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October 05, 2009

Every student has at least one teacher who inspires them to be better than they are. A teacher who empowers  them with the confidence to go out and accomplish whatever goals they want to achieve. I was lucky enough to have several teachers like that when I was younger. Teachers like Miss Roy, Mr. Sweetser, and Mr. Dahlquist.

But this blog isn’t about those positive role models in my life. This blog is about that one evil teacher everyone has. That one teacher who likes kicking you when you’re down. That one teacher who takes delight in watching a fat, blubbering kid cry in front of his peers. That one teacher who gives all other teachers a bad name. I’m, of course, talking about Mrs. Downs.

There’s a few people responsible for helping make me the insecure, self-loathing, man-child I am today. People who put me down, and belittled me, and gave me little credit in life. These people include my parents, several former bosses, my priest, and almost every girl I’ve ever tried to date.

But one person stands out above all else. And that’s Mrs. Downs of Fairview School in Auburn, Maine. Although, to be quite honest, I’m not sure if she’s still at Fairview School these days. She last taught me there in 1989, but in that time she may have retired, transferred, or much like a vampire, she might have disintegrated when she stepped out into direct sunlight.

Even the name “Downs” gives you an idea of what her personality was like. She literally was a downer who brought other people down. She was a snobby bitch who was probably some sort of prom queen when she graduated from high school in the 1960’s or 70’s, and if I had to compare her to anyone in popular culture I’d have to compare her to Betty Draper, the fictional wife of Don Draper on AMC’s “Mad Men.” You know, stuck up, shallow, and looking for any chance to throw around authority. And since she wasn’t gonna hold her own weight with anyone her own age, the only place Mrs. Downs could flaunt her intellectual superiority was in a room full of 12-year-olds.

I’m pretty sure Mrs. Downs didn’t like me for two main reasons. The first reason was because I was a fat kid. See attached photo:

The second reason was I wasn’t a rich kid. My family was blue collar and we were often teetering on the line between middle class and poverty. In her eyes, I was white trash.

And I’m not just saying this. There were several other kids in my class who she treated completely different from the way she treated me. Kids who had rich parents. Kids who had good fashion sense. Kids who didn’t weigh 200 pounds.

Anyway, here are five examples of why I think Mrs. Downs is an evil teacher:

1) Mrs. Downs actually made me cry in front of her class once:

Although Mrs. Downs taught sixth grade English, Reading, and Health, I was first introduced to her when I was in the fifth grade. Myself and three other fifth graders were too advanced for the fifth grade level reading curriculum so we had to go into Mrs. Downs’ sixth grade reading class every morning – which was very intimidating since I was a fifth grader and all those kids were a whole year older than me. Obviously a year or two difference in the real world doesn’t matter, but in grade school, twelve months means all the difference in the world. Older kids were intimidating and you never wanted to look weak in front of them – especially if you were a poor, fat kid.

One day I forgot to do my reading homework and Mrs. Downs verbally berated me in front of the entire class. She said something to the effect of, I was given an opportunity that other kids didn’t have and I wasted it away by not doing her homework. I mean, I see her point. I should have done the homework, but all she had to do was mark it in her stupid grade book and I would lose a grade or something, but instead she decided to make an example out of me in front the entire class. I was humiliated and cried. And believe me, there’s nothing more humiliating than a fat kid crying…


2) Mrs. Downs forced me to hold a pencil the “right way”:

Apparently, some asshole wrote a book on etiquette in the 1920’s or something and he actually took the time to tell people how to properly hold a pencil. If you don’t believe me, take a look at the chart:


And since Mrs. Downs never had an original thought in her head, she assumed this was the only way someone could possibly ever hold a pencil. And between you and me, telling someone how to hold a pencil is like telling someone how to take a shit. You know, give ‘em enough time and they’ll figure it out on heir own. You don’t need a fucking diagram…  But naturally, Mrs. Downs was so fucking anal that she forced us to hold our pencils the “right way” and would go out of her way to correct us whenever we held it wrong.

