My history teacher became my first crush. He was the first male teacher that I had not feared. In elementary school I had only female teachers. While in high school up to this point, I had the terrible Mr. Kaufman for technical drawing in grade 8 and the slightly less menacing Mr. Destounis who taught grade 9 geometry. It is no wonder that I would have a crush on my history teacher. He was a 30 something year old man that was actually kind and considerate towards his students. From what I remember, he wasn't particularly good looking. He was tall and had reddish blond hair. Apart from that I can't remember much now, but back then I adored him and I wanted to please him in the best way that I knew how.
One thing that I had noticed was that he gave a lot of attention to a boy in the class by the name of Jerry. Jerry was your proverbial "nerd". I don't think that Jerry knew what it was to get a C in a course but I did. I got lots of them including in history. So this year to win the attention of my history teacher I had dreamed of getting an A and getting the recognition of the man I was so crazy about.
Although I had buckled down and started working harder I had not pushed myself to the limit. By the end of the first term I had managed to pull off a B but that was still not good enough to rise to level that Jerry had attained in the eyes of my history teacher. I was about to settle and accept the fact that I was a B student and not an A student no matter what my dreams and aspirations were when Jerry himself became the catalyst for change.
I will not deny it. I really did not care too much for Jerry. Jerry was a kid that never knew what it was like to fail at anything. He was the smartest student in all of grade 9 and he wore that badge with honour. Believe me, I could live with that but what I could not live with was his arrogance. He looked down on his peers and he looked down on me. Intellectually I was inferior to him and financially I was inferior as well. I came from a ghetto school in the toughest neighbourhood in the city. When the other kids heard about anyone coming from Royal Arthur School (elementary school) they shrieked away in terror. They had often asked us if it was true that we carried knifes to school. Of course we didn't it was just one of those myths that had been blown out of proportion.
There had been one incident in the whole seven years that I attended the school where one boy actually brought a knife to school. However, he was apprehended and expelled before he had a chance to do any damage. The myth was then born that everyone carried knives to school and we were a real tough bunch. So when the kids asked if we had carried knives to school of course we boasted yes we did. We could not fathom how these kids could be so ignorant and instead of expelling the myth for what it was we played it up. We were 14 years old and enjoying every moment of our notoriety. Jerry on the other hand was not afraid of me or the school that I had come from. According to him I was just "ghetto trash".
Actually I really was just a very shy kid who preferred to be in the background rather than in the limelight. Yet I don't know what came over me that day when Jerry stated that he had never been anything less than the top in his class for history and I blurted out without thinking "not this year". He looked at me with a sneer and said "and who is going to defeat me; you? Then he dismissed me like the garbage he thought that I was and walked away. I stood there dumbfounded; I didn't know what to say.
The group that had gathered around to hear this exchanged edged me on. They told me that I could not let him get away with this. This year I had to beat him. Me, the struggling to maintain a B student who really was a C student in disguise was going to beat an A student? I just could not see this happening. But Richard Bailey a boy from my old school said to me "Carol you have to do it, you are smart enough and our reputation is at stake. You've got to show him that we kids from Royal Arthur School may be poor but we are not dumb."
How could I refuse, I had the reputation of my old school at stake, I had to teach Jerry a lesson, and this was my golden opportunity to prove to my history teacher that I was worthy of his love. I still had this big crush on him!
The competition was on! I studied like there was no tomorrow. Each test or paper we submitted had us running neck and neck for the top position. One time Jerry would score a point or 2 higher than I did and the next time I would score a point or 2 higher than him. The class was divided. All the girls cheered me on while the boys cheered him on. I also had the support of the Royal Arthur School boys so I did have a bigger following then he did. Jerry did not take it lightly. He refused to talk to me the rest of the school year.
Suddenly my history teacher started noticing me. He also noticed that there was some kind of competition going on between myself and Jerry. Since he picked up on the vibes in the classroom about the scores he started announcing to the whole class what our scores were. You would then hear the hoots and hollers from whichever side was in the lead at that point. You could tell from the smile on my history teacher's face that he really loved what was transpiring in his classroom.
The end of the school year was now at hand. We had just a term paper and the final exam to be graded. I had scored 99% on the exam and Jerry had scored 96%. The cruncher would be the score for the term paper. I had to score at least the same score as Jerry on the term paper to tie for the overall final grade. I didn't think that I could score better as he was actually a better term paper writer than I was. I actually thought that I would score about 5 points less than Jerry if the trend would continue the way it had been going all year long. I did better in the exams while he did better in the term papers.
The pressure was on and you could feel the tension in the classroom. The history teacher prolonged our agony. He did not hand out our papers with the rest of the class. He hung onto them until the very end of the class. Though neither Jerry nor I said a word the students begged him to tell the whole class what we got on the term paper. Finally after what seemed like an eternity, the history teacher handed out our papers. Jerry Morgan A – 85%, Carol Buckingham A – 85% I was estatic and the whole class jumped up. Final score for the year Jerry Morgan 86% - Carol Buckingham 86%.
Okay so I didn't beat him but I proved my point. Jerry was not the best student in his history class that year. I was happy he was not!