Greetings from Macedonia! What better way to celebrate Valentines Day than scratching old scars? Despite my own experience, I am pleased to know that HRH, Gremlin and others are carrying on this fine tradition, at least until "Facebook" reduces the virtue of such childhood kindnesses to just “virtual”. Actual human contact is so 20th century.
Your telling of my experience is accurate, but I should mention that my most vivid memory is the look of horror from the teacher when she realized her error. As teacher, she was accepted by all as an ageless elder of secret wisdom, the same presumption that makes kids freeze in confusion when they encounter their teachers doing something mundanely human, like driving or food shopping.
In reality, my teacher was probably 20 years old and unsure of herself. As her Charlie Brown grew up, I realized that the trauma she experienced was probably, by far, the worst of the day. I am pleased to affirm your assertion that I am not now and never have been, a serial killer, but I am not so sure about that 20 year old teacher.
I’ve often wondered what has become of the hopeful young teacher scarred by my childish trauma. Does she spend Feb 14th getting high sniffing mimeograph (born after 1970? Google it…) fluid before kidnapping a greeting card executive and forcing him to clap erasers until he chokes to death, then disposing of the body using the construction paper guillotine only big kids were allowed to operate? Is she the TV special voice of Charlie Brown’s teacher, so drunk from trying to drown out the trauma that she cannot speak a coherent sentence?
Despite my worst dreams of my teacher, it is probably a blessing that childhood traumas have greater effect on adults than they do on children. Today I visited the Skopje dump and found that many Roma children spend their days digging through the untended garbage heaps for any scrap they can sell. Their faces covered by thin scarves as a simple guard against the smell and fumes of the burning garbage they lit to keep themselves warm while they work. They were their yesterday, I am sure they will be there today, and back again on Valentine’s Day and the day after, etc.
Hopefully, as they grow older, things will improve, and the trauma of such childhood experiences will be less than that of the adults watching them work, helpless at the time to do anything to make things better, except for counting on the resilience of children while waiting for something to change.
That puts my schoolboy Valentine’s Day trauma into new perspective. Suffer the children and their teachers. They are all doing the best they can with what they’ve been given.
Charlie (David) Brown
Thank you, David.