Thursday, August 23, 2018

We suck is a hard lesson.

Mrs. Trautwein (I’m not sure of the spelling) was my 7th grade English teacher at Johnston Jr. High in Houston. Her classroom was in what were referred to as one of the "temporary buildings," wooden buildings on pylons -- with two rooms sharing a common porch and set of steps. I failed English that year. I am forever in her debt.

She allowed me to write.

I didn’t write what she wanted me to. I was called up to her desk numerous times; the conversation was always the same.

When told to write, even when given a specific topic, I always found a way to twist my response in a way that allowed me to talk about our detrimental effect on the planet and its other inhabitants.

That was in 1965 or 66 (I’m not good with dates.)

She’d say, “Rick. Rick, Rick.”

She had very short hair. It was dark, maybe with a peppering of gray. Her face was round and pock-marked from acne. The hair on her face was a thick soft pelt; it’s funny the things we remember.

I don’t know how it got into my head. I recall reading lots of nature books -- or at least the captions -- and I’d been reading novels since I was ten. Mostly science fiction, so it’s likely some were dystopias.

My recurring unwavering theme in response to Miss. Trautwien’s many writing assignments was my worry that we would develop space travel. I did and do envision the possibility as strongly parallel to the biology of viruses; consuming our hosts and using them to scatter our spore; or in the case of us, scatter humans, to the detriment of our next host.

I wonder if she got it or just wrote it off as the angst of a twelve or thirteen-year-old boy?

In any case, I’m glad I had her as a teacher.

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