I had Mrs. Pratt for English!

thistlyQuite the old battle-axe at that, with her blue rinse and those old-fashioned dresses that just about everybody over, oh I dunno, about 55 let’s say, wore back when I was a bratty little 8th grader. She kept her “hankie” you-know-where and once when she had to sneeze, she couldn’t find her hankie right away, so she was fishing around you-know-where right at the front of a classroom full of 8th graders, a good portion of whom probably couldn’t’ve cared less about learning about past participles and the subjunctive and diagramming sentences. What? That’s too much like math and I ain’t gonna do no milkman problem at the board ’cause I ain’t gonna be no milkman. Oops, that was another class. That thing about the missing hankie? I never saw it happen. I think it was a 1960s [Sault Ste.] Siberian equivalent of the urban legend.

Mrs. Pratt was a task-master. Worksheets upon worksheets upon worksheets of verb conjugations and whatever the heck you do with nouns (help me out here you grammar/syntax nazis, you know who you are!). And diagramming sentences. Occasionally, Mrs. Pratt would slip in something a bit more creative. I got in her good graces once when the assignment was to bring in a few pieces of “found” creative writing, as in *find* some descriptive writing somewhere, copy it out longhand (no computers then, what were you thinking?), cite the source, and hand it in. I’m sure she didn’t trust the likes of about 85% of us to actually *write* something creative. I found mine in a Seventeen magazine short story, I think the character’s name was Ellie and the story had a beautiful description of her alone in her room listening to the hissing of an old radiator in the midst of her melancholy teenage angst. A lot like my life, actually, and I was Mrs. Pratt’s fave for a day or two. I also got on her bad side once. For cheating. How can someone who actually *likes* to diagram sentences and turns in perfect worksheets cheat, you are wondering? Because I hated being labeled as a brain. I didn’t want to top out those stupid standardized tests. I wanted to be cute and cool and popular. So, I let a couple of cute, cool (in a dark kind of way), and popular (with kids my parents probably wouldn’t want me hanging around with) girls befriend me. I was their fave just about long enough for them to get me to let them copy my papers. They dropped me fast when we all got in trouble and I continued on muddling my way through the inscrutable (to me) labyrinth of the junior high social hierarchy. I am still pretty confounded by social stuff but these days I have an idea why and have developed a few coping mechanisms.

Guess what? I will never be a real writer but life did get better and the stuff I learned from Mrs. Pratt and a few other unsung old-fashioned (or not) English teachers has stood me in good stead throughout my series of careers. Not that I exactly knew what to do today with the second word of a hyphenated word in a title-cased report name. (Got that?) To capitalize or not capitalize. That was the question. I didn’t know the answer but I do know how and where to look this stuff up.

P.S. I bet 50/50 odds that the kid who wasn’t gonna be no milkman (and I do NOT even know who it was), is either dead or owns a house five times the size of mine with marble everything and a big indoor swimming pool and, oh I dunno, six vee-hickles maybe. Or at least a blasted Roomba. Because I HATE to vacuum. Probably the girls that befriended/dropped me too. Alas, I am just slogging along. But that’s okay.

4 Responses to “I had Mrs. Pratt for English!”

  1. isa Says:

    Nah, they probably don’t know what a Roomba is. I know someone who has one! They don’t use it. Not 60 seconds before I read this I was looking up capitalization-in-titles rules…

  2. Margaret Says:

    Noun declension? I am a grammarian (I prefer that to Nazi) although I am terrible with commas!! 🙂

  3. jane Says:

    Bubs and Harry are both more than capable of clarifying any errors (ahem) that might happen to slip out. and could explain noun declinsion (????) and title capitalization, but they’re at the beach and I assume not reading your blog.

    personally, I hated diagramming sentences.

  4. Jay Says:

    I don’t ever remember diagramming sentences, so I either had teachers that did not or hated it so much that I have blocked it from my memory bank.