Slide Show Day (Part One)Posted: December 3, 2012
A few years ago, I wrote a three part series of posts about how well I got along with my high school Italian teacher. This tale of woe involves the same cast of characters (me and that teacher) and tells of an annual joke that I got “credit” for but never ever had a role in.
Before I tell the tale (or before you go to read the original series of stories), I ought to issue a disclaimer. I loved my teachers back in high school…except for the one who taught italian.
Now, please read on, or go here to start at the beginning and put this tale into context.
The Annual Slide Show Stunt
Every year my high school Italian teacher would bring in two trays of photo slides taken during her family vacation to Rome. She would ask someone to set up the projector while she was in the hall between classes. The first year I saw the slides, the person who set up the projector took the opportunity to turn a few slides upside down. I had no part in this and did not even know it was done.
Each time she saw a slide come up upside down on the screen she would turn and stare at me. After about fifteen upside down slides she was livid. She ripped into me. I pointed out that it was impossible for me to have done what she accused me of. Nonetheless, I was tried and convicted.
I’d tell you that this tainted our teacher-student rapport, but there was no such connection.
Success Breeds Success…Or Something Like That
My friends loved this unplanned development. The whole point of turning the slides backward was to have a laugh at the teacher’s expense. The resulting explosive venting of rage upon me was a bonus that was comedy gold to them.
For days, people who witnessed her eruption would catch me in the hall between classes and imitate her screaming at me “I don’t know how you did it Omawarisan, but I know you did this.” We all got a laugh out of it, but deep down I was glad that slide show day only came once a year.
Did I Mention That Slide Show Day Came Once A Year?
The teacher gave the class a week’s notice of when she’d be bringing back the slide show in my junior year. The class reacted with mock glee and looked back toward me, grinning. I knew what was coming.
On slide show day, I stood outside the classroom until the last possible moment. The teacher eyed me warily as I took my seat. The slide show started with an upside down slide and a death glare aimed at me. The class roared. I tried not to show any emotion. I don’t know if that was the smartest thing to have done, but I guessed it was better than laughing.
The show went on. The person who turned the slides over did a masterful job. There was no real pattern, no way of knowing when the next upside down slide would appear on the screen. At the end of class, predictably, I was in trouble again.
I thought my idea of waiting in the hall until class started would have shifted suspicion away from me. No such luck.
And Then Came My Senior Year
Things were going well for me in my senior year. My grades were good (with the exception of Italian). We had a great season on the Cross Country Team. I’d been accepted to college. I had a job. I had a girlfriend, the prom was coming up.
Life was good.
Then the announcement of slide show day came. Life went from good to bleak. The day before, I’d contested a grade she gave me.
Contesting the grade did not go well. I walked away with the same grade and a threat to make sure I was suspended before the prom. Suspension at this point in the year also meant I would not be allowed to attend graduation.
Slide show day would be the end of me, I was sure of it. My parents had gone to bat for me with and about this teacher the entire time I was in school. I knew they’d fight for me if it came down to it, I just didn’t want to be in the position to explain how I’d been suspended for my graduation.
Buckley To The Rescue
Mr. Buckley was another teacher at the school. He was a little guy with boundless energy. His classes were popular because of who he was and the level of concern he had for his students.
There are a few adults from that stage of my life (beyond my parents) who I can point to as major influences in my life. Buck is on the top of that list. He taught American History, coached cross country and track. In the midst of learning from Mr. Buckley about the founding fathers and the value of a strong race finishing kick, I learned a ton about myself. I made it a point to take one of his classes in my senior year. I didn’t need the credit from that class, I just enjoyed him that much.
In addition to being a great guy, Buckley saved my senior year.
(see you here Wednesday for the rest of the story)