The Norman Transcript

June 29, 2013

It seemed like a good idea at the time

By Keith Kappes
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — As schoolboy pranks go, it was a work of art, but it ended badly for two young culprits.

The target of the prank was an elderly middle school social studies teacher who was marking time toward retirement.

She might have had issues with the male gender because she never married and didn’t like boys, especially the mischievous kind.

When she grew tired of sending wrongdoers to the principal, she banished them to a desk in the corner of the classroom.

But the worst part was that she would print “1,000” on the top of a sheet of notebook paper and require the transgressors to print numerals in reverse order all of the way back to zero.

With only four columns on a page and 25 lines to a column, that meant the printing of 10 pages of numerals.

Somehow, she could scan those sheets of paper and instantly spot any erasures or misnumbering, either of which meant starting over from the top.

Today she would have been picketed by environmentalists for the incredible number of trees required to produce the volume of paper her punishments consumed.

As useless busy work, the numbers in reverse torture ranked right up there with repeatedly writing “I will be a young gentleman instead of a jerk” on the chalkboard until your fingers went numb.

She took special delight in slapping a heavy yardstick across the shoulders of those who dared to lose focus and look away.

Try as they might, the young “ruffians” (her description) could not figure out how to get even — until they learned she was allergic to fingernail polish.

Pouring the liquid into a desk drawer would bring the fumes directly into her face. Her allergic reaction would be funny and the best revenge ever, so they thought.

Morning came, students and teacher took their seats — and the teacher promptly fainted, face first onto the top of her desk. Her eyeglasses went flying to the floor.

While students rushed to get help for the teacher, a panicked lad leaped out of the second floor window after yelling to his accomplice:

“Run, boy, run. We’ve killed her!”

At that instant, everyone in the school knew who was responsible for the dastardly deed.

The teacher quickly recovered outside in the fresh air.

Later, she sat nodding her total approval as the principal used his two-handed wooden paddle to administer instant, painful justice.

Witnesses said he didn’t administer 1,000 blows, but the guys said it sure felt like it.

Keith Kappes is a columnist for The Morehead (Ky.) News. Contact him at kkappes@cnhi.com.