I had a doctor’s appointment this morning before work (for my poor achy shoulder). As I left, I stopped at the desk to set up a follow-up. I didn’t recognize the receptionist, so I made my standard request to try to get a time before or after my classes – “anything first thing in the morning on an odd-numbered day? Or after 4:00 any day at all?” She looked quizzical, and I added, “I’m a teacher.”
“Oh,” she said, “What do you teach?”
“High school.” I’ve learned to be vague. My best bet is to feel out the person in front of me because not everyone has fond memories of high school English. Last week the woman at the salon told me several sad high school stories as she washed my hair. English class featured prominently. She had not read many books in high school and actually brightened a little when I told her that magazines count as reading. Poor thing. So this morning I brace for the (polite) worst.
I smile and ‘fess up, hoping that she won’t tell me how awful it was. I can tell the conversation isn’t over.
“Which Shakespeare play are you teaching?”
Wait – what? That’s not what I was expecting. She has leaned forward a little and is looking at me quite intently. I’m still in my “I swear I’m not an ogre” mode.
“Um, well, I work with at-risk readers, so we don’t always do Shakespeare…” My voice trails off; she actually looks a little disappointed, so I add, “But if we do one, grade 10 is Romeo and Juliet.”
“Oh! That’s a great one! I really loved it. But my favorite is Merchant of Venice. My teacher just did a great job with that one and we got so into it!” She is nearly starry-eyed, clearly remembering some class, some moment of understanding, some passionate discussion. She pauses then adds, “I just love Shakespeare.” She glances at her colleague and gives her an almost apologetic smile, then she looks back at me.
“Me, too,” I say. Me, too.