It started with him taking attendance. “That’s a beautiful name for a beautiful girl”, he said after doing a double-take following my “Here.”

I was a sophomore in 1995.


Our substitute teacher in geometry was young and relatively handsome and the class was uproariously entertained when he put me on the spot and made a comment about how much better his day would be if the skirt of the cheerleading uniform I was wearing for Game Day was just a few inches shorter.

He continued with how surprised he was that the school let me “walk around like that” and how distracting it must be for all of the boys in my classes. Some of the guys in the room egged him on and the daggers I shot them didn’t faze.

He kept talking to me and, despite my one word answers and lowered gaze, he walked over and sat on my desk and asked what time the game was because he wanted to come watch me cheer. The class “Oooooooooohhhh!!!!” -ed and shouted “7:30!!!” And roared with laughter.

I glared at him, pick up the hall pass and walked out. I waited in the bathroom for the bell to ring and didn’t go back to class.

My tongue wasn’t nearly as sharp then as it is now. I sat in the stall, while the dripping faucet echoed on the industrial tile, and wished so bad I could’ve thought of something cutting to say, instead of running.

Another teacher pulled me out of my next hour to ask what had happened because she heard other students talking about it. I gave her my story and she sent me back to class.

That was it.

I heard he was fired and I never saw him again. I was very nervous cheering the game that night.

It wasn’t the first time, or the last, that I was harassed & humiliated by a man in a position of authority over me.

It’s one of many anecdotes from my childhood that I happen to remember.

Mama, writer, lover, fighter — I wear my heart on my sleeve because my pants pockets are too small.

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