Now that I am old enough to collect my retirement pension I have a secret confession to make: I was in love with my fourth-grade teacher. She was a tall lady who looked like a dancer with smooth skin and eyes like doughnuts with a look that made you feel she knew more than she let on. As we sat reading our history book or doing math problems I’d feel bored until her eyes fell upon me. Then I’d hasten to catch up. That wasn’t too hard because I’d usually done the work a few days before. My mother wanted me to keep ahead of the class, but my real motive was that I never wanted my teacher to feel I’d let her down.
She excelled at motivating; as she stood in her Nordstrom dress she’d tell us we were just as smart as she. Her job was not to “teach us” she’d say; it was to bring out the ability she knew we all had. She’d do this by making games out of our lessons. We had contests to see who earned special compliments from her each day. I don’t know if she knew how I felt about her – I tried to be as manly as a 10-year old could – since I only showed it once. That was when I found a Groupon promo code for a discount at Nordstrom. To prove I knew the percentages she taught us in our math lessons I calculated the amount saved using a Groupon for a 60% discount on dresses at a sale Nordstrom was having. I figured it step-by-step on paper, just as she demonstrated to us in the classroom. I still don’t know why she blushed, or what others found so funny, even if the dress I chose for that exercise was just like one she often wore.
My parents laughed about it. I wasn’t happy about folks discussing my feelings – after all, it was my life they were gabbing about like some TV soap opera. I promised never to let anyone know how I felt about anything or anybody again. It was a resolution I kept faithfully, at least until my high school prom. By then my fourth-grade teacher was a distant memory. But I sometimes wonder what she did with the candy hearts I gave her as a present when I graduated from primary school.