Saturday I was at a graduation party for a babysitting charge all grown up with her masters, which is another story of itself. But I had forgotten that my mom and her neighbor were now exercise buddies in an exercise boot camp, and all the women were there celebrating my mom’s neighbor’s daughter. One of these women cornered me and talked with me. She was so excited to meet me. Then even more excited to find out I was a drama nerd in high school. And even more excited to find out who my teacher was.
Woman: You had L?! How exciting! I’m friends with L. We were drama teachers together. I just was at a different school.
Me: F was great. A wonderful teacher. I’m sorry she retired before my senior year. I would’ve loved to had her that last year.
Woman: I’ll have to tell L I ran into you. She’ll be happy to know all about you and what you’ve done.
Me: I’m sure she doesn’t remember me.
Woman: We remember our favorites. Those special kids that stick out.
Me: Well, I’m sure that’s true. But F was a teacher for so long, and I had only 3 years.
Woman: Oh, she’ll remember you. You said you owned the Shop? Then she’ll remember you.
Me: (laughed uncomfortably) Well, give her my best. She was a wonderful teacher. Even if she doesn’t remember me.
I know I was memorable to some teachers. Just not to F. I was memorable to some high school teachers. Like my chem/swim coach (for the first two years of high school). I bugged him at least once a week for three years with some random science question or another. When I presented my project on using the names of 20 elements of the periodic table (“Because I know not all of you will go into fields where you need this. Just do something with the names.”), he claimed I was the most energetic presenter he’s ever had. (I did a radio show with characters, settings, props, and even ads with the element names.) Or my second year Spanish teacher. I was horrible in Spanish. I cheated on the tests. I would be in the middle of my essay when I would want a word we didn’t know yet, would panic and then slowly open my dictionary. I’m sure I wasn’t smooth, and I’m sure just reading my essay gave me away. But my teacher would compliment me on my writing and my doodles and encouraged me to come back, even after I graduated his class, to show him my latest writing or art work.
And let’s not forget the college professors I endeared myself to. Like my favorite English professor, my intellectual crush, with whom I could dissect works of literature with or talk of classic cars. I wanted to name one of the boys after him, but I think, even after all those years, the sighing of his name put it on the Absolutely-Not-Over-My-Dead-Body list. Like my mentor, who said he could never forget this blonde freshman in the back corner sit on her desk on the first, and every, day to see over the big football player. And then to have her slide over the tables to sit inside the corner of the circle of tables to take his Revelations class because it was the last seat left. Like the Father, who graded my papers like a real editor and made me lead mass more times than I would ever want. Many more times. When he finally called me “mi hija,” I nearly danced in joy. That didn’t stop me from arguing with him the uselessness of Shakespeare or critiquing his class by giving him a list of works that would work better in the class. As a side note, a friend just mentioned how he nearly lost it in class when Father asked us each what book we had just finished reading, and I answered the Kama Sutra. “He’s a priest! Not just any priest! Your priest! You’re co-leader of the Catholic group!” Your point? I was being honest. (Father took it in stride and went on to tell us the similarities between Hinduism and Christianity.)
So, I know I’m memorable. I know I’ve been the favorite. But I just wasn’t F’s favorite.
Even though freshman year I became the youngest student to get certified to do lights and sound. But my best friend certified a month later and had a better schedule to work nights. Even though I was the youngest student she allowed to TA. But one of my friends joined me half way through the semester. Even though her favorite senior girls adored me and begged her to let me sleep in their room during the New York trip. But a junior girl dropped out, and the teacher wanted us all to have beds. Even though my best friend was quiet, shy little nerd, F called me my best friend’s shadow. My best friend was thrilled. Really? Me? Second fiddle? To a quiet, shy, conservative bookworm? I’m loud, outrageous, crazy, um, bookworm-nerd. Ok, so I was, am, a nerd. But I’ve always been loud and crazy. Energetic and – Just say, by the time I was in high school, I wasn’t a follower any more. I was no one’s shadow.
I didn’t really come into my own until my senior year. I took control of everything back stage. Unofficially. I ran the Shop. I was consulted on light and sound design. Any one with any question (about costumes, props, sets, colors, tools, whatever) knew to come to me. My reputation had been built over the years that I knew everything. I was The Boss. I was the Shop Master. I was that-little-bi-excuse-me-boys-did-you-have-something-to-say-to-me-but-before-you-do-do-you-remember-that-other-reputation-I-have-which-may-possibly-be-why-I-wear-boots-and-why-the-football-boys-give-way-to-me. Yeah, I thought not. Scurry along then.
If F remembers me, and I seriously doubt it, it would be because of what happened the last month of school of my junior year. Every year advanced drama did a talent show, which allowed everyone to perform and do something different or that they wanted to. Lots of monologues and singing. Magic tricks and pantomiming. Stand-up. It was a lot of fun. My junior year I wrote a one-act play and convinced some of my friends to do it. I convinced my best friend to do lights and sound. I argued one friend into the lead because he would be perfect.
But first I had to let F read it to make sure it was appropriate.
F: Fae. You wrote this?
F: Is it based on a true story?
Me: Well, it’s possibly a ghost story. Or the main character has delirium tremens and is hallucinating. He’s not a good man. He ordered that massacre. Does history know who was behind it? No. But that was a real town. The Cathars were a real people that the Catholic Church decided to silence during the Inquisition.
F: And you researched this?
Me: Yes. For two years. You know I went to Catholic school. When I got out, I was desperate to know what they didn’t tell us. The Inquisition was a two-sentence paragraph in our religion class.
F: I see. Fae, you have some real talent. You should consider writing more. Go ahead with it. Who are your actors?
I told her.
F: You might have trouble with your lead. He doesn’t work hard on things he doesn’t care about.
Me: I figured his ego would demand him to do it.
The last day of school, she gave her final awards ceremony of awards that she designed.
“To Fae: Our Playwright”
It came with pens and a thick note book.
F: Fae, keep writing. It’s what you do best.