Wednesday, April 28, 2010


After people retire, their telephones start ringing for an entirely new reason. Besides the usual family, friends, telemarketers, wrong numbers, etc., the newly retired start getting these calls:

“Would you be interested in volunteering to . . .” fill in the blank.

Last week alone, my retired husband Tom was asked if he would: 1) Help unload a truck at the food shelf? (yes) 2) Run for county commissioner? (no) 3) Read at mass next Sunday? (yes) 4) Check on a lake cabin for an out-of-town friend who is coming up for a fishing trip? (yes)

I am much less popular than Tom and only got two phone calls: Would I be interested in running for parish council? And—would I be interested in helping judge a poetry writing contest for grades 5-12 in the school district’s Student Showcase Celebration?

First of all, regarding the parish council offer, I haven’t checked lately, but is hell frozen over?? I distinctly remember saying after I retired from teaching that I would only voluntarily attend another meeting in my lifetime when hell was firmly frozen over. I detest meetings. I loved to teach but felt that every moment that I spent in meetings was the time equivalent of being stretched out on a rack in a castle dungeon. While having my fingernails ripped out. While having boiling oil poured on my skin. Did I mention that I hate meetings?

But the poetry writing contest intrigued me. I have a degree in English, but it’s a different kind of English. You know, the technical writing, business writing, practical writing, add a pie chart, put in a spreadsheet kind of English. I did take the mandatory poetry classes in college, but that was 8 bazillion years ago. That was back in the old days when onomatopoeia and alliteration and rhyming were really big. I wasn’t even sure if they were still big.
Still—occasionally it’s nice to have a reason to comb my hair and put on some of my dusty old teacher clothes for a day. Just a day, that’s enough.

And it was surprisingly fun to read those poems and talk about composition and execution of theme and creativity with three other judges who had also said “yes” to the telephone call. And it felt good to talk about sensory details and figurative language and vivid images, even if the poet we were discussing was a fifth grader.

It felt good to put on my slightly out-of-date teacher clothes and feel a little smart again. Just for old time’s sake. Just for a day.


j9 said...

I've got some things that you can do for me that will make you feel like a teacher again...lesson plans, correcting, entering grades...?? Are you tempted? I'm not.

2to4aday said...

j9: If I lived closer, I'd be there in a minute. I'd be in my car right now, purple pen in hand . . .