I was a bit of a trouble maker in my younger years, and if I wasn’t making trouble, I found some already made to get caught in. In this story, I made it though.
I didn’t like Mrs. Smith, my second grade English teacher. She was smelly, had long thin white fingers and there were rumors that she wore a diaper (I may have started that rumor, I’m not sure). There are more stories involving Mrs. Smith and her supposed diapers, but that’s not this story.
In this story, I took a math test, and on a whim (yes, you can have whims when you’re 7), I wrote in big block letters in the back,
I HATE MRS. SMITH
I knew it was wrong, and stupid. I showed it to a few girls lining up to hand their papers in. Their eyes got wide in horror, but then excitement, “Do it, do it!” they said. (Hey, all the fun and none of the risk, I’d probably egg someone else on too) I remember the adrenaline rush as first I hesitated to put my paper on top of the stack on her desk, then plunged the paper down, and scampered off.
By the time I walked off the school bus and my mother was asking about my day, I had totally forgotten my mischief.
A few days later, Mrs. Smith announced that she was handing back our tests. Bolting upright in my seat, I remembered my impishness. The desk started to feel very hard and uncomfortable; I didn’t want to face my stupidity. Mrs. Smith was already calling out names for girls to come collect their papers. Soon it would be mine.
She called my name like everyone else’s. Like I had done nothing wrong. Was this a trick? Slowly I removed myself from my desk and in opposition to what I felt like doing, which was hanging my head low, and shuffling along, I brazenly perked my head up, smiled big and sauntered to the front of the classroom. Mrs. Smith looked at me briefly, and then at my paper, and handed it to me. Her eyes didn’t say anything. I was a little disappointed. Nothing?
I don’t recall my grade, knowing my history, probably better off not remembering so I can retain some self-esteem. This was the paper I had written those cries for attention on, wasn’t it? There hadn’t been any other test; I wasn’t confusing it with another. Quickly, I flipped to the back of the test to examine my profound commentary.
It was still written there, bold and brash as ever.
I HATE MRS. SMITH.
But wait, there was something. I looked closely, and then again. She added an “s” and a period. Apparently, in my haste to make a fool of myself, I left off the “s” to Mrs., and left it reading, “I hate Mr Smith.”
She just corrected me, in her red pen, marking an error I made.
An error I never made again.