Thursday, March 31, 2011

Geometry and Chesterfields

Tenth grade Geometry was nearly my downfall. The class was taught by an ex-pro footballer (from the leather helmet era) who had a shaky grasp of Euclid but a firm grip on his Chesterfields. He kept the pack in his shirt pocket, we could all see it through the seersucker. His meaty hands were stained a deep yellow where he held his precious cigs. He would begin each class with a lecture, then give us a worksheet to ponder while he made his way down to the teachers' lounge for a quick smoke. I had taken up my study of the nicotine vice just the summer before; his example did nothing to alleviate my cravings.

I had always been a good student, nothing amazing, mostly B's with a sprinkling of A's and C's, learning in spite of myself. Geometry should have been a snap, but I was so bewildered by the blather from the instructor I would have failed had it not been not for the sagacity of Bob Wetherille, boy genius (later to become Doctor Wetherille), who would explain the concepts whenever the teacher was out of the room. I did manage to pass, and I also switched my brand of smokes from Benson & Hedges to Chesterfields (straights, no less!) Later that year, after having walked two miles in a snowstorm to get cigarettes, I realized that perhaps emulating my Geometery teacher wasn't such a smart idea and I tore up the pack and tossed it into the snow. I never smoked a cigarette again.

By Professor Batty



4 Comments:

Anonymous NormanLake said...

I was the same type student you describe yourself as, mostly B's, an A or two, C in geometry, although my understanding of it improved once I hit the pool hall after school. Smoking, although it seemed to look cool, I never fell for the peer pressure. Once that smoke became marihuana, however,...


Blogger oroboros said...

My Dad had the sagacity, when I began to experiment with smoking on the sly, to volunteer to buy them for me and let me smoke 'em at home...with one proviso: I had to actually inhale them if I was going to smoke 'em. I was ecstatic until the nausea set in. Never tempted again...


Blogger Cellar Door said...

As I teacher, I really miss the days (before my time) when you could wander out of class and have a cigarette break. I mean, now we're being called lazy and overpaid, but what I wouldn't give for a job like that! Not that I smoke, but I couldn't smoke on school grounds, if I did. The former high school where I taught had two teachers who smoked, and they had to go out on the traffic median (off of school grounds, amongst crazy amounts of traffic swirling around them) to smoke. Twenty below zero, they were still out there at their usual time, usually laughing and greeting students crossing the street. I had to admire their perseverance, against all odds.


Anonymous Andy said...

What an impression he made! That class ended my dream of an engineering career, and his yellow hand and lip kept me away from the demon tobacco for many years! However, his scorn for my little Honda and his love of the big iron (Harley Davidson) did stay with me!

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