My time with Mr. Keimig was short-lived, as there came to be an addition to the third grade teaching brigade not long into the year. I speak of Miss Hejlik. All I really remember from my time with Miss Hejlik is that I was in love with Miss Hejlik. She was new, and young, and beautiful. And taken. She had a fiancé that she'd tell stories about from time to time. She actually invited the whole class to attend her wedding at the Naval Academy. My family went. Seeing her walk the aisle tore apart any notions I had of a possible life together. Perhaps I was young and naive. I still remember the feeling I had on the last day of class, when she came around one by one to give us hugs as we sat at our desks. I think it was that day that I experienced anticipation in its truest and most powerful form.
When I flipped open my old Riderwood yearbook recently, I was surprised to see the comment she wrote: "Gordon, I expect to see you someday as a famous writer! I have enjoyed your stories! You have a real talent! Be sure to be patient when you are asked to sign so many autographs! Love, Miss Hejlik"
It all came back to me, how I had once had a passion for writing stories. How I had loved it. I used to write stories for fun and make my parents read them. Mom and Dad were very encouraging. It made me sad to think that it seemed I'd lost that part of me over the years...the writer.
One day, for getting a question right in Miss Hejlik’s class, I was awarded two tickets to see "A Little Princess". A class bully, Ryan Heller (I always thought it was so appropriate that the word "hell" was actually in his name), made me give him the other ticket. We sat next to each other for the premiere, and I remember thinking how strange it was that he teared up during the movie.
In fourth grade I had Miss Skomp...not Mrs. Skomp, no, because no man would want to share his life with this woman. I know that my classmates and I absolutely didn't. She was wretched...short in stature, deadly serious, and almost never smiled. And when she did, it was the most uncomfortable smile you'd ever seen, probably because the concept of happiness was so foreign to her.
What I remember most about fourth grade was seeing Amy Sachs pee her pants (actually skirt) in front of the whole class. No one was raising their hand to go up to the front and recite the answers to the spelling homework, so Amy was randomly called on. My desk was the closest to her, part of a quad of desks, of which there were a handful about the room. Her shaky voice, followed by the sound of trickling liquid, raised an awareness in me that perhaps the unthinkable was happening right in front of me. Upon leaning down and peering under my desk toward her legs, my suspicions were verified. She finally stopped mid-sentence, and asked to be excused, and left wet footprints behind her as she walked out.
Lauren Heavrin, who had a crush on me and conveniently for her sat across from me, looked in my direction and tried to hold in a hysterical laugh, causing me to leak out some giggling of my own. Miss Skomp, however, mistook Nick Kavoussi, the shy redheaded fellow on my left, as the one who couldn't keep his cool, and yelled at him with full force, her face red and her finger in his face, the words accented by the manipulation that comes when passed through gritted teeth. His mouth lay open a little, and his big confused, innocent eyes met directly with their opposites in hers. I still feel guilty for that.