When I was young, I thought everybody spoke lots of different languages and moved house at a moments notice. My Father and I used to play this game...one person asks a question in a language of their choosing. The other answers in a Different language and so the game continues. Bonus points for Romanische languages. I was also allowed, nay actually encouraged, to ask questions like "how do you calculate the arc of trajectory if YOU are the object in motion?" Lo, and behold, people would try to answer those questions. Thoughtfully, with equations and theorems. Drawings on small pieces of paper. I took notes. I loved these games.
Then came the year my world changed. Fourth grade. We had a new teacher. She was from a state called Texas. It was rumored (never confirmed) that she had fled the state after a nasty Beauty pageant travesty, leaving her banned from pageantry forever. Before Ms. G. arrived on the scene we had been referred to by our first names, treated like citizens with brains. For some reason, she insisted on ending absolutely every sentence with a comma, followed by a gender reference. "Good morning, young lady." This drove me batty. I decided she couldn't remember our names and was using this ruse until she could memorize the seating charts. Oh no.
She was appalled that the young ladies in her charge were playing (gasp) baseball on the playground. With the young gentlemen. Sliding into second base was decidedly unladylike, and must be stopped. Since my career goals at the time included being the first woman to play outfield for my beloved San Francisco Giants, it was clear that we were NOT going to get along. She asked me if I really thought that was realistic. I replied that in the off season I'd be doing experimental research in Theoretical Physics. She gave me five demerits for talking back and called my parents. Fortunately my Father answered the phone that day and asked her if she'd ever actually SEEN me play baseball.....or looked in my Physics notebooks. I think she gave my Dad ten demerits and spoke to my Mother from then on. My Mother was absolutely delighted with Ms. G... FINALLY someone who could help her enforce the "girls should wear dresses and remain UPRIGHT on the playground" rules.
I was distraught. Truly. I threw myself in my room every afternoon and swore I was running away and NEVER going back to that school again. My Father consoled me by letting me spend more time in the garage where the truly interesting stuff was happening. (More on this in another Post.)
I continued to earn demerits at school and retreated further into my Scientific Studies. One day, the "young gentleman" who sat behind me (every year since kindergarten), and teased me mercilessly about whatever came to mind, called me the Teacher's PET. To say that I went ballistic would be the understatement of the Year. I stood up and in PERFECT Italian (which I knew for a fact was spoken in HIS home) WITH the appropriate hand gestures, told him just how (ahem) little of a not-so-perfect gentleman he was. Thank GOD for PF Flyers....I ran out of the classroom, with Vinnie (not his real name) hot on my Heels. HOT, as in Insulted Italian Male. I ran straight for the ball field. By now the classroom monitors were blowing their whistles as our entire class streamed out to engage in what is now referred to as a Bench Clearing Brawl. I ran around the chain link backstop, Vinnie just behind me. I waited a split second and JUST as HE ran behind the backstop, I ran UP the chain links in my PF Flyers and trapped him underneath as the whole thing came crashing down. I stood on him. triumphant.(That's Leverage, by the way :) Mentioned a few more choice phrases I had learned from the Italian sailors in my childhood.....Everyone stopped. Dead in their tracks. I glared defiantly. The boys began to clap, the girls did the happy dance. (Vinnie was a bully of some renown). Ms. G. came on the scene. Not one of those women who RUN, heaven forbid, she GLOWED. She commanded me OFF of the backstop. Helped Vinnie up. Sent everyone back to the classroom, except for me.
I didn't care much what my punishment was going to be. A year in the brig for insubordination would have suited me just fine. She said to me slowly..."You know, dear girl...(ACK!)...there are perfectly good English words to be used in these situations. You will refrain from using any other language in my classroom from now on, young lady." I spluttered something about how she just did NOT understand. There were lots of instances when the perfect word just does not exist in the English language. "Like now, Miss Smarty?" Yes like now, I replied. "And what WORD would be appropriate for RIGHT NOW which has no English Equivalent, dear child?"
Without hesitating, I looked her straight in the eye and said "Guillotine".
Silence....long, protracted, Silence.
"YOU", she said through gritted perfectly white Miss America wanna-be teeth,
"are a Danger, girl."
Two weeks later, on that very same playground, as I was leaving the Monkey Bars in an arc I had previously calculated the trajectory of, we learned that President Kennedy had been Assassinated.
Do you remember where you were?
This is Danger Girl, reporting LIVE....for the History Channel.