Thursday, October 20, 2005

Miss Rice

Hardly a day goes by that I don’t thank my lucky stars that I have a good command of language, and possess a modicum of writing skill. Not long ago, I received an email from an old friend, whom I hadn’t heard from in years. As I read the letter, I realized that it must have been a struggle for this person to write the letter, since it was basically written by someone who is borderline illiterate. I had no idea that this person has an issue with writing and spelling. And it was lovely (and brave) that he wrote anyway. Still, regarding reading and writing skill, I feel for those who, for one reason or another, didn’t get it, when they were in school, or later, in real life.

When I was in grade school, phonics were big. You know, where you sit before a chalk board, or an easel with a big piece of paper on it, and your teacher drills you to death about the sounds certain letters make, and combinations of letters, like “Ph”, for (say it slowly now), “Phone, Physical, Phat Pharm", oh no that’s not right, Fat Farm is spelled with an “F”, which has the same sound a “Ph”, like that, on and on for hours. That’s where I got my reading and writing chops. In the 2nd and 3rd grades.

Her name was Miss Rice, and she was a babe, by 1950s standards, petite, cute, bubbly, warm, smart, well dressed. I thought she was the greatest, and she was a terrific teacher. I can remember my folks being so grateful that I would have her for my teacher yet again in the third grade, after having her in the second. Miss Rice was popular........especially with males. I am certain that in the chain smoke filled teacher’s lunchroom at Atkinson Grade School in 1955 and 1956, there was idle talk, among the men teachers, about what a King Hottie Miss Rice was. Yep, that little Bangs and Bubble Do, and that black tight-weave sweater, mercy.

I could always tell that my Dad thought Miss Rice was foxy, even though I was just a little kid, cuz he would be all starry eyed and different when he was around her, like at a parent’s night or some other school thing. I can remember a group of Dads standing around her, at one school night, trying to keep their tongues from wagging, surely keeping the conversation on school issues, all the while undressing the sexy Miss Rice with their eyes, and right in front of their wives. Ah, the 50s, what a great era.

But I don’t think my brazen Dad was ready for it, one summer in about 1958, when we traveled, as a family, to Mt. Hood for a little day trip, and stopped at Zig Zag for dinner. As we stood in the foyer of the restaurant, waiting to be seated, a completely inebriated and still foxy Miss Rice came stumbling out of the cocktail lounge, much to our surprise. She recognized us all immediately, said her bubbly hellos, gave me the head pat, and then, with no regard for my mother’s presence, gave my Dad this huge hug, and then stood there, with her arm around his waste, his arm around her shoulders, and began speaking and giggling, way over the top drunk. Standing there, the two of them, with Miss Rice slumping into my Dad’s side, all cozy like, they looked like a couple. At one point, she ran her free hand up my dad’s stomach and to his shoulder, and in a sexy little whine, said something like, “I’m a little intoxicated”. But Dad was groovin’ on it, and he wasn’t exactly pushing her away. I was 10. It was weird.

I think my Mom was mostly just speechless, cuz she already knew my Dad was a dope, but I do remember that she made some disparaging comments about Miss Rice, on the ride home in the car. Like “what’s an attractive young woman like that doing getting all drunk, in public, she’s a teacher for God’s sake, not a harlot!” Let’s just say there was a bit of tension, for awhile, after the Miss Rice Caper at Zig Zag, between my folks. It definitely hurt my Mom’s feelings, and it obviously made an impression on me. People make mistakes, and I suppose Miss Rice blundered that day, but........Miss Rice is still a star with me, even in a distant memory, since she taught me how to read and write.

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3 comments:

Roberta said...

I enjoyed reading your blog... will be back when I have more time to read your older posts as well.

All the best to you and your family!

Woman with a Secret said...

Hmmmm.... that was really well written. Miss Rice did do a good job.

Spider Girl said...

I remember many of my teachers fondly. I ran into my music teacher from twenty-five years ago the other day and she STILL remembered me. I was so pleased. :)

I enjoyed your story about Miss Rice.