04 December 2008

Recent Deaths

Reading my high school alumni newsletter, I learned that a man I graduated with died of cancer last spring. I think he was the valedictorian. I have only the vaguest memory of his face and his big glasses.

And I learned that my eighth-grade English teacher died in June. "Before he became a teacher, he performed professionally as a jazz drummer." Who knew? If we had known, most of us would probably have shrugged and said, What is jazz?

Eighth graders are idiots.

I remember a person who was passionate about literature, ironic, and impatient with stupidity--yet, sometimes, resigned to it. I think we read Macbeth in his class, and Julius Caesar. Maybe Romeo and Juliet, too. I didn't learn to love Shakespeare then, but I learned the plays. Even though I have not reread Julius Caesar since, I remember it.

He had us read the plays out loud, even though we stank at it, even though you could tell he relished reading them himself.

A good teacher. RIP.

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