Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Mrs. Deerslayer and Home Economics

In my junior year of high school, I had to take half a year in shop class and the other half of a year in home economics class. In shop class we learned how to weld and to build things out of wood. In home economics we were to learn how to cook and how to sew. The first day of class for home economics began and within minutes I knew the class was going to be a joke.

The teacher we called the Deerslayer since she always seemed to hit another deer with her car immediately after repairing it from the previous onslaught. She came into the class and began to explain her rules of conduct. All my other teachers in high school really never gave any conduct rules, simply preferring to hand out detentions as the situation merited. Mrs. Deerslayer however, had a system in which for every infraction she would mark down a tick mark on a recipe card with our name on it and stick it in a box. When you had five marks, you got a detention. If you were good for X amount of weeks, you got a tick mark erased.

For a bunch of 16 and 17 year old boys, this was manna from heaven. We could create some mayhem or do something destructive and only get one mark written down. We had four chances during the semester to plan some outrageous stunt and know that as long as we didn't commit a fifth offense, we were never getting a detention. We thought this was as good as it gets. We were wrong.

The first offender was a kid by the name of Chad who was always in detention. During a baking test when we were making cookies for a grade, he turned all the girls ovens to broil when they weren't looking. His thought was that if the girls handed in burnt cookies, the boys could hand in sub-par cookies and still get better grades. Instead, he set off the smoke alarms as black smoke filled up the classroom causing us to open all the windows in the middle of January. Fortunately back then; there were no such things as mandatory sprinkler systems.

Mrs. Deerslayer quickly identified the culprit and walked to her desk where she slowly and deliberately searched through the cards. She found Chad's card, picked up a pencil and put a tick mark on it as if to say, we had all better learn a lesson from this incident. She was right, we did. We immediately learned that she wrote down the tick marks in pencil and that anytime she left the room, we could soon have our slates clean again. We would erase all but one tick mark so that it wouldn't be too suspicious. She never caught on, no one ever got a detention, and the semester was general chaos. That was one of the better semesters of my high school career.

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