Best Birthday Present Ever

I was a straight-A, award winning, honors student right up until 5th grade, when my life fell apart for reasons I may discuss one day.  Maybe here — not now.  Now I am going to talk about a really stupid teacher.

My 1st grade teacher was stupid enough to blame me for something I didn’t do. Really, this woman was as dumb as it is possible to be.  Young.  Pretty. STOO-PID.  She once told my mother that my sister wasn’t very bright.  What kind of idiot says that to a parent?  And my sister is very bright.  Fuck that teacher.  I shall call her…Miss Fluffy-brain.

Here is the story of my saga with Miss Fluffy-brain.  It happened on my birthday.  During recess. I was walking on the playground, some distance from the building.  I saw some boys bang on the classroom windows and run away. A moment later, Miss FB (omg — I just got that — it was not intended!) threw open the window, saw me — and again let me say that you could not get more goody-two-shoes than I was — and blamed me because “there was no one else around who could possibly have done it.”

I guess she had never heard of boys banging on things and running away. Ding dong ditch must have taxed her mental facilities to the breaking point.  I protested to no avail.  She simply did not believe me.  It flew in the face of all rational possibility that I would have done such a thing — I was SO GOOD.  However, as I said, she was not capable of considering the idea that there might be another explanation.
Miss FB gave me detention after school.  My grandmother was picking me up that day. That was RARE.  Actually, it was UNPRECEDENTED. She was no cookie-baking grandma, no Yiddishe bubbe.

My grandmother always had a cigarette in one hand, a drink in the other, a rich man on one arm, another rich man in reserve, and a polished gay man whispering secrets in her ear.  She liked things to run smoothly.  She sure as hell was not pleased when she showed up at school and I was not waiting out front for her.
The aroma of Ysatis — the click of heels on elementary school floors — Grandma was there, standing in the doorway, looking at Miss Fluffy-brain.  I had been staring forlornly out the window (that same window upon which I had not that day nor had I ever banged) and I saw Miss FB see Grandma before I saw Grandma herself.

Grandma checked her Cartier Tank watch.  Grandma looked at the clock. Grandma spoke.

She was there to pick up her grandchild for her birthday. Why was she still in the classroom?  Surely the teacher KNEW it was the child’s birthday.  Surely she knew someone would be by to collect her.  Surely there was some protocol in place, such as alerting the front office, so that people didn’t have to wander the length and breadth of the school searching for first-graders who were not where they were supposed to be.  And why was the child not where she was supposed to be?   She was sure there was some…reason.

Poor Miss FB.   She wilted.  She crumpled.  She collapsed in on herself like a paper disintegrating in a fire.  I had found it impossible to get her to listen before.  She now found it nearly impossible to speak.  Finally she found her tongue and this incredibly stupid teacher said to 8 year old me, “Why didn’t you tell me it was your birthday?”

Oh, lord.

A couple of years ago, after spending 96 years on earth, my grandmother decided to leave this plane of existence to see how she could kick the ass of whatever lay beyond it (while looking spectacular, of course).  So odds are, you will never run into her.  But you never know.  So…if you smell that Ysatis and she asks you a question, do NOT answer it by speaking to somebody else.  Particularly if that someone else is a child.  Don’t.  Please don’t.
No one had been around to tell Miss FB this, however.  Thus she made her blunder and put that ridiculous question to me.  Why HADN’T I told her it was my birthday?  Well, I was in first grade.  I probably assumed she knew. And didn’t care.  Or maybe I didn’t assume anything.  I know what I did think at the time, however.  It is what ALL children think.  Children believe adults are infallible.  They believe that when adults hurt them, the adults know exactly what they are doing and they are doing it ON PURPOSE.  And any good teacher should know this.

Miss FB was not a good teacher.

Miss FB expected rational logic from an 8 year old when she herself had acted completely irrationally and without any logic whatsoever. As I said — see the sentence before the one preceding this.  Or the one after it.

Miss FB was profoundly ill-suited for her job.


My grandmother did not say those words.  My grandmother said nothing else, not deigning to waste valuable words on a person so incapable of understanding them.  And no other words were spoken  until my grandmother extended her hand.


“Come, child. You don’t have to be here any longer.”


Grandma and I walked right out of the classroom.  I believe Miss FB was apologizing, but I didn’t hear a word she said.  I didn’t have to listen.

Best birthday present ever.

Best Birthday Present Ever