Did you ever have one of those really nutty history teachers in high school–the kind who got just a little too excited about the subject matter, the kind who showed up the first day of the Civil War unit dressed as Abe Lincoln and stood and talked like Abe Lincoln all day long, the kind who, in your senior year, dyed his dark brown hair blonde and started hanging out with a former student and wearing ripped jeans and chains? Ever have one of those?
Neither did I. My history teacher was a 50 year-old single lady who wore her hair in a bun, pinned a butterfly broach to her collar every day, lived with her mom, and looked exactly the same in 1992 as she had in 1958 when she graduated from the high school from which she eventually retired. But the man described above taught next door, and he was all of that and more. He was so exhilarated by United States history that he practically buzzed–twitched–with energy each time a bell sounded to begin class. Friends who had him said they never knew what he might do during a lecture: leap onto his desk and then hurl himself off again to depict those who leapt to their deaths the day the stock market crashed; run from the room and not return for several minutes; cry. Outside the classroom he was equally unpredictable. I knew him because I was a TA during his planning period, so I often ran into him in the office or the library, and he was always friendly, perhaps a little too much so. He never simply said “hello” to me; instead he bowed dramatically, spoke in a wacky accent, or shook my hand. Of course, he was this way with everyone. It wasn’t unusual for someone in my circle of friends to utter, “Mr. W. is insane. Do you think he’s on something?”
Turns out he was. CRACK! That’s right, crack. The history teacher was a crack addict. Hand on my heart, I am not making this up, not one single word. And do you know what the sad thing is? I didn’t even blink when I heard. I probably even said something along the lines of, “Oh. Well yeah, sure he is. It makes perfect sense.” Actually, the truly sad thing is that THE HISTORY TEACHER WAS A CRACK ADDICT, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there were more out there like him–poor souls who love what they teach but can’t deal with the bureaucracy and red tape that comes with the job, not to mention the “I really couldn’t give two shits” attitude so many students have these days. It’s a wonder we’re not all on crack! I for one will be looking at my colleagues in a whole new light tomorrow.