Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Conversations with Random People: Thirteen

I was riding the bike westward on Jefferson Street, homeward bound.  As I approached Green Street, I saw a woman hastening toward me on the sidewalk.  She raised a hand and I stopped, put my foot on the curb.  "My God," she exclaimed, "are you still alive?"

I've had this happen before, but this time I was ready.  "Shouldn't I be?"

She did not answer the question but blathered on, "You were my math teacher in junior high!"

"Yep," I averred.  "Forty years ago, no, forty-five years ago."

"The lady you married, Mrs. S.  I had her for PE.  Whatever happened to her?"

"She died seventeen years ago.  Cancer.  Two years of treatment, but. . ." I let the thought trail off.

"Sorry.  Sometimes the treatments are as bad as the disease.  I love this house!"  We were standing in front of a house which is on the market.

"I am just crazy about that pool," she told me.

"Salt-water pool," I told her.

"I know.  If I had this place I'd be skinny dipping in there every night."

Thanks, Lady, for putting that image into my head.  Note that there are no quotation marks around that.

"My wife loves it, too.  I told her we could buy it, but then we would have to move."

"Wait,"  the lady said.  "This house was built in 2009.  You just said your wife died seventeen years ago."

"Right, and right.  I have remarried."

A look of disbelief flashed momentarily across her face as she held up her left hand displaying three fingers.  "Three wives?  You have been married three times?"

"Three wives," I replied, holding up three fingers myself.

Well, we talked on for some time, looking over the figurative railing at the waters of time that had flowed under the bridge lo, those many years ago.  Then I said, "I have to ask your name."

"No problem."  She told me the name by which I knew her long ago.

"Sure, I remember that little girl."

Anyway, a few more pleasantries, she made as if to leave, offered me her hand, which I took briefly.  "Can I call you David?" she asked.

"Of course.  You don't have to call me 'Mister,"'

"Can I call you Dave?"


"Well, then."  The woman turned and walked away, not giving me the opportunity to explain that it was nothing personal.  It is just that I am not Dave.



Secondary Roads said...

And that the way it is . . .

vanilla said...

Chuck, indeed it is.

Grace said...

And I am not 'Gracie'...(and this woman was entirely graceless...)

vanilla said...

Grace, not a great deal of tact, but I cut her some slack since she was thirteen when she was my student, I thirty-five and I suppose she imagined that I had one foot in the grave then. ;-)

Lin said...

Hmmmm. Call me old-school, but I could not and do not call adults from my youth by their first name EVER. I just cannot. Even if they tell me to call them by their first name.

My high school swim coach recently died and I sent his wife a note--she was another teacher at the school. I am 51 years old and I still addressed it to Ms. McKay. I'm sure she found it odd, but to cross that line would make us equals....and we were not. It's all about respect.

I don't like the loss of respect.

vanilla said...

Lin, I understand and respect where you are coming from, to which I will add that the large majority of people I was associated with in the schools-- students, parents, and teachers, call me "Mister" to this day. I don't object to those who choose to call me "David."

Vee said...

Most of my students thought I was really old - even when I was (in my opinion) quite young. I also guessed that my teachers were old. I was surprised that my second grade teacher, Miss Ramsey, was still alive after I was well into adulthood.

I have no problems with what I'm called unless one of my former college students addresses me as, Dr. Powers. I always tell them I would like for them to call me Verla now. Some take the suggestion, some don't.

While I was teaching college classes, the first day of each semester I put a list on the board of ways they might address me. "Dr. Powers, Professor Powers, Mrs. Powers, and Verla." They knew first thing that I wasn't hung up on the little stuff. (The person who had the office next door to mine would go off on a student who did not use her title. She always responded to this terrible insult by saying, "To you, I'm Doctor _______. Thank you."

vanilla said...

Vee, English teacher in college: You may call me Miss Laughbaum or Doctor Laughbaum. Eye-ther is correct.