Through junior high I attended school with a bunch of smarties. My theory is that I, being borderline retarded, was thrown in with the purportedly intelligent kids in hope that some of their brains might rub off on me.
One of our resulting privileges from the "smart" label was that we were always a year ahead of everyone else in math. For example, whereas most people took algebra in ninth grade, we took it in eighth.
My eighth grade algebra teacher, Mrs. Lowmuff, was a sadist. She had her reasons for being a total bitch to us, most notably because she had suffered severe back injuries in a car crash which left her crabbier than hell most days. Understandable. Yet not easy for those trying to learn through the hazy mist of her wrath.
Some days were worse than others for Mrs. Lowmuff. One time we suffered her pain along with her for several weeks in a row, when every day she would hobble up to her desk, sit down and say something like "don't any of you dare start with me today. The first stupid question I hear, you'll be out of here so fast your head will spin."
Then she would tell us she was in too much pain to stand up to write on the chalkboard, and would proceed to do so while seated and facing the class, reaching up over her head to scratch out her notes. The result would invariably be a series of unintelligible scribbles that no one dared question. Remember, this was back in the good old days when teachers still received a modicum of respect and cooperation from their pupils.
One time Mrs. Lowmuff attempted to teach us an entire two-week unit in this lovely style. At the end of each unit we were given a written exam, and lo and behold, the ENTIRE CLASS failed this particular test. I'll never forget the verbal thrashing we received from Mrs. Lowmuff when she handed back the papers.
"You all make me sick. From the results of this test one would doubt any of you even know what algebra is. Thanks to you lazy kids, I'm going to have to spend two weeks of my life re-teaching this entire unit. You'll all be lucky even to try to pass the exam I'm going to have to give you at the end of the school year. Good luck, fools. Now let's get started, and if you don't understand something you had damn well better open your mouths."
Damned if you do and damned if you don't. I also admired how she avoided any personal culpability in our failing.
On less heated occasions, Mrs. Lowmuff seemed to take particular pleasure in tormenting me. More than once she made public reference to my particular lack of ability in her chosen field of academia, and whenever she called on me she would say things like "Thomas, please read aloud for the class the first paragraph on page 87. You can read, can't you? At least I've heard rumors to that extent."
One time I lent a book on cat intelligence to my favorite teacher, Mrs. S. One day Mrs. S. said "Tom, I hope you don't mind, but I was reading your book in the teacher's lounge, and Mrs. Lowmuff asked if she could borrow it. I gave it to her; is that ok?"
Of course I wasn't going to begrudge my beloved Mrs. S. anything, but part of my soul died knowing I was going to have to make any extra contact with Mrs. Lowmuff.
Several weeks later I approached Mrs. Lowmuff to ask if she had my book.
"What book?" she replied, her raspy voice free of warmth.
"It's a book on testing your cat for intelligence. Mrs. S. said she lent it to you."
"Oh, that. Yes, I have it."
"Have you finished reading it?"
"Yes, it was very cute."
"If you're finished, may I have it back?"
"Ok." I waited. Mrs. Lowmuff just sat there, no movement, no reply.
"I'm sorry, but do you have the book with you?"
"Yes, it's right here in my desk drawer."
"Great. Can I have it?"
"Yes." She smirked and made no attempt to retrieve my book.
"Ok." I paused. "Please?"
"Yes." Still nothing but a grin. At least she was looking more pleased for a change.
Utterly confused, I slowly got up and returned to my seat.
I'm telling you, there was something wrong with this woman, and I suspect it went beyond her back pain.
Several weeks later I decided to try again. I approached her and asked if she still had the book in her desk.
"Yes, it's still here."
"Well, can I have it?"
I was beyond knowing what to do.
"Well, I've been up here twice to ask for the book. You tell me you have it right here, but you don't seem to want to give it to me."
"That's not true. You can have it."
"When can I have it?"
"That depends. When do you want it?"
"How about right now?"
"Ok." She opened the drawer and handed me the book. "Thomas, you need to learn to communicate more clearly. How was I supposed to know WHEN you wanted the book? You never told me when you wanted it until right now."
Maybe she had a point, but still. When I walk up to a food service counter, I guess I'm supposed to say "I'd like a burger, fries and a large Coke - RIGHT NOW, please." I never got the memo explaining that a time frame on expectations must be clearly established upon every possible human interaction.
At the end of the school year we had to pass a final exam in algebra in order to proceed directly to geometry during our freshman year of high school. I studied my ass off for that test; no way in hell did I want to go through beginning algebra a second time.
Mrs. Lowmuff was required to have a private conference with each student to deliver the test score and explain why or why not each student would graduate to the next level. This is what she told me:
"Thomas, you have surprised me. You passed this exam with flying colors. I had serious doubts about you, and even wondered at times what you were doing in this class. You don't always seem to have a lot going on upstairs. But apparently, you have learned something in my class, unless of course you cheated. Congratulations."
I'm genuinely sorry for all the physical pain she suffered, and actually I admire the creative ways she found to take it out on her students.
I am Coaster Punchman and you have just entered my world. I rule it with an iron fist, so if you're looking for First Amendment protection, you will not find it here. I have a now deceased crazy Chinese mother-in-law, and sometimes I wear Crocs around the house. I don't like flip-flops or Mormons. I'm also a cyberstalker by trade -- so I could look up all sorts of random shit about you if I wanted, but I probably won't because I'm pretty lazy.