My answer to that has to be “my third grade teacher,” and her name was Severa S. It kind of gives you the correct impression when you look at her first name, “Severa.” Even at that young age I made the connection between the word “severe” and her first name. I don’t know how I found it out, but I thought even at the time that it was fitting. She was not a happy person, she never smiled and was always saying mean things to kids. She was rude to me. She also was the person who said that I was “no good in math.” Hey, don’t say things like that to a young kid, they become prophecies. I am not bad in math, and in fact, after many years of trying to overcome that untrue remark, I find that I am actually quite good in math, or at least good with numbers. I say “good at numbers” because I can easily remember crazy things like peoples’ license plate numbers, every combination lock combination I’ve ever had, phone numbers, old and new addresses, and almost any other number. I would have enjoyed math so much more if I’d had a positive comment made about me instead of a negative one.
Recently, I happened to see in the alumni publication of the university where I got my undergraduate degree that Mrs. S. is dead. That’s what you get if you’re mean, I thought, irrationally. I didn’t even realize she had gone to that same university. She probably lived a long, not necessarily happy, life, though, because I thought she was old when I had her for a teacher, and that was in the ’60s. Good riddance for the world to have one less crabby person in it.
(Some of us get younger and happier as the years go by in spite of negative experiences when we were chronologically young!)