The redhead got away

By Gian Louis Thompson |

She asked me if I understood the problem. I told her no, I don’t understand. My eyes locked on hers and my heart wavering, I continued to lie.

It was third grade and I was eight years old. We had just finished a lesson on simple multiplication. For the most part, I understood everything she taught us. Her name was Mrs. Thiel. A red headed bombshell beauty right out of college. The moment I saw her, I thought I was in love. For a prepubescent third grader, I’m not sure what that meant, but I knew I wanted to spend every moment I could with her. And so it began, my conquest to win over my third grade teacher and my first crush.

What does four times four mean to most people? Sixteen I hope. However, for me, it meant a whole lot more. It meant a date with the beautiful Mrs. Thiel. My ploy was simple, childish yes, but cunning if I do say so myself. We received the examination, all of the star pupils hammered away at the paper and the less advanced students, well they struggled valiantly. What was I doing? Writing down random numbers for every single problem of course, what else?

When we received the graded exams, I looked at my failing grade with wide eyes. Seeing the big F made me feel like a big kid. Mature enough for the letters, you know? After class, she seemingly hovered towards me, the sheer grace in her stride buckling my knees. I hung my head as I stood by the door holding my exam, I knew what she was going to say.

“Are you ok Gian Louis?” I thought she was singing to me. “Did you understand the test?”

I told her that I didn’t understand. Then she spoke the words that I wanted to hear.

“How about you stay after school today and we can work on this together?”

I looked up, a twinkle in my eye and told her ok. She finally gave me some special attention. I thought she was into me. That afternoon, I prepped up in the bathroom a bit, combed my mushroom cut with my fingers, maybe tightened up my velcro straps. A real professional. I sat down with her at the table and she tried so hard to get me to understand multiplication. I remember she used a pie diagram.

“Here we have a whole pie,” she said. “What happens when I draw a line down the middle? How many pieces of the pie are there now?”

I looked at her, a disgruntled expression on my face. I didn’t want to talk about mathematics. I wanted to get to know her. Court her a bit. Maybe get a good afternoon kiss.

“Ummm, (insert random number here),” I told her.

She looked at me, appalled. I can only imagine what kind of autism she thought I had going on at this point. How did this kid possibly come up with 33 as the answer to that question? I didn’t get a kiss.

I guess she referred my difficulty to my parents. Some nights my father would go over my failed tests with me. He would try so hard to get me to understand. I feel bad now, he’s a brilliant man and he probably thought he was rearing a half retarded kid. But I continued on with my ploy, pretending to not understand.

Then that dark day arrived. I walked into class and everyone was congratulating Mrs. Thiel. Some prick proposed to her and she accepted. Someone else was doing a better job than I. This is when I experienced my first fit of jealousy. And I do believe to this day that my jealous nature stemmed from this very event. Really though, I burned with jealousy. I was mad at her, and I let her know. No more after school special lessons. I was done with her.

The funniest part about all of this showed up about three weeks ago. I was having dinner with my parents and for some reason, Mrs. Thiel paid my mind a visit.

“Hey guys, do you remember when I utterly sucked at math in third grade?”
They responded yes to me. And I asked them if they knew why. They said no.

“Well, I had a crush on my teacher, Mrs. Thiel,” I said. “I wanted to spend more time with her so I pretended I didn’t understand anything.”

Both of them had no idea. My mom muttered something about that being typical behavior of me and my Dad? I think he mentioned the word “Jesus”. They had no idea. They thought I was mathematically disabled all this time. But for me, it was a crush. My first love, or so I thought. And my first heart break. So, apologies in advance to any women who happens to meet the grimace of my bitter heart. Blame Mrs. Thiel. Just kidding. Although she doesn’t know it, she taught me a lot about “love” and a lot about myself. Oh yeah, Mrs. Thiel, if you ever read this, my number is 904 536 4189.

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