Tuesday, 03 July 2007
Laughing in Loving
By Virginia DeBolt of First 50 Words
I was teaching Title I reading out in Loving. I say out in Loving because it was a village 10 miles from where I lived in Carlsbad. A lot of the Loving teachers lived in Carlsbad. We carpooled out and back each day.
Loving Schools at that time had a superintendent named Mr. Darling - a laugh in itself. Loving is a small place with cotton and alfalfa farms surrounding it. The school is the biggest employer in town. There's also a cotton gin operation and a couple of small stores.
The second grade teacher, I'll call her Eve, carpooled with me. In those days, the government was just deciding that seat belts were a good idea and my Volkswagen tried to encourage seat belt use by putting in a gizmo so that the car wouldn't start unless all the seat belts were hooked.
Eve was a large woman. Very large. The seat belt didn't quite make it around her. If she sat down in my car before I started it, the car went beep-beep-beep and wouldn't start. She had to stand up again to fool the car into thinking the seat was empty so it would start. I always raced to start the car before she sat down so she didn't have to hoist all that weight up out of the seat due to my forgetfulness.
The school allowed a party at Valentine's Day. Parties are exhausting. Picture 25 kids who are allowed to talk and don't have to sit still and listen let loose in a small room. Add the excitement of Valentines, candy, sugary punch. And noise. Don't forget to add the noise. This is hard work and can wear out even the most physically fit teacher. As I mentioned, Eve wasn't the most physically fit.
We pile into my car, which I have started before Eve gets in, to go home after the Valentine's party event. Eve falls in the seat and says, "I'm so tired I can't think straight." We roll down the street in the direction of the cotton gin. As we approach the cotton gin, we hear the beep-beep-beep of some big piece of equipment backing up.
Eve yells, "Stop the car, I have to stand up!"
She scares me with her desperate tone and I screech to a stop right in the middle of the street. Eve opens her door and climbs out. Then she turns and stands just looking at me.
"What's wrong?" I ask.
"The car is beeping, I have to stand up. Start the car." She looks hot and ready to drop. I shouldn't, but I begin to laugh. And laugh. And laugh.
"The car isn't beeping. They're backing up something over there." I point to the cotton gin. "The car is already running, Eve, we're driving."
She finally realizes what her tired brain has done to her. Then she begins to laugh. And laugh.
For years after that, if we wanted to share a good laugh, all either of us had to say was, "Stop the car. I have to stand up."