Writing is like being able to put life into a snow globe. It takes the things that are too big and scary and reduces them into a form that I can put away when I want and look at from a distance. It also takes all that’s good in life and captures it into something I can take out when I want and look at close up and keep forever. It makes the bad things into something I can hold…and the good things into something I can hold onto. Both help so much that I need that little souvenir of life.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Caught by the Principal

In honor of school starting again, here is the true story of something that happened to me last year.

I’d dealt with an incident involving several high school kids. Although everything had worked out as well as it possibly could have, it’s always a good idea to document, so I started a rough draft of my documentation on a piece of scratch paper I had with me.

Earlier that day, I had been helping out in a history class where the teacher had been showing a PowerPoint presentation on Vietnam. Not having anything to do at the moment, I doodled.

I am a doodler. So I started doodling the picture of this Vietnamese dude. I know I should know the name, but I don’t. I’m sorry—I’m not a history buff. And I certainly mean no disrespect to anyone’s leaders. But the thing is, I was working on the guy’s beard when the teacher switched slides…so my doodling hand had to improvise. And I just don’t feel terribly responsible for what that doodling hand does.

The beard became a long braid.  Then I added a polka-dotted bow. Then earrings and a nose ring. I surrounded him with helicopters (á la M*A*S*H), palm trees, and for no explicable reason, volcanoes.

So these were the notes I used to draft my documentation. Except…just as I was finishing up the rough draft, the principal showed up at the door and asked to see me in the hall. He was happy with the way I had handled the situation, but he needed the names of the children who were involved. I started to check my notes and told him I had been drafting a statement.

“May I see it?” he asked. Um. Well. I sort of hid the paper behind myself, guiltily.

“I need to recopy it,” I explained. “But first I could just check the names….”

He told me that was okay—he could just read my draft. He held out his hand. I stood there like an idiot. “I’ve drawn all over the page,” I blurted out. “It’s a…habit. It was Vietnam, and I….It might be hard to read. Why don’t you let me recopy my notes quickly?”

He wasn’t buying it. He needed to see it, please. Now.

So I shuffled my feet and looked at the floor. Here I was, a forty-something-year-old-teacher, summoned by the principal, admonished to hand over a paper with silly drawings on it. I handed it over.

I watched his eyes dart around the page, and the corners of his mouth quivered ever so slightly. Still, I have to hand it to him, he held his face as still as possible and read my notes without giggling. Then when he was done, he sort of winked and said, “I’ll let you get back to Vietnam.”

In all fairness, it could have been much, much worse. I’m partial to silly hairdos, and I’d given the guy a sort of modified “Betty Boop” earlier but had erased it off because it just wasn’t the look I was going for.

I yam what I yam and that’s all that I yam ~Popeye the Sailor Man


  1. I just LOVE your artwork! Never could draw faces, but tried to draw people to tell stories about. At least the principal didn't keep your paper! It should be framed!

  2. WOW! an artist and a writer, what talent. Funny how things like this happen, doodle, notes, principle :D
    Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

  3. You guys are too sweet...my greatest talent is often embarrassing myself. I'm just glad I hadn't drawn the principal or teacher or somebody!! :-o


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