Teacher Phyllis

Phyllis
By driving emmet

Say what you will about Facebook and the hours it takes from productive activity. It has certain benefits, too, like finding very old and very dear friends, like Teacher Phyllis.
I connected with Teacher Phyllis last week after, oh, 30 years. (It is getting much too easy to say things like that). She popped up under “people you might know.”
TP was the first teacher for my oldest child. She loved children and they loved her right back. For some reason, I tried to ruin her life at every turn. I don’t know why she ever paid any attention to me, but she did.
Background: You might not believe it now as I inhabit my dotage, but I used to me a little off center. One of my personal habits was bumping into friend’s cars when I spotted them. Just for laughs. In retrospect, I used to ram my tankish J. C Higgins bicycle into my unfortunate friends. Just for laughs. At least one companion ended up in the hospital with a concussion.
You might think I would have learned something from that incident. No.
If I saw your car sitting in traffic or parked somewhere, I would sneak up and tap your bumper. Nothing serious, just enough to make you jump. Then, I would drive off, laughing. I have no defense. I once caught the police chief out of town, stopped at a red light. I hit him a little too hard and the finicky chief replaced his entire bumper, just because my license plate bolts made a few scratches. Wimp.

This was back when cars actually had bumpers. You could not do that today.
Apparently, I did it to Phyllis once too often. When she drove to Lake Chickawaukie one hot summer day, she spotted my car, parked. So naturally, she snuck up and slammed into it.
Wasn’t my car.
The apoplectic driver leaped out of his car to confront a heavily embarrassed TP. She stammered “I thought you were a friend of mine when I smashed into you.”
“That’s what you do to your friends?” he asked, unbelieving. TP tried to explain what an idiot I was and what I did for amusement, then just gave up.
You might think that would be enough, that she would have nothing to do with me. But there was more.
In dire straits, I once invented a scheme to buy a new car with nothing down. You must understand that this was a long time ago before computers and e-mail and like that. My John Hubbard van exploded, as expected, and I was a pedestrian with a job as a news reporter. Not good.
I went to the neighborhood bank and filled out a car application. I invented a trade-in and applied for the most expensive model. The bank innocently approved the loan and I left a Bangor car dealer with the cheapest model, a brand new Honda Civic, with a few hundred dollars in my pocket. Like all (most) bills, it eventually got paid off.
When my pal TP was in a similar situation a few years later, I explained and recommended my scheme. She approved the concept and went off to the bank. Apparently the bank security procedures had changed drastically since I pulled my bank heist. The loan officer wanted the VIN number from the non-existent trade-in and, of course, the new car.
Busted.
The loan officer mounted his high horse, lambasted TP and might have threatened legal action.
I don’t know why she ever listened to me. No one else does. She tried to get her revenge one day when she baked a rhubarb pie. She was an illustrator for a Hurricane Island book on edible plants and knew her stuff, you see. Well, I hate rhubarb and would not take a bite, even with whipped cream.
It’s a good thing. The “rhubarb” was actually burdock and the pie was inedible. I escaped unscathed. A few others were gastronomically scarred.
Apparently all is forgiven, at least on Facebook, where she is listed under “friends.” I promise not to give TP any more advice, or smash into her car. She lives in Indiana.