What I Want To Be When I Grow Up and/or How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Personal essays.  Mrs. Murphy’s sixth grade English class, Hawthorne elementary school, the un-slums of Beverly Hills, l955ish.  The zenith of the personal essay period.  I twitch at the thought of it. Mrs. Murphy, the Mount Rushmore wanna be.  A thick, heavy, bovine person; a  Newtonian proof; too much gravity in her gene pool—downward, everything seemed to be pulling her down, entire head seemed weighted, by southward bound creases, crevices actually; as if the physical act of smiling had somehow escaped her developmental processes; heavy footed, clunk, clunk, clunking down the aisles, slow spoken in a melancholic, monotonal, whiney voice; as if the very act of having to talk to us requiring every ounce of her remaining life force. Mrs. Murphy loved essays.  She didn’t have to talk.  Also sentence diagramming.  Loved it.  Plodding up and down checking for cheaters, sighing.  That classroom, with the too high ceilings and the too high windows allowing the prisoners slaving away below a glimpse of tree tops and cumulus clouds and the possibility of freedom, freedom being up, the apple before the drop, somewhere other than here at this little desk trying to look forward to a life beyond Mrs. Murphy and her ilk.  Beyond Mrs. Pearl, the homeroom teacher and frustrated, failed musical comedy Star—or “Light Opera” as she called it; which I had no knowledge of; was that opera without all those fat singers?  Mrs. Pearl with her black Clara Bow bob and her huge, purple lipsticked mouth, which looked like an eggplant, though I don’t think I’d ever seen one then. Mrs. Pearl and her tiny purple smeared teeth sitting...