Last week’s blog: In the Beginning – I wanted to be a writer.
That Meeting Changed Me
I had received the first fail mark of my academic career and I was determined to get to the bottom of it. At the end of the day I went back to the classroom to dispute my mark with my teacher, Ms Holmes-Peters. I began the meeting with the determination to break her spirit first. Gloria Holmes-Peters, however, was one tough cookie. I knew her reputation the same as I presumed she knew mine. She reminded me of Kathleen Turner, tough but classy. Much to my surprise, before we even started she was more in control of the situation than I could ever have thought. A person had to be really smart to impress me – my bar was set very high at an early age – and few people, let alone teachers, could ever clear it. This lady did.
I was no pushover, I was a tough cookie too, although a more masculine one – well, certainly more masculine than Ms Holmes-Peters – but perhaps less so than Kathleen Turner – but that begs the question, “who is more masculine than Kathleen Turner?” I never bought into the whole “we are right because we are the authority figures” thing. My bête noire was bad teachers protected by corrupt unions. I had very high standards for teachers and if they failed to impress me, I had no use for them.
I had sat through the rest of the class stewing over the F on my English Lit paper and devising my plan of attack for getting it revised upwards – significantly – at the end of class. Now, most teachers would have tried to deal with me in the few minutes between classes but that tactic almost always gave way to the stragglers providing me with an audience. Having people watching was really something a teacher wanted to avoid with me. I was even more soul destroying when I had an audience – and if I was cornered, I would often threaten with the intervention of my own legal team (not something that every student had access to, but I did). When the end of the class came, however, Ms Holmes-Peters took the wind from my sails and smoothly postponed our meeting to the end of the day. The fact that she did so with such savvy should have told me that something was up.
When the end of the day came, I was seated at her desk waiting for an explanation for the F on my paper. Naturally, I was laid back and cocky. I was enormously confident I could, at the very least, bully her into revising the grade – especially because I was good friends with her boss, and she knew it. (Only later did I discover that they had conspired a come up with the whole F thing for my own good).
“So…” I began,”you have had some time to think about it. Reflect on it. I am sure we can agree that you suffered a temporary lapse in what I am sure is otherwise sound judgment. Revise my mark to an A and I can be off.” I actually didn’t expect to get an A, but I did believe a B was within my grasp if I worked my charms – like I knew I could.
“You think… I think… You think, no, no, you are…”
I was pleased. Flustering the opposition is always a good start.
“Yes, yes, what am I? Go on, tell me.” I pushed her, prodded her. I wanted her to come out with something that I could have her job on.
“You, you… are just, just… one…”
“Are you going to tell me what I am or sit there and stammer?”
“Ugh! Your arrogance, good God, man… you are a complete…” she stopped speaking again and rolled her eyes.
I was trying to gain momentum. I want to tease a response out of her that would serve my purpose. In my mind I was hearing, “you are a complete… asshole, bastard, prick, mother fucker…” anything that would mean I could have her job and my mark. I wanted her to respond to my provocation and pay homage to my evil genius.
“You are a…” she shook her head, giving the impression she was still wondering if I was worth the trouble, “you are a complete, completely…”
I seized the opportunity, as you must in life.
“You know, I happen to be quite good with speech. I am quite busy, but I would be happy to help you out a couple of days a week after school to deal with the problem.”
“You are such,” she began again, “you are completely…”
…Yes, yes come over to the dark side… and the unemployment line (not the first teacher or person who end up there at my behest – I fired my first person, our cook, when I was six).
“You, you are a complete… complete…”
“Come on, you can do it!” I baited her.
“You are…” She regained her composure. “…completely WEIRD!”
She breathed out. Wait, I thought, how can I get her fired for calling me ‘weird’? I had not anticipated ‘weird’.
Frankly, thinking about it, I was weird – I certainly wasn’t a normal teenager. It was a very smart thing for her to say. I conceded her worthiness with a smile. I was even tickled at her tenacity. Was I actually beginning to like this woman? Was she really smarter than me? She didn’t bend and she didn’t break. She was truly a tough and classy broad. A really impressive lady. Therefore I dubbed her Lady Holmes-Peters and soon everyone followed.
Although, now I knew I was equally matched, I still planned to get my A based on the merits of my paper, which wasn’t an easy task. I was four grades plus variants off that mark. Bullying wasn’t going to work – nor did such a worthy opponent deserve to be bullied. I had to regroup my thoughts and get a new stratagem before I ended up with an F and a new BFF.
Next weeks blog: The F’in Showdown