In third grade I conspired with some classmates to make another classmate believe he was being stalked by a ghost. I wrote notes in a squiggly lettering that said things like “Your parents don’t love you” and “Courdoroy pants are in your future.” We would leave the notes on his chair when he got up to sharpen his pencil. He was looking worried by the second note. I was pleased at how smoothly the plan was going. When lunchtime approached and we were forming two gender-based lines, a classmate and co-conspirator put his hand on my shoulder and said, “It’s over. He knows.”
“He knows? Who told him?” I was ready to kill this person who had the temerity to ruin my plan. But it turned out to be a kid who was much larger than I, and I decided that for the sake of everyone’s education I would not press the matter further.
When I was fourth grade I passed a note to a nearby classmate named Charles, saying “Charles is a big oaf.” Señora Goldfarb, our Spanish teacher, caught me and made me write it in Spanish a thousand times. After a few hundred I started getting tired and making mistakes, and as punishment I was not permitted to participate in the Cinco de Mayo celebration, where every student was responsible for making his parents buy an authentic Spanish dish for the class.
In high school there was a girl named Gretchen who passed notes by folding them into the little triangle, which everyone called a football. She would flick the football in the direction of her intended audience. Gretchen had bad aim and a few times the note landed near Mr. Mauser, our math teacher. Whenever this happened Mr. Mauser would pick up the football and ask who it belonged to, and when Gretchen confessed he would ask her whether the football formed an isoceles or equilateral triangle. If she was right she got the football flicked back to her. If she was wrong he opened the note and read it. Gretchen soon became the go-to sophomore on triangles.
I don’t know whether today’s students still pass notes, but I’m sure many are electing to text their cruel missives. No teachers to avoid, and no fellow students to recruit. No one would know if you were passing a note or checking your stock portfolio. Until someone accidentally texted the teacher.
Thanks to Toni Calabrese for the topic.