Now here’s the deal – I’M A FUCKING ARTIST!!! I was born with a natural ability to draw, and I’ve been drawing perfect cartoon caricatures of Popeye the Sailor Man, Fred Flintstone, and Donald Duck since I was four years old. The fact of the matter is, I should have taught Mrs. Downs how to hold a pencil, but this dumb bitch was trying to tell me I was doing it wrong.

This leads us to…


3) Mrs. Downs belittled me after I won an art contest:

I can’t remember the exact details, but one of our assignments one day was to draw a picture of something that we read in class. As mentioned above, I have a natural ability to draw and so naturally I drew the best picture. When asked to vote, all of the kids in class picked my picture as the best, and for once I felt good about myself. Of course, Mrs. Downs couldn’t let me go on feeling too good so she took the first opportunity she could to cut me back down to her level.

A friend of mine was playing with a rubber “Dino” toy that he got from a box of Fruity Pebbles cereal and he made me giggle. My giggling was all Mrs. Downs needed to rip me a new asshole. She came right to my desk and yelled at me in front of the entire class again. This time she said, “You have taken praise today, Steve Pilot, and now you think you are so special that you do not have to follow the rules of my class!?? How dare you???”

I don’t think I said anything in her class for three weeks.


4) Mrs. Downs didn’t care that my cat died:

For my 12th birthday I really wanted a dog but we lived in an apartment and our landlord wouldn’t allow it, so my parents got me a kitten that I named Barney. I never had any pets before, and although a cat isn’t as cool as a dog, receiving a kitten as a birthday gift was still special. Unfortunately, as my luck would have it, my parents got me a kitten with Feline Leukemia and Barney ended up dying two weeks later – and right before I had to go to school one morning. Needless to say, I was a little bummed out and had a picture of Barney with me that day.

Mrs. Downs could have cared less that my cat died, let alone that I was having a rough day. She took the picture of Barney away and said I could get it back at the end of the day. I mean, I see her point now – it was just a stupid cat – but I wasn’t cynical yet. I was only 12 years old and I still had a heart. I was sad that Barney died…


5) Mrs. Downs forced me to do a health project on Obesity:

As I said early, Mrs. Downs also taught health class, and as part of our health grade we had to complete a health project on a health topic of Mrs. Downs’ choosing. Mrs. Downs went through the class and gave everyone their topics. When she came to my desk she said, “here Steve, why don’t you do yours on obesity…”

I mean, maybe in her warped head, she thought she was actually helping me. Maybe she thought I would learn something and try to better myself. I don’t know… All I do know is I was a fat kid and she told me to do my health report on fat people. Those are the facts.

When you take all these stories into consideration, it’s easy to understand why I think Mrs. Downs is the biggest cunt in the universe. I mean, I don’t have any positive memories of Mrs. Downs. And to be 100% honest with you, I can’t remember a god damn thing that she taught me that I still use in real life today. The only thing I remember from her class is when she told us that orange juice can prevent an apple from browning. That’s it. That’s all she ever taught me.

I saw Mrs. Downs a few years ago when I was in Maine for Christmas. I was at a CVS Pharmacy picking up cold medicine and she was in front of me in line at the check out. She was older and grayer but looked almost exactly the same.

All I wanted was to walk up to her and tell her what a horrible teacher and human being she was, but I didn’t because I was sneezy, and congested, and had a runny nose. And between my sickness and the weather, I was having a horrible hair day, and I didn’t need to give her any excuses to make fun of me…

She did, however, make eye contact with me, and although I don’t know if she remembered my name, I could tell that she remembered who I was, and she remembered saying and doing all those horrible things to me.

This is just a lesson to all the teachers out there. Be careful who you pick on, because you never know who might get an opportunity to write about you on the front page of Funny or Die…