Good morning. My name is Mr. Karp, and I'll be taking attendance.
My fifth grade teacher's name was Betty Davis. She was 25 years old, really hot, rumored to be rich (she certainly dressed like it), and her approach to teaching was like nothing I've seen before or since.
One afternoon she stood up at the blackboard and gave the class a three hour lecture on a subject I am sure was not in her pre-approved lesson plan.
She taught us everything a ten-year-old could possibly want to know about sex. Years later, I discovered that I learned more at ten than most guys knew at 35. It was wrong, wrong, wrong... but God, it was awesome.
Oh, and did I mention that Mrs. Davis would bring candy to school every day? And not penny candy, either. The expensive stuff they sold in big boxes, like Bridge Mix or Whitman's Samplers. At snack time she'd give these incredibly tempting delights to all the girls... and to any boy who was willing to let her kiss him.
A lot of boys would run. Literally. Not being the kind of educator who takes no for an answer, Mrs. Davis would chase the boys around the classroom until she caught them, often pinning them to a desk or the floor, so she could plant a big fat red lip print on whatever part of their squirming faces she could land on.
I swear I am not making this up.
I liked chocolate-covered empty carbs as much as the next kid, but it really was creepy. I'm sure these days the lawyers have a different word for it. My point is, that even though fifth grade was eons ago, I never forgot Betty Davis.
And while none of my other teachers ever came as close on the Impressionability Scale as Mrs. Davis, decades later I still remember almost every single one of them by name. Eighth grade was easy: Virginia Hamm. But I also remember the less memorable names like Florence Horowitz, Edna Waller, and Rita Frazier.
But here's what I don't remember. From kindergarten through high school I can't remember the name of one single substitute teacher. I'm sure over the years I had dozens. Hundreds, maybe. But I can't remember one of them.
I do, however, remember having a lot of laughs at their expense. In high school, The Substitute would come in, write her name on the blackboard, and since she never had the class roster, she would pass around a yellow pad asking everyone to write their name down, so she could take attendance.
Then she'd read from the list, so she could match a face to the name. Eventually, she'd get to the name I wrote down.
"Dick Hertz," she would say.
No answer. Just a few muffled snickers.
"Dick Hertz," she would say again, a little louder.
No answer. But the snickers would be more audible.
Exasperated, she would fold her arms across her chest and in her sternest, I-May-Be-A-Sub-But-Don't-Mess-With-Me voice, she would yell out, "Now for the last time, I want to know who's Dick Hertz."
At which point all the boys would grab their crotch and moan, "Mine does, mine hurts a lot," and all further hopes of winning over the respect of the class would be dashed.
Clearly, there was a little bit of Bart Simpson in me back in the day, but where, you may wonder, am I going with these ramblings?
I have decided that being a Guest Blogger at Powells.com is like being a Substitute Teacher at Memorial High School.
Nobody's going to remember my name or what I say, because the highlight of this entire experience is going to be when I take attendance.
So, if you're still reading this, I'm going to pass around a yellow pad. Sign your name, and at the end of the week, I'll throw a dart at the names, and one of you will get to be a character in the third Lomax and Biggs book.
Okay, it's not a real yellow pad, it's digital. You can either sign up by clicking on the comment link below or by writing to email@example.com.
And one more thing... the best way for me to write the next four blogs would be to answer some interesting questions.
I have no plan to write about global warming, Joe Torre's future as the manager of the Yankees, or give you a surprise lecture on what I've learned about sex since fifth grade. So, if you have a question, please raise your hand. I write better when I actually have something to say.
Which means that now two of you can be characters in my next book. One for the best question. And one at random, just for signing the attendance sheet.
It goes without saying that Betty Davis and Dick Hertz are not eligible.
? Marshall Karp