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An Unexpected Gift

I came from a small, exclusive school for girls ran by Catholic nuns. Because it was an all all-girl school, it was a rarity to lay eyes on anyone from the opposite gender while at school, unless one counted the jovial, much older janitor or the sniveling much younger altar boys towed by the visiting priest for the weekly masses. The priest of course, did not count at all.

That changed one day when a male teacher was called in to temporarily take the place of a regular teacher who fell sick. We wasted no time and paired this new teacher with a popular female teacher. Between them, we passed romantic poems newly learned from English Literature class, and signed their names to make it appear that they were sent, one from the other. We teased this male teacher no end until he would blush and get distracted from the lesson. Perhaps that was actually what we wanted – to distract him from the lesson.



Nothing really came from our persistent matchmaking. Our female teacher good naturedly took it all in stride and that established her firmly as our all-time favorite. The male teacher departed shortly. I do not recall if it was because the original teacher recovered or if he himself got sick from all our jesting. Possibly, it could have been because the nuns decided that we were not getting any learning done. Well, they certainly were wrong about that. We learned plenty from that brief adolescent experience.

At a transitioning time in our young lives, we experimented vicariously with feelings of romantic love. We learned that it cannot be orchestrated or planned or teased into being. We learned about good humor, grace, and maturity from watching these two teachers handle an awkward and irritating situation.

From a prank-like juvenile experiment, we had gained an unexpected gift  – a lesson about romantic love and a fond memory that has lasted many years.

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