The year I won a district wide creative writing contest in the fourth grade was awesome. I truly thought I was the shit because it was open to 4-6 graders and there was an official phone call home and an awards ceremony at one of the local high schools and prizes. And to what did I owe said win? To the most horrid woman ever. Let me tell you about her.
Ms. X (not her real name) was my elementary school health teacher and she was effing nuts. She was a largish woman, measuring about 7”10, and built like a lumberjack. She walked super straight and took every step with great force and determination. She also wore sensible black orthopedic shoes and had the straightest, brightest freakin’ teeth in the universe which she flashed every time she spoke because she was one of these characters who ee-nun-see-ay-ted every single syllable. She especially liked to flash her pearly whites when she was teaching us the importance of oral hygiene. I do believe this woman was related to Ms. Trunchbull in Roald Dahl’s Matilda for even the teachers gave us sympathetic looks as they led us to our forty-five minute torture session with Mrs. X every week.
Anyway, my dislike for Ms. X further deepened following the infamous line-whispering incident of 1988. This was when about four of us cadettes didn’t meet her military standards of how to properly stand in line before entering her classroom and were consequently made to stand in front of the room as she lectured the rest of our class about the dangers of turning out like the horrible, horrible children that stood before them. Then she called on each of us to sit down according to how well we imitated a nutcracker. One by one, I watched as my cohorts took their seats and looked on me with a mixture of awe and pity. I should mention, I get an uncontrollable urge to laugh at the most inappropriate times and while I did try to stifle my laughter, some giggles escaped and the woman almost blew her top. And when my teacher picked us up from health, Ms. X strongly encouraged I be put to sleep, or at least be given a week’s worth of detention.
So I guess it’s no real wonder that when my fourth grade teacher gave us the prompt for the writing contest (write a story about being three inches tall), I set my story in school and was struck with the fantastic idea to add an evil health teacher to the story! This was before I knew to change names in fiction, so I dropped Ms. X’s name all over the page and frantically wrote about how terrible she was. I went on and on about how poor three inch mini-me came face to shoe with her in the hall, how she chased me and laughed maniacally as she tried to squash me with her size 11 black orthopedic shoe. How I escaped only to get stuck in a piece of bubble gum and almost run over by the wheels of a runaway garbage bin. I had never before had so much fun writing and to this day, the infamous Ms. X lives on in my mind. It strikes me as ironic that in some way, perhaps even in a very large way, I owe my interest in creative writing to her.
So, thanks Ms. X and even though you were kind of a miserable ol’ bat made even more terrible by the imagination of a fourth grader, here’s hoping your feet aren’t shriveled up and your dentures are flashy as ever. 😉
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