Sunday, May 21, 2017

Here's Looking At You, Ms. Diefendurfer

Having now completed 725 blogs I want to thank my freshman English composition teacher at Forest Hills High School for giving me a hard time. It was my worst subject. With all the rules about missed commas, split infinitives and dangling participles my creative juices got clogged and clotted. She was an old-school sort who cared less for creativity than red-penciling subjects and predicates or ending sentences with prepositions, which is one of those mandates up with which I shall never put.

Our first assignment in September was to write about what we did during our summer vacation. I had no words for my loneliness. My friends all disappeared on trips or summer camp and returned with exotic tales. I walked their dogs and watered their plants. I waited for post cards and wandered neighborhoods outside my usual perimeter.

When my friend Stanley returned we took to following odd people. One man in particular remains in my memory. He was a sort of Ichabod Crane-looking fellow who spoke to himself. Of course nowadays doesn’t everybody? We trailed poor Ichabod for blocks down subway steps and out the other side of the street. Now I’m thinking Ms. Diefendurfer may have been following us and turn us in for a run-on sentence.

This was the sort of malicious mischief one could never write about nor could I fill a page snitching how I opened the side door of the Austin Theater to let in two friends who couldn’t raise the twenty cents for admission. Did she really expect an account of those salad days or was the content just a way of testing for proper grammar and penmanship?

Too bad Donald Trump never took a class with Ms. Diefendurfer. The world might be a better place. In fact while I was in high school Donald was going to Kew Forest School across from my apartment house. Had I known at the time I might have shadowed him around the neighborhood, bought a few distressed properties with my allowance and some deposit bottles and even learned how to become the second smartest man who ever lived.

Dear Ms. Diefendurfer,

I’m ready for my make-up exam. I want to write about my summer with the president of the United States.

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