Tuesday, January 15, 2008

19x365: Mr. Clarke with an e

Grade 4 in his class was the first year we had letter grades - a rude awakening. I hated him from the start for being a bit of a hardass, but my second year in the same class wasn't as bad. He earned my respect with his uncharacteristic choice to choose the side of a guy in my class who was caught picking his nose. I wouldn't have said it at the time, but the poor guy had already taken enough ridicule from the other students by that point.

At one point Mr. Clarke decided to start reading us a book. I can't remember the book, but it had something to do with a juvenile delinquent being taken in and taught to fish for shrimp by a black man from Florida. I don't think we finished it, but from my seat in the front row, I had a good view of his ear hair. He had some of the most fantastic ear hairs.

After grade 5 he suddenly retired, telling us he was going to golf for the rest of his days. I saw him a year later, in Costco. I hid behind a clothing rack and watched as he picked up one pair of slacks, and then another, and then one in each hand, weighing them. Two weeks later he died suddenly. I never learned the cause.