Archive for » July, 2014 «

Rumor had it . . . Part 2

(If you missed PART 1, you can read it here ⇒

As I started to say last time, in those days teachers could leave kids unattended without the fear of bazookas, flame throwers, or depth charges being unleashed from our little metal lunchboxes. School was a safe, secure place. That is, until the day Francine Lubarsky snapped.

On this particular day, our teacher, Miss Oerter, had been called down to the Principal’s office, and as was her custom whenever she left the classroom, she picked one of the students to be in charge during her absence. Although Miss Oerter considered it a great privilege to be selected as room monitor, to us kids it was a curse. This was because the assignment required the unwilling victim to switch allegiances, a move which instantaneously marked you as a Benedict Arnold and destroyed any shred of status you’d been fortunate enough to accrue. I wasn’t exactly at the high end of the popularity scale anyway, and having previously observed that making eye contact with Miss Oerter increased your chances of selection, whenever it came time for her to choose I would look down at my desk and pretend to be busily working. Up until then, the strategy had worked well for me. But not on this particular day. On this particular day, the victim was me.

As room monitor, it was my duty to enforce the impossibly unenforceable rule of


This was to be accomplished by writing the names of the rule-breaking future felons on the board. Fearing for my already meager blackboard1reputation, I instantly devised what I considered to be a brilliant and flawless two-part plan: To comply with Miss Oerter’s directive to maintain silence in the room and yet simultaneously remain in the good graces of my classmates, I would put the future felons’ names on the board but then quickly erase them the split second before Miss Oerter appeared back in the doorway. She would be so proud that I was such a good assistant, and everyone would love me for my act of amnesty.

Predictably, the moment Miss Oerter’s footsteps were out of earshot, pandemonium broke out like a box of BBs dumping on a tile floor. I immediately commenced implementation of Phase 1 of my brilliant and flawless plan. Unfortunately, Francine, the head BB, had no way of knowing that I had formulated a two-part plan, so when I put her name on the board, she instantly implemented a plan of her own: ambushing me from behind by jumping on my back, wrapping the full length of her arms around my neck, and choking me to death; a plan which she apparently reckoned fair retribution for a turncoat.

Spinning in circles, I attempted to engage centrifugal force to unleash the would-be assassin, but some things work better in theory than in practice. Fortunately, Miss Oerter returned in the nick of time to unpeel Francine from my neck right before I blacked out.

Francine wasn’t at school for the next couple of days, so I thought the Principal must have agreed with my assessment that exile to Siberia was a sentence befitting the crime. To my chagrin, however, a few days later there was the head BB, back at her desk and looking more menacing than ever. I guess they must have figured, What could you expect from a child who was raised by wolves?

Adding insult to injury, I discovered that Francine could hold a wicked grudge. During playground recesses for the next several days, she tried to mount up a gang of the other future felons in an attempt to finish me off, but luckily someone tipped off Miss Oerter and foiled the plot. The recess teachers had a big powwow with her and she finally left me alone.

After that, all the other classroom capers — thumbtacks placed on the teacher’s chair, spitballs shot from drinking straws, and encrypted notes secretly passed back and forth – were lackluster by comparison. Of course, there was always the looming specter of Francine, and I must admit that I kept a wary eye on her from that point forward, but other than that, I could leave the serious worrying to the grown-ups. Truth was, I was growing up a good person and the worst of my problems was over (or so rumor had it) . . .

Stay tuned for Part 3 to see if the rumors of my truth were greatly exaggerated.



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