Wed., April 4, 42 A.B.
Some days... ahh, some days, dear Reader, whole hours of my life are sucked up, chewed flat, and spat out by the crush I still have on my second grade teacher, Miss Davies.
Today was one of those days. No fewer than 3.78895 hours were forever lost to the contemplation of her irresistible way with a piece of chalk and the exquisite teacher-student relationship we once enjoyed.
Miss Davies was the first teacher I ever had who I felt understood me semi-completely. She certainly had a better shot at doing so than all subsequent teachers, since there were many pounds and inches less of me to understand back then, but that hardly explains her extreme superiority over the teachers I had had before. What was her secret? I don't know, but the fact that she had such a secret seems to have been revealed in everything from the rakish angle at which she had positioned her desk to that wavy brown hair of hers which always seemed to move right along with her head.
I used to do sums for Miss Davies - I admit it without shame. Math was then my favorite subject, and I shared my abilities with her every chance I got. After eagerly completing whatever addition problems she had assigned to us as class, I went on and completed whatever others I could find. And then I solved more of my own devising.
At night I even had an elderly neighbor come up with more, just so that I might share them with Miss Davies come the morn.
Miss Davies was quite impressed and smiled broadly the first time I placed a sheet of fresh summations on her desk (her rakishly angled desk!) before the start of class. The next day she was only slightly less encouraging, but by Monday of the following week... well, she could barely bring herself to glance down at my ardent scribbles.
Clearly, something more was required of me. And I struggled mightily to produce it. The length of my columns grew longer. The width of those numbers expanded into the billions, the trillions, and right on across the entire front of an 8.5" sheet of yellow Chief tablet paper into realms of enumeration I couldn't tell you the name of even if I were to see them again today. Naturally, my pencil strokes became ever bolder and more obvious as well.
For a day or two, something of her old smile came back to the general vicinity of her face, but still... it was never quite the same.
Miss Davies needed more - much more than a 7-year-old boy could ever give her. Even then, I knew that she needed more - that she needed a boy who could do multiplication and division and all the other things I wouldn't learn until the 3rd or 4th grade, if ever. She was, after all, what I would now call a "sophisticated lady."
Instead of competing in a realm of human endeavor I knew I could no longer succeed in to her lasting satisfaction, I ditched my pencil and tablet paper and tried to distract her from my obvious mathematical shortcomings by engaging her in witty repartee.
That witty repartee, as it turned out, came to mainly involve her father and my barber.
I'm not sure how these men ever became the subject of our conversation, but they did. Perhaps she asked me where I lived and I told her. Perhaps I volunteered my address. In any event, I lived quite near a barbershop, and she told me it was owned by her father.
Tingles ran up and down my spine when she revealed this secret connection between us. The thought of a hired hand of her father's actually cutting my hair made it seemed to me as if she and I had been secretly married by elves.
The very next haircut I got, I boasted to my barber (George, by name) that I knew the daughter of the man who owned his shop.
George looked stunned, then denied it. George said he knew no man named Davies, and that no such man owned or had ever had a share in his business establishment. At first I thought George said this merely because he had his own plans for my teacher and was jealous, and perhaps even wanted me to think her a terrible liar, but eventually I came to believe him. It is, after all, hard to continue to call a man liar when he has the power to "accidentally" snip off your ear.
The next conversation I had with Miss Davies, I causally mentioned that my barber, George, thought she was full of shit. Well, I didn't exactly use the word "shit," of course, but she immediately understood where I was coming from. Puzzled, she asked again where it was that I lived. And then she asked me to again describe the shop. I assured her I lived where I always had, and that the barbershop I was talking about had barber chairs and mirrors, and a front door - everything. I believe I even described the checkered linoleum floor I knew so well, thanks to having studied it for signs blood and snipped off ears for many years.
"That sure sounds like my father's place," she told me, rather wistfully. Why wistfully? I don't know. All I could think of at the time was that maybe some of the happiest moments of her life had involved playing in the odd piles of hair on the floor of her father's shop after he had dismissed his hired hands for the night and was counting up all the razors before going home for the night. Was it possible that she had even played once or twice in my own hair? That possibility didn't even occur to me until one night when I was drunk and in college. Whatever may have inspired my crush on her when I was 7, the possibility of her frolicking among my hair without my knowledge seems not to have been part of it....
Time, of course, moved on. Second grade became 3rd, and Miss Davies was replaced by Art Linkletter as the primary source of my education. And yet my crush endures. Although I've never been able to reconcile her and my barber's very different conceptions of reality, I've learned over the years not to let it bother me too much. Do I regret my lifelong inability to bring Miss Davies and George together and find out once and for all exactly who did own the barbershop I once lived near and at which I had my hair cut for nearly two decades? Sometimes. But the majority of the time, I find the will to go on living regardless.
Does that make my crush any less real?
I don't think so.
But even if it did, the fact remains that deep down in some landfill right now, there are sheets and sheets of yellow Chief tablet paper with a penciled monument to that crush on them.
Conclusive proof even now that that crush once existed, even if math has not been my favorite subject since about the time I turned 8.
Just grab a shovel and go see....
(© Nowadays by DJ Birtcher while taking a break from frantically
waving his hand in hopes that a certain teacher might call on him one more time)
NOTE: Today is Wednesday. Hump Day. The highest day of the week. It's all downhill from here. Even so, there's no denying that Wednesdays must be surmounted before the downhill slide can begin, and that doing so tends to give me nosebleeds unless I pass the height of the day in a reclining position. I don't mind - I'm not complaining - but because reclining positions render me easy prey for any nearby predators, I tend to be a bit more on edge than usual - well, a lot more on edge, actually - so please: If you can avoid making any sudden movements while reading this journal on Wednesday, I'd really appreciate it. If you simply must toy with or tease my peripheral vision, I ask only that you hold off until 12:01 a.m. Thursday. Thanks.