How I Fell in Love With Sandra, My Substitute Teacher
Sept. 15, late at night.
RE: Another school days memory that will never fade.
There are, as we all Know
teachers. Then, oh, my God, those teachers who, without batting an eye can pulverize the class that she is teaching. You or I are dumbfounded to cannot explain this. I swear that I would not try. But what I can try is to do is to get you to not only read this piece, this heart-felt piece, but live it right along with me. Not a tough trip. Just wish that I had snacks for you.
From my time that I served in my first day of school in 1961 from my last day in school, May 19, 1972, I had only old women teachers. I am not dissing old women at all, but was the task too hard for me to have at least one male teacher? Enough foolish remarks. The teachers who tried to teach me should have fell into two groups: The Nearing Retirement and the You Need to Retire Now. None of these groups would listen when the air would fill with soft suggestions concerning changes in these older female teachers being on our school's payroll. Even our PTA meetings steered away from these hot topics that had the words, "older female and teacher." What did our PTA do? They met once a month. Listened to what few parents attended the meetings and went home. Nothing accomplished. Not even a stiff reprimand that should have been handed to the one janitor who constantly neglected full trash cans. Some soft-spoken, sweet senior girls actually lodged a well-written, mild complaint about them catching the janitor who was spending too much of his workday "guarding" the door to the girls' rest room. There was a controversy for a saucy PTA discussion if there ever was one.
Seemingly, Fear had Gripped
these students' earnest parents whose taxes paid the salaries of the older female teachers and our one janitor so these parents just talked to the PTA officers and did nothing--although the bargaining chip: their taxes that paid the older teachers and that one creepy janitor was always a moot point. Business as usual. Just do our best to learn and overlook the obvious misteaching of our curriculum. Our hands were tied. And the older teachers knew it. They were not dumb whatsoever. I could concede them that one point. But the one creepy janitor just toddled around and did just enough manual labor in order to keep his job and whistled while he kept a watch on the girls' rest room door. And you might be interested to know that in all of my years in this school system, when our creepy janitor was employed, not one female ever escaped from the girls' rest room.
Before I would get out of bed, and this was in 1964-1966, I prayed many times for God to let me vaporize while in bed and appear in Heaven. My folks would have surely cried, but knowing that I was now residing in Heaven would console them. But God only let me get out of bed, get dressed, gag-down some breakfast before school, only to lose it in the boys' rest room before I went to class and hope that I had not gotten chunks of my stomach's contents on my shirt. FACT: my mom was a great cook. But the fact was, I never wanted to eat before school--and that Carnation Liquid Breakfast, yukkkkk! Gagalola! Don't think evil of my mom, for inn my adulthood, I found out that I was Lactose Intolerant. My parents' generation never knew of this affliction. Thus the vomiting when dairy products were served to me.
Then, The Black Cloud of
misery, dread, and a few of the older female teachers gone, had dimished, some, Praise God! I lived to see these old women do some staying home with the grandkids and still draw excessive pensions from the State of Alabama Educational Dept. and draw their Social Security checks which they earned. No argument. But I could not look at any of these senior retired teachers without feeling a coal of hot resentment burning in my craw for staying too long at teaching and depriving kids (like me) who did not get the full benefit of an education. I never saw any group who joined together to stage a massive boycott or protest march, but of course, no such luck when you live in a small town like Hamilton, Ala.
Time for a silk curtain to open. The curtain where major Hollywood film and TV stars walk out smiling to their fans. But in this case, the silk curtain revealed a younger, smarter, much-prettier, and charming teacher who I was blessed to meet in 1971. Praise God for the very moment that she just floated from the hallway to Mr. Tommy Dodd, our Algebra I teacher's desk. Some said in the school office that he was out for some unexplainable reason. But the news funneled down from the real source: Dodd's mistress, who spilled the beans to a trusted girlfriend who made the foolish mistake in confiding another trusted girlfriend and down went the perfectly-lined of dominoes that no doubt a hard-working soul had labored for hours to achieve this feat.
Truth be known, comparing Dodd to the mistress to his lawfully-wedded wife, my money was on the wife. Why? I did think that Dodd has suffered from some mental breakdown. That does happen when t folks of a higher IQ cannot reach "that" highest level of smarts, they go haywire. But I couldn't prove it.
Her Name was
Sandra. Not Dodd's mistress or lawfully-wed wife, but our substitute teacher. I would tell her last name, but some might know her (in 2017) and not appreciate me naming her in this story. Oh, it is the truth every word of it. But you and I both know how sensitive our society is when it comes to going wild with suing folks for the least little problem. (e.g. a husband sued by a wife for using their bathroom and his bowels not emitting the aroma of rosebuds. Surely a case headed to the Supreme Court with a bullet).
