I didn’t much like school as a child. I’d like to say it was because the curriculum wasn’t challenging enough for my gigantic brain.
But that wouldn’t be true. I just spent too much time daydreaming.
“This is Bill Hewitt and Brian McFarlane. We’re in overtime at Maple Leaf Gardens tied at two apiece — Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final between the Leafs and the Red Wings.
“Gordie Howe moves up to centre ice and breaks in on goal. It looks like it’s all over but, no, Leaf rookie Ray Smit strips him of the puck and takes away a sure goal! In all my years of broadcasting I’ve never seen such a great a defensive play.
“Tim Horton takes the puck from the corner over to Baun up to Keon at the Leafs blue line. Keon loses it but look, Smit has it. The crowd rises to its feet. He’s over centre. What a move, folks, he just went around Bill Gadsby like a hoop around a barrel.
“He’s in all alone. He shoots, he scores! The Leafs win the Stanley Cup! That’s the greatest goal I’ve ever seen. The crowd is shouting, “Ray, Ray, Ray!”
“Ray, Ray, Ray!” It was Miss Wright, my third grade teacher. “Ray, answer the question.”
“Um, is it, he shoots he scores?” There was loud laughter in the classroom.
“The question is, what famous thing did Julius Caesar say when he entered Rome and the answer is, ‘Veni, vidi, vici!’”
“Yes, Ma’am, Don Ameche.” There was more laughter.
Like I said, I loathed school. So every Monday morning brought a performance worthy of Marlon Brando.
“Mom, I’ll make you an offer you can’t refuse. Let me stay home and I’ll do your dishes.”
“How wonderful, Ray, I’ll leave them and you can do them after school. Now get going!”
One Monday morning a few weeks later, a miracle happened. I woke up to a world of white.
The snow drifts were as high as the front window, Dad was sputtering about moving to Florida and mom was fretting about her rose bushes.
“Hey, mom, school’s probably cancelled, right?” Mom looked uncertain.
“I’ll call Mrs. Boyce up the street and see if she’s sending Stevie to school.”
She got off the phone and nodded.
“You can stay home.”
The resulting shouts of joy could have woken the dead. A whole day off!
By 9:30 I had my toboggan out and Stevie and I were exulting in freedom. A few minutes before noon, the snow plough came through. I was thrilled.
Stevie and I could now play road hockey all afternoon!
When I came inside, mom was just hanging up the phone.
“That was your principal. He’s wondering why you’re not at school. I told him you’d be there after lunch.”
My world crashed. I could barely eat my five peanut butter sandwiches, two Twinkies and apple.
That afternoon Mrs. Wright told everyone who missed school to put up their hands. She stopped first at Evelyn’s desk and asked why she was away.
Evelyn replied that her mother was concerned about the snow and kept her home. Miss Wright smiled and said that was fine.
Several other girls were away for the same reason but Miss Wright soon stopped smiling.
By the time she got to Stevie and me she was angry.
When Stevie said his mother had kept him home, she smacked his desk and said that was no excuse. Stevie got a detention. She turned a baleful eye toward me.
“Why did you stay home, Ray?”
I desperately tried to think of an excuse.
“Why did you stay home?” she yelled as I fumbled for an answer.
“The heartbreak of psoriasis!”
I got a detention, anyway. And the moral? Never try to snow a teacher on a snow day.
*Names have been changed.