When I was nine years old my mother signed me up in French class. I wondered why, thinking I would never go to France. I still haven’t, and seriously doubt I ever will. A bunch of classmates in that French class did go there, though, performing in the Disneyland Paris Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show in the 1990s. Surprised the hell out of me when one of them told me about it.
When I was 18 I left home and went to work at a grain elevator in the same small town I once learned to speak a little French in 4th grade. One day my French teacher came to buy some pig feed there and I helped the fellow training me load the 100 lb sacks of pig feed into the trunk of her sedan. I thought about saying hello to her and telling her I was one of her French students about a decade and a half ago but didn’t do it. She seemed to be in bit of a rush.
The next day she came back to the grain elevator in a huff, cursing at us like a sailor for selling her the wrong kind of feed, and I do mean like a very seasoned sailor. Some of her words even shocked me and I had just spent the summer working as a roughneck on wildcatter rigs in North Texas.
The fellow training me at the grain elevator—a slow-witted guy by birth and everyone in town knew that to be the case—apologized profusely and we quickly exchanged her feed sacks for the pig feed she needed. She went on cussing away at us as we did so and was beginning to piss me off for being so foulmouth ruthless with the poor fellow. I thought about interrupting her tirade to ask if she could please repeat that in French but bit my tongue, thinking what a total bitch she turned out to be after all these years.
A decade and a half after that she had an affair with my high school choir teacher’s husband, breaking up that sweet, gentle woman’s marriage. I wasn’t very surprised by that bit of news, considering her heartless behavior at the grain elevator years earlier. She died this fall, and I hope she suffered in the end. A total bitch by any measure.