That Tone Of Voice

Chalk It Up To Experience

‘don’t use that tone of voice

young man’

grade seven

the visiting maths teacher

the one the guys in the class

called blubber boobs

oh oh blubber boobs this afternoon

hope she can see my homework

over those blubber boobs of hers

 

she came to our school three times a week

Miss Dunlop

we also had a Mrs. DeMoine

who came twice a week

to teach us French

we called her Madam to her face

and Mizdammit behind her back

Miss Dunlop was another story

with her small waist

and gigantic breasts

 

she was berating me

I hadn’t written my homework

in the strict form she required

I can’t remember my reply

nor can I recall my tone of voice

perhaps I had slipped into

that school yard sexual intonation

we used when talking about her

erasing the blackboard with her boobs

there’s chalk on them there hills

 

I stood silent before her

after she ordered me

not to use that tone of voice

I couldn’t even apologize

not knowing how to control

how I sounded

I did know it was pointless

to ague with her

like my mother

winning wouldn’t get me anywhere

all I’d prove

was that I was a smart mouth

not that I was smart

 

Miss Dunlop taught me well

it’s better to be thought stupid

than it is to prove a pointless point

This is the 4th of the saṃghādisesas. It practically wrote itself. School memories are usually great to revisit, even the unpleasant ones. This one was more embarrassing than unpleasant. Like many of these  ‘true to life’ pieces it is a composite of different moments as I struggled through school. Not all of them were in Grace seven.

In Cape Breton many schools had travelling special teachers for things like maths, art, music & French. Usually female, young & sometimes pretty. Each brought different routines, different disciplinary tactics – that usually involved getting one of the male teachers to tell us to behave. The guys would always joke about these teachers breasts or lack of them. The bigger the boob the greater the respect for some reason.

I was told, more than once, to watch the tone of my voice, but many of the guys got the same command too. As I say here I just didn’t know what was meant as I couldn’t hear myself talking and once I was told to watch my tone I couldn’t hear anything else for at least ten minutes. Being singled out never helped my focus or ability to absorb information.

Being made so self-conscious opting for silence was the only choice I could think of at the time. Confrontation would only result in one of the male teachers, or the vice-principal, being called for to keep us all in line. The vice-principal was prone to giving the entire class detention not just the ‘smart mouth.’ So keeping my mouth shut was as much due to peer pressure than anything else.

One result was that I became very dismissive of my actual voice. I hated to hear recordings of myself. If you’ve been one of the fortunate ones who have seen me perform you know I got over that 🙂

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2018’s capfireslam.org – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

 

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