All right everyone sit down, shut up, and listen closely because Im about to tell you all the tale of substitute teacher Ms. Mormino.
But first, you have to know about our math teacher, Ms. Isom.
Poor old Ms. Isom. Well into her 60s, always plagued with some illness or injury, she was hardly ever even at school. Since many of her absences were the result of short-notice incidentsfalling down the stairs was popularly cited it wasnt all that uncommon to not have a substitute ready and on hand when one was needed. Which meant we often had class without any teacher at all.
Being a smartass honors class, wed gotten away with several successful evasions of administration, walking cavalierly into class to pass the next 48 minutes doing just about nothing. Hell, for good measure, wed sometimes even toss in a friendly hey, Ms. Isom! if any administrators were anywhere within earshot.
We got pretty accustomed to our own little self-governing system that rolled around every second period, so we naturally werent exactly thrilled when administration caught on to our little Anarchy Act and strictly enforced the presence of a substitute every day.
Most of our subs werent terriblemost were friendly, gave us participation grades, and didnt object to the independent attitude of our class (which, mind you, only had about ten students in it).
That is, until Ms. Mormino came along.
Four feet, ten inches of raw, undiluted evil, Ms. Mormino walked into class with a scowl on her face and a chip on her shoulder. When the girl behind me sneezed, Ms. Morminos immediate response was NO INAPPROPRIATE NOISES! Wow.
Although we all suppressed our laughter, we all knew from that moment on that, try as she might with her despotism and her draconian anti-sneeze policy, Ms. Mormino didnt stand a chance.
The arguable beginning of the end for Ms. Morminos all-too-brief reign of terror was the moment I asked for a calculator; mine was broken.
Mormino asserted that I could only borrow a calculator if I loaned her something of mine. At that moment, the girl next to me chimed in, saying she, too, needed a calculator. I have a folder I can give you, I offered. I have a highlighter, added the other girl.
At that moment, a puberty-creaking voice from the back of the room piped up. Max.
We all know certain people have certain gifts. Michelangelo saw angels in every block of marble and devoted his life to setting them free; Einstein had a mind which saw the potential of the entire universe; F. Scott Fitzgerald wove intricate tales of decadence and depravity. Max, however, had a different kind of gift: he could make anythinganything at allinto a thats what she said joke. This is important for the story, as shall be seen.
Max pried off a Nike sneaker and held it proudly in the air, like a coveted trophy.
I have a shoe,” he said.
Tottering in one-shoe-one-sock, Max dumped the sneaker on Ms. Morminos desk, retrieved a calculator, then tottered back to his own desk, a sort of smirk playing on his face. And, as to be expectedthe rest of us quickly followed suit.
A small pile of shoes on her desk, Ms. Mormino gritted her teeth and glared at us as we all sat back down, quietly victorious, a calculator in each of our hands. It wasnt long, however, until we all began to silently plot our next act of minor mayhem.
“Can I go to the bathroom? asked Tyler, who, despite being in seventh grade, was approaching his sixteenth birthday. Filled with admiration at Tylers devil-may-care boldness, we unequivocally accepted him as our leader.
For reasons unknown, Ms. Mormino denied his bathroom request. Tyler, much like his Fight Club namesake, heeded no rules but his own and left anywayMs. Mormino, furious, locked the door behind him and smugly insisted that administration will take care of him.”
Tyler, however, was not one to be caught, and stayed close by, appearing in the window of the door whenever Ms. Mormino wasnt looking. Waving, smiling, laughing, making faces and obscene gestures, Tyler had us all in stitches, but cleverly avoided Ms. Morminos sightwhen she asked us what was so funny, we all refused to give Tyler away.
A girl asked to go to the bathroom, stating she really really really needed to go. Ms. Mormino, again, denied her request. Ms. Mormino, however, seemed to be uninformed about the side doorleading right outside, always locked from the outside but always open from the inside.
“Well, Ill go myself, the girl responded, and took off, hurdling three desks and darting out the door. Right behind her, two other students took off, pursuing freedom. The door slammed behind all three students, and they were gone.
Six of us were left. Among us, importantly, was Chris. Chris was thirteen, but looked half his age; scrawny, wiry, he probably measured in at about four-foot-three, but no taller. Late Bloomer are words that come to mind.
Despite his diminutive size, Chris possessed the gall of someone like Tyler.
I have to use the bathroom, said Chris, standing.
Do you think Im going to allow you to go to the bathroom? snapped Ms. Mormino.
Its an emergency! Chris pleaded.
Sit down, Ms. Mormino growled.
Meanwhile, the entire class borders on hysteria. We have tears in our eyes, almost suffocating from choking back laughter.
Its an emergency, repeated Chris, but it sounded more like a warning.
Silence. Silence, Silence and more silence, until we all began to notice a dark stain on Chriss khakis. The stain grew. And grew. And grew.
Fists at his sides, stoicism in his face, and a cold, proud, triumphant glint in his eye, Chris locked eye contact with Ms. Mormino.
And pissed right in his pants.
The entire class erupted into a laugh only comparable to the detonation of a bomb.
We laughed so hard for the next five, ten, fifteen minutes straight that Ms. Mormino gave up.
Surrendering, putting her head on her desk, she waited until the hysteria finally subsided.
Finally looking up, defeated, pathetic, Ms. Mormino glared at us all and wailed:
This is too much, this is too hard, too hard… this is too much for me!
A lone voice sounded from the back of the room. Guess whose it was…
Thats what she said.
Ms. Mormino officially retired from teaching that afternoon.