My buddy, Steve, who was in this Algebra I class with me, glued his eyes to Sandra as she slowly laid down her briefcase, slid out the metal chair and with the grace of a petite Southern Belle who has just graduated from a Female Finishing School in Gulfport, Miss., sat down and there it was: that alluring smile seen behind that hot lipstick. Oh, if Van Halen's "Hot For Teacher," would play wide-open right here, I would stand up and applaud. I ain't kidding. Sandra was in every respect, that hot.
I am not revealing my buddy Steve's last name for the same reason I am not telling Sandra's last name. For a brief, peaceful, perfect moment, Sandra just scanned over the class and I tell you with my hand up to God, there were NO sounds from anyone whatsoever. Mute. No dropped pencils. No shoe soles scuffing the tile. Just us guys completely hypnotized by this female teacher who was barely older than we were. And she knew it. I remember well those endless nights that I watched her sit down and stand up so gracefully that I thought that my heart would stop. If my heart had stopped while in her arms in some dark alley in the front seat of my 1964 Chevy Impala, I would not have apologized to God for this either. God, knew it before I did--so I had no sense in trying to soft soap Him. In fact, God just might have given me a compliment for having such great taste as Sandra, the Subtittute Teacher.
I'm tell you that Sandra was so beautiful and natural looking, even the girls in our class loved her. No catty remarks behind her back. No eye rolls when she walked by. But with us guys, we gave her plenty of eye rolls and those with weight problems (me), would stick their stomach in to impress this goddess who had recently graduated from The University of Alabama with a Master's in Teaching. Today, she has already retired from a very lucrative teaching career maybe in San Diego or one of those really liberal schools found in Colorado and although she had to fight off those more lucrative offers from Hustler and Playboy, she saw it through and taught many what a real education means.
I Have to be Honest
with you. I figured that you would appreciate it. I want to give you a true description and reasons why I loved Sandra, Our Substitute, who not only broke our hearts, but stole them like Don Juan stealing ladies' hearts. I've always thought that Juan had a gift for breaking ladies' hearts. I can't prove it.
Could be that my dad, my mom's brothers, or maybe that one creepy janitor when I was in grade school, never sat me down and had "that" talk with me. I asked my dad once, but he pretended that he didn't hear me, but he did. Back then, his generation thought that giving a son "that" talk was completely taboo. FACT: what little I learned about sex, talking to women, and how to date them, I learned in girly magazines that my buddies and I stashed underneath our mattresses. It was a nerve-wrenching game of knowing just when a parental figure would knock on our bedroom door and when they were gone shopping. But the most important piece of wisdom was: knowing how to not get so deeply involved with reading the stories (and enjoying the photos) in our girly books that would lead to our parents catching us with our pants down. No pun intended.
Frankly, in the case of Sandra, Our Substitute Teacher, she was not at all that Jill St. Johnish or even (a) Suzanne Pleshette, but Sandra had "that" hidden ingredient that every girl wanted to have, maybe pawn their boyfriends' class rings to be as attractive as Sandra. One of our classroom "spies" got hold of some information about Sandra, when she attended my school, Hamilton High School, and was a cheerleader before I was allowed to purchase a yearbook. So that would explain Sandra's perfect grace, charm, and just how much we guys adored her.
Maybe, and this isn't detracting from Sandra, but she had a certain way of standing when she was working at the blackboard. Yes, my buddies and I were frozen on her, but our imaginations were in high gear churning out one fantasy after the other--and every one was hotter, better than the other. I thought to myself that she did stand a look a certain way just because she could and if she did, what a slick act she had. Not one line missing. No missed cue's. Okay. Sure. I did entertain that one fantasy (courtesy of our "spies") about Sandra and me being plucked from a normal school day by a secret government experiment about Time Travel that carried us from Hamilton to a deserted island that was nowhere on any atlas. And Sandra still in her cheerleader uniform. How gosh could the Federal Government be?
Sometimes, Sandra would sling her long blond hair from front to her back and us guys would have paid five dollars and some change to see that magical moment in slow motion, but none of us had jobs. All I can say is that guys are guys. We have these imaginations. And I am not about to apologize.
But the one thing that Sandra did, (I can't prove whether or not that she did this on purpose) right before class dismissed--and we loved it. She was lecturing about a certain way to Factor some Lower Denominator and with one graceful move, she put on her glasses. Those expensive, designer frames. Wow! Lois Lane in Hamilton, Ala. More like Lynda Carter--but blonde. It didn't matter. The photo at the top (of this piece) is the very reason why I chose this girl teacher with glasses. if Sandra had been a performer on stage somewhere, she would have had a sold out performance. Glasses. Who would have thought it?
It was not all that Sandra did that made us guys fall in love with her . . .it was more the things that she didn't do and did them so well.
Please, America's students in grade school and high school: Be aware now. Your female teachers cannot teach forever. And even if you suspect that these female teachers have stayed way too long past their prime, speak to your parents. Or single parent. It's your right as students to be taught the very best education possible and taught by teachers who know when it is time to retire.
The student body that you save might be your own.
© 2017 Kenneth Avery