When I first started teaching at my English school four years ago, there were six of us – myself, another American, an Englishwoman, a guy from South Africa, and a mother and daughter duo from Australia. It was the Australian mom you had to watch out for – exuberant, warm, and lusty, her joyfully wicked laughter ringing throughout the school. That magical laughter of hers was like a call to prayer; I’d hear those wild cackles through the walls and ditch my own class to scurry over to her room – Violet! What are you up to now? -only to find her and her students doubled over onto their desks – roaring, red-faced and gasping for air – and Violet, pointing at the board, upon which she’d scrawled: PUSSY BALLS MINGE DICK ARSE TWAT BOOBS CUNT
Oh, Violet. Again?
They asked, Eva! Giggles, tears pouring helplessly down her face. THEY ASKED!
We had nearly a hundred students and saw them on a rotating basis, so it was hard to keep track of who was who. We would often find ourselves unable to place them, or even remember their names. I’d have preferred to just be done with it and refer to them all by “Mario” and “Maria” but Violet had a more sophisticated system: on each of their student cards, she’d scribbled identifying traits, such as OLD, BALD, BIG EYES, BEARD, WEARS GLASSES, or HAS BEEN TO AUSTRALIA. It was a system that worked for her, that jogged some sort of memory trigger when she saw the card and could then remember the student, but her mnemonics remained a mystery to the rest of us – “ITALIAN MAN”; yeah, that narrows it down – and I could never shake the fear that one day, one of them was going to casually look over and see BALD AND OLD written next to their name.
When Violet stopped teaching at our school, the rest of us were forced to get along somehow.
You know who really gave me a hard time today?
You know him! He’s the marine biologist with the six daughters who always shows up wearing pink sunglasses.
I have no idea who that is.
Long gray beard. From Sezze.
Drives a yellow Ferrari.
I’ve never laid eyes on that person in my life.
Come on! He refuses to study, then fails all the tests and says it’s our fault.
OH, right, that guy. Well, you know who I LOVE?
OHMYGODYES. I want a poster of him on my bedroom wall. I want to be his friend in real life!
If only they would give us a hand and do something to really distinguish themselves. Like spontaneously conjugate a verb. Like pronounce the goddamn H. Like bring us presents. Champagne and dolci secchi. Small fuzzy yellow chicks.
But no one ever thinks of the teachers.