Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Age 14: the year the Titanic sunk, I got in trouble, and our teacher retired early.

This continues the story of my life.  Remember how I was going to do 33 instalments in 30 days and it took me 4 months to get to 14?  Good times.  Go here to read about being 13 and here to find the other stories.

The year I turned 14, I entered high school.  I spent the summer terrified because of horror stories of Freshie week and the meanness of Senior girls.  I figured I would enter the school not knowing anyone, not knowing where I was going, and that I would spend the next 4 years trapped in a locker somewhere strapped into a coconut bra and covered in Silly String.

Instead, I arrived at school with 4 other friends (two who had attended Grade 8 at the school) and found my home room with minimal fuss.  I was sat in order of my name and looked around at the students whom I would spend significant amounts of time with over the next few years.  A very handsome red head sat in front of me, a creepy tall guy sat behind me, and the rest was a sea of awkward teens.  I did manage to make a few good friends in that class, but it took me awhile.

Our home room group went to almost every class together.  There was little choice that first year of what you wanted to learn versus what "they" felt you should learn.  We all sat through Mr. Seimans' math class, Mr. Tidball's drafting, and Mr. Heliwell's science.  But the worst of it all was Mrs. Forreiter's English class.

I only write her name because I'm pretty sure she's dead by now.  She was a hundred if she was a day at that time and she must have been a drill sergeant in her past life because she was not taking crap from anyone.  She had an outfit for every day rotated through the week.  Blouse, calf length skirt, sensible heels.  You knew it was Tuesday by the colour.

She taught us all the things Freshmen should know -- Greek mythology, poetry, Shakespeare.  At least, I think she did, because I don't remember any of it.  I do remember that her class was the first time I read about the Titanic.  A Night to Remember was on the must read list for every teen and we were no exception.  I loved it.  Nothing better than a story about doomed travellers.  It enthralled me the way no other heartbreaking story had since Anna Anderson and the Tsarina.  I loved that book, but could have done without the rest of it.  Well, except the tormenting the teacher part.

Although Mrs. Forreiter didn't take guff from anybody, we sure tried to give it to her.  Our class specialized in tormenting her.  Since her eyesight wasn't the greatest, we scattered white cherry bombs on the floor between rows to make her jump when she would step on one unaware.  One student, when handed a test, stood up and tore the exam (starting at the top corner) into a paper spiral while she stood there mouth agape.

One particularly harried and horrible day, I stormed into class.  I tossed my books onto my desk and threw myself into my chair as only 14 year old girls can do.  Mrs. Forreiter came up beside me, calmly told me to pick up my books, leave the room, and enter again without the attitude.  I stood up, picked up my books, came back into the room, and threw my books with such force it overturned the desk.  I spent the rest of the class in the hallway to "think about what I had done".

At the end of the year, Mrs. Forreiter announced her surprise retirement.  She hadn't planned to retire for a few more years, but decided "enough was enough". 



  1. Its a family thing. Your mother's class tormented one of their teachers until he quit. My whole school tormented one of the nuns until she quit. I think children are just naturally animals that destroy anything weak. Pack mentality.

  2. 14 year old girls are awesome and being moody!

    I always hated it when teachers would ask you to do something over "without the attitude." Really? That was pretty much an impossible request.

  3. I know it was in Grade 11 we made our English teacher cry, she stormed out of the room and we never saw her again for the rest of the school year. We then found out she had a nervous breakdown and had to spend some time in the "hospital". Oops.


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