy wet his pants. not kidding.
then she got near me and slammed MY desk and said “so! you think you’re intelligent?!!?”, to which i looked her in the face and said “i think i’m reasonably intelligent.” then she replied, “are you being truthful or being a smartass?” and i said “yes”. and, just for a nanosecond, i saw a smirk in that cold, mean, face.
she didn’t stop there, though. “what makes you think you’re so smart. do you think you’re smarter than me?” and i said, “no, ma’am, i don’t think i’m smarter than you. but i am smart enough to know that if you continue to harass and intimidate me, instead of actually teaching me to be smarter than you, that i’ll drag your butt in front of the board of education and then you can intimidate and harass the people in line at your mcdonald’s register.” she looked at me for a moment and said, “ok. you’re the teacher’s pet this year.” and went to the chalkboard and began teaching us.
she and i remained friends all year and i visited her when i could after moving to a different school across town. i went to her funeral, but didn’t know anyone there. at the family’s house, they began asking me who i was. i explained i was her student one year and told them the above story. her husband said, “oh my god…YOU’RE allen! my wife loved you so much!” and my heart melted.
rip, mrs. watts. thanks for helping to make me smarter.