The Prostitute Incident

“Substitutes are prostitutes.”

I didn’t actually know what a prostitute was, but as an aspiring wordsmith in the fifth grade, something about that  just sounded right.

It wasn’t.

We were waiting in the hallway at Rushmore School for class to start. Since Mr. Myerhoff was out we had a substitute, and she began her day by hearing me call her a prostitute. She came out, grabbed me by the shirt and dragged me off to the office.

If Mr Meyerhoff heard what I said he would have set me straight and it would have ended right there. He was the best elementary school teacher ever, and knew how to deal with nine-year-old boys. But Mr. Meyerhoff was out that day. And the rest is history.

The principal demanded to know why I’d done it. Not having a good answer I dropped back and punted. “I don’t know. I heard a sixth grader on the playground say it.

“OK. Why don’t you go out there find that sixth grader and bring him in here.”

Outside, I looked around forlornly and thought about pinning it on somebody else. They’ll get blamed and I’ll be off the hook. Instead I just returned to the office.

I got back  just in time to hear the gym teacher, Mr. Ceccoli, say “Madeo? Oh, yeah. He’s a troublemaker.” Thanks a lot, Mr. Ceccoli. I’m sure you don’t remember calling me a troublemaker, but I certainly remember you being a jerk.

Then the principal got on the phone with my mother and explained the whole thing. They agreed to send me home, because the substitute teacher couldn’t stand the idea of having me in her classroom.

I waited all day to get in trouble — especially once my father got home. This was back in the day when it was OK to smack your kids. I’d had trouble at school before for little things, but calling the substitute a prostitute? Then getting tossed out of school for the day? This would surely be the end.

But nobody said a word. Could it be that they recognized how stupid the whole thing was and how the school overreacted. Is it possible that my mother never even told my father? I don’t know.

Overall, it turned out to be a pretty good day. Got off from school, didn’t get in trouble, and learned a new word. Mr. Myerhoff was back the next day and all was right with the world.

16 thoughts on “The Prostitute Incident

  1. Haha – funny story. I read Mr. Ceccoli and immediately thought of Mr. Spicolli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High!

  2. Funny, but IMO overreaction. A simple “this is not acceptable and this is why…” should have been all that was necessary. Of course, I suppose that depends on how you said it.

  3. I once wrote “Iran sucks” in chalk on the playground at school. I got called into Mr.Roemke’s room….he asked me what it meant. I too had no idea. I had to write “I will not write bad words on the sidewalk” like 100 times. In retrospect, it was a huge miscarriage of justice. Because Iran does suck. I didn’t like censorship then, and I still don’t! BTW I ran into Mr. Roemke a few years ago..we are terrified of this guy. He’s like 5’6″ and 145 lbs. I was still a little afraid.

  4. You should have just apologized to the principal, told him that you were young and, abashedly said that you misused the word and really just meant to call her a whore..

  5. I have some strange ringtones for people I know. At work, the other day a colleague and I got into a partially filled elevator to go down to a public seminar. I took out my phone and told my friend that I needed to silence the ringer because I didn’t want something embarrassing coming out of my pants in the middle of the seminar. I really didn’t realize until some of the people turned red…

  6. Lissa: Mr. Meyerhoff never said anything, which is a very guy thing to do.

    Mr. Meyerhoff really tailored his classroom to the boys. He had a bulletin board full of baseball cards — which would be worth a fortune today — talked sports with us lads, and really exuded a man’s man vibe.

    I don’t think that meant it was not a good environment for the young ladies, who I’m guessing saw him as a strong, confident fatherly figure.

    Through sixth grade (with the detestable Mr. Dowler) I hated my teachers, except for Mr. Meyerhoff, who was awesome.

  7. Yeah, you really shoulda ended up in the gulag, dude. Because everybody knows substitutes are not prostitutes. Sometimes they’re scabs, but that is about as far as I’d ever take it.

  8. Rob I lived a parallel life rushmore(blue ribbon school) myerhoff (saint),my dad was in the same trade as yours, so I write with some level of expertise when I tell you that you had it all wrong. Cecoli was the prostitute. CPHS class of 81

  9. @Vincent: Some people will read my “jerk” remark and think it’s a little harsh. While Mr. Ceccoli had a distinguished career as an educator and coach at Carle Place, all I can remember is how he treated the kids who were not very athletic.

    Sarcasm and mockery directed at little children is not a very admirable character trait.

  10. Most elementary schools have a bully. They just don’t normally wear a whistle,polyester shorts,and a bad comb-over.

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