Listening in class was my strong suite. I had it down to a science. Since my teachers repeated themselves so often, I could perk up about once every five minutes, take a few notes, and then go back to whatever I was doing, without significant consequences to my grade.
This annoyed some teachers to no end. They didn’t want us to just know the material and get good grades. They wanted us to sit up straight and look attentive and respectful. Our 9th grade parsha teacher even started the year with lessons on how she expected us to sit in class. (I think she phrased it “how a bais Yaakov girl sits in class.”) I slouched in class and doodled or wrote stories. This did not endear me to her at all.
One teacher was particularly egregious. She informed us, first day of 9th grade, that her Chumash class was the most important class we would ever take, except her Tefilla class in 12th grade. (She may have made a small exception for Halacha as well.) She then proceeded to spend the entire first day on the first Rashi in Shemos. By the time 20 minutes had gone past, she’d repeated that Rashi about 10 times.
I wanted to be on my best behavior because it was the first day of school. But I was dying. So, as deviously as I could, I slid a blank sheet of paper under my chumash and started drawing.
At the end of 8th grade, my friends and I were drawing a comic strip starring ourselves as school-age superheroes fighting for justice for students in the educational system. We used our superpowers and awesome technology to take on monsters like the Evil Ed, who wielded a mighty Board. (Yes, I kid you not. It was pretty bad.) So I drew a few frames and picked up where we’d left off.
You can imagine my dismay, then, when my sheet of paper was ripped out from under my pencil and whisked into the air, where it was waved above a (rightfully) enraged teacher’s head. It was the first day of school, and already I had the chutzpah to be doodling during class.
She threw open the classroom doors and marched across the hall to the Rebbetzin’s office to show her what I’d been up to during the most important class of high school (except halacha and tefilla). Luckily, the Rebbetzin wasn’t in. Unwilling to delay her teaching further, the teacher ripped up the cartoon and dumped it in the Rebbetzin’s trash can.
And that’s how I wound up dumpster diving in the principal’s garbage can on the first day of school.
This was all lead up to a story that actually takes place in Tefilla class. That’s next post.