the happy little cow

Mostly what I remember about my high school years  was that I didn’t have the faintest idea what was going on in class. No idea in algebra, which I believe I had three times, no clue in earth science.  I was marginally more clued in Mechanical Drawing, and I did know what was going on English class. This is what I remember from Freshman English.

I was chewing gum. The boy next to me was my next door neighbor. He had hardly spoken to me since we were best friends at the age of 5 and sailed  leaf boats in the gutter together. The English teacher was talking about Pippi Longstocking.  She caught my jaw moving.

“ You spit that gum out. You’re over there chewing  your cud like a happy little cow.”

David (my neighbor)  looked at me completely deadpan.  “Are you a happy little cow? Are you really a happy little cow?”   His first words to me since we were five. The last  until our twentieth reunion.

I have taught all my classes how to say laeta parva vacca sum.    I am a happy little cow. It commemorates that moment in English.

The unexpected visit

The supervisor appeared in my room one day half way through the lesson.

He sat himself at my desk. I continued the lesson and handed him the textbook, open to the translation.   He motioned me over.  The classroom was originally a room for small study groups. It was very small, designed for only ten people.

He pointed to the textbook.

“Where is the teachers edition?” he asked rather loudly

“I don’t have one.”

“Why not?”  in a somewhat argumentative tone.

I didn’t know why not. I had never had a teacher’s edition of any book. No one had ever given me a catalog to order books. I just used what was there.

“ I never ordered one. I don’t even know if they have them for this book.”

He pointed to the story written in Latin.

“ Well, then,how do you know what this says?”

Pause.  Really long pause.

“Ummmm…because….. I’m the Latin teacher?”

He knew.  I was just making it up as I went along.