Behind the Hatred

Len had a lazy eye and was balding, our English teacher. He wrote on the chalkboard and directed us to copy the lines into our notebooks:

Behind the hatred there lies a murderous desire for love

He didn’t quote the source, but I knew it: Morrissey, The Smiths. He wanted us to start a story with that line, and then he posted a painting, and said the story had to take place in the same house as shown on the painting (one by Cézanne).

We were to keep journals, too. Every couple months or so he’d collect all the journals, read them, and make remarks. It was this act of journal writing for someone else’s viewing pleasure that cemented my love of writing.

Len lived alone in a row home near the CVS pharmacy where I worked. He came in about once a week, bought a carton of Winstons, and left. I chided him about the smoking but he just shook his head at me and said, “I really don’t care what you think. And one day you’ll understand, and it just won’t matter to you.”

We were leading up to my senior prom, and had a problem: I wanted my date to spend the night at our house, but my parents refused. Instead, it would be okay if we slept outside, but I didn’t own a tent and didn’t have the money to get one.

Len came through. We staked the tent to the farthest corner of the backyard, and got to spend the night together, on the ground.

Len told me later that he invited another English teacher friend over to laugh at some of my journal entries. He said I was one of those students who gave him a reason to teach. He taught me to write, by caring enough to read.

 

About pinklightsabre

William Pearse publishes memoir, travel journals, poetry and prose, and lives in the Pacific Northwest.
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7 Responses to Behind the Hatred

  1. sarahlangdon says:

    Good teachers can make such a positive impact!

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  2. I love that line for its truth and then I watched The Smiths perform it (thank you, YouTube). I resent great music with bad lyrics, but wow, the reverse is just as bad!
    It’s always amazing when a teacher, when they least expect it, can inspire you. I had a teacher in 5th grade, worst hair piece ever and a lisp, and he made me feel like writing was my destiny. That’s pretty heady stuff for a 5th grade introvert!

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    • pinklightsabre says:

      Very cool – I am delighted that you recognized the song! I am going through a deep Smiths phase again. Nice to hear about your teacher with the hair piece and the lisp. Were it not for him, you may not have read my blog and inspired me to write my next one, tomorrow! Thank you for reading. I love what you’re doing, and you’re a source of inspiration to me.

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  3. alesiablogs says:

    ahh! The impacts of teachers is awesome. I had a Anatomy and Physiology teacher I could swear was a man in a woman’s body. She dressed as a man each and everyday, but she knew her subject. She inspired me to go into the medical field. I always wondered what happened to her. I went to High School in the deep south in the 70’s. She must have had some hard times I would imagine. The kids could be cruel behind her back. I always thought she was a genius.

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    • pinklightsabre says:

      Funny how you want to reconnect with those old teachers. I tried to do the same with Len here, but no luck yet. Thank you for sharing your memory of the ambiguous-gendered teacher from the 70s. I am pooped. – Bill

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