I brought my laptop with me to work today, so I wouldn’t have to type this all out on the phone. Plus, I’m hoping to be able to do some of the programming work later, if things are slow today. It’s the last of the 12 hour shifts, but next week, I start working from 1500 hours to 2300 hours. I can’t win… Whine, whine, whine…
Back to the Gifted Teacher…
Lanie and I tried to let the air out of his tires. In my eighth grade brain, I thought removing the caps on the tires would automatically allow them to deflate, but Lanie cleared that one up for me. We tried, but failed, thank God. It was such a stupid thing to do, not just because of potential damage to Mr. Kim, but because of what it might have done to other people on the road. In this day and age, if a kid did something like that, they’d probably be locked up and tried as an adult. But I won’t get on my soapbox and get side-tracked.
We had to walk all the way around the front of the building, and we nearly got away with it, but someone (Andrew?) ratted us out.
I answered the phone when he called my mother. I knew exactly why he was calling, and I sheepishly handed the phone to her.
I couldn’t quite make out the words, standing there as my mother listened to that pompous windbag rant. I thoroughly expected to be in trouble, but when she put the receiver back in place, my mother burst out laughing. She told me after, between fits of laughter, what he had said. I was “rambunctious,” the “ring-leader of the group,” and that we “went outside, which was a no-no.” In a minute long conversation over the phone, my mother developed precisely the same opinion of the man that I had. He was a pompous windbag.
Lanie and I clearly had to be punished. Our punishment was interesting. We were admonished and excommunicated from the class… banished to the food service room next door, where we were to work independently on assigned projects. As Lanie had not yet had the opportunity to write a collegiate research paper, that was her task. Since there had been no takers with the whole AIDS/HIV paper the first go-round, Mr. Kim took no chances and assigned that topic to her. So Lanie got to read about anal sex and condoms, and fisting. Completely appropriate topic for a seventh grade girl.
I was given a copy of the Good Earth to read, but not given a deadline.
Gifted met twice a week, and I wasn’t exactly clear in my first writing about this – we were bused over from Chicken Coop Middle to the Abandoned Old High School twice a week, half days. One of the half days was a morning session, the other an afternoon session.
She and I would sit in the 1950s style booths, mostly talking, sometimes reading, though I was reading cheesy slightly smutty novels instead of the Good Earth, just on principle, because now I was a full fledged rebel with a sense of power. I learned about anal sex and condoms right along with Lanie, who couldn’t keep all that great knowledge to herself.
Eventually, we were both given deadlines. I actually had to read the Good Earth. It was far smuttier than the cheesy novels I had been reading, and stirred my feminist ire when Wang Lung’s wife, the woman who had worked beside him in the fields, bore his children, and pulled his ass out of poverty, was forced to give Wang Lung the only thing she had ever kept for herself – two pearls she wore tucked inside her bosom – so that he could give them to some harlot who satisfied his old-man-lust.
Inadvertently, Mr. Kim had taught me to appreciate assigned reading. A love for the classics remained with me to this day, so I suppose he did something right…
Upon reading the book, I was to be given a test that would touch on general knowledge from the book. He said it wasn’t going to ask specific details. Which is precisely why one of the questions was about the color of the teapot in part of the novel. I knew the correct answer. I also had to write a paper. I wrote it neatly… in pencil.
You know how you always think of the perfect comeback after someone says something to you? This time, I had the smart-ass answer all ready before he even made the statement. It was the whole reason I’d written the report in pencil.
“You should have written it with a pen. This looks unprofessional.”
“Am I getting paid?”
Silence. Mr. Kim had to reboot. Flustered, he finally stated that my grade was my payment. He counted off a few points for the choice of pencil vs. pen.
I don’t recall if the exile ended and we were brought back into the class at that point, or if we were moved straight into the room across the hall. I also don’t recall the timeline over whether he found out about the fish tank before or after the initial banishment. Lanie’s little sister told a friend, who told a friend, who told Mr. Kim… But he did find out.
We were moved to a classroom across the hall, no more food service room. We were given something else to work on. Then came the day when Lanie brought the disappearing ink.
I don’t remember what we were working on. Whatever it was, we had borrowed the precious Pentel correction fluid pen. Mr. Kim had that pen for over three years, and it was still just as good as the day he bought it. My goal was to use up anything left inside. That actually proved about as easy as deflating Mr. Kim’s tires, but I was quite determined.
We pressed so hard on both the tip and the squeeze part that we had the white liquid flowing in a big mess on the page.
But the use of the disappearing ink proved the straw that broke the camel’s back.
The ink disappeared, like it was supposed to, but Mr. Kim could barely contain himself.
When my mother received the second phone call, she did not find it so amusing. I got the lecture I had earned. I may even have been grounded, but it’s not like I went anywhere anyway… In the end, it was worth it. And yes, he bitched about how we had used up his three year old correction fluid pen. I think he went into mourning.
Adam, who is six years younger than I am, had Mr. Kim, too. Adam found that Mr. Kim tended to favor the children of wealthy parents, much in the same way I had noticed a degree of sexism. Adam, too, used up a pen. By then, it was established tradition…
Mr. Kim still bragged about his PBS television guide that he had earned with his $50 donation to PBS. (Um, couldn’t you just buy a TV Guide Magazine subscription for less than that?) He was ever the same pompous windbag, until Adam’s father beat the crap out of him at Walmart. (Adam’s dad had some issues… We will leave it at that.)
My best friend’s daughter went to a different school, and was in gifted. Guess who? Mr. Kim was her teacher as well. I told her not to mention me, as it would not win her any brownie points. The assault in Walmart had not improved his disposition.
He is probably still floating around in the school district, preaching the benefits of Pentel’s correction fluid pen (I prefer those correction tapes…) and making kids write reports about butt-sex.
My parting thought: was his Popeye arm the one he used for fisting?