by Frances Peacock
Today after school I’m going down to Pezanowski’s Funeral Home. I’m going to plan my funeral and make all the arrangements.
It’s not that I’m dying – Heavens, no! I don’t even feel sick. I just want the free pencils.
My class needs pencils, and Mr. Pezanowski gives them out. His pencils are shiny and black, with a little gold hearse below the eraser. The kids will love them.
I’ll have a chat with Mr. Pezanowski. I’ll discuss flowers or whatever he wants, then I’ll ask him for the pencils.
I’ll tell him I have 25 students and I’m giving a math test tomorrow. I’ll explain that the school’s supply closet is bare, and the children forget to bring pencils from home.
What is a teacher to do? My students have a pack-a-day habit with pencils. First thing every morning, they start burning through them. Write spelling words, sharpen pencils. Solve story problems, sharpen pencils. By lunchtime, their pencils are nothing but wee stubs. They flick them into the trash can, then expect me to slip them a long, fresh one to get them through the day. They’re hooked. I hope Mr. Pezanowski can give me two dozen.
After the funeral home, I’ll head over to Lenny’s Car Wash. I’ll order the Scrub and Buff, and talk to Lenny. I’ll tell him my class loves his pencils – they smell like cherries, just like the interior of a newly cleaned car.
When I’m low on pencils, I pick them up all over town.
I’ll reach my hand beneath the grimy seat of a city bus, if I think there’s a pencil down there.
In the laundromat, I’ll tilt a washing machine on its side, and, using my foot, drag a pencil out from underneath.
One time at the airport, I made six trips through a revolving door, just trying to get my hands on a pencil that was rattling around at the bottom. When I finally made the grab I was dizzy, and a cop wrote down my name, but I didn’t care. I boarded my plane to Paris with a victorious heart.
I got really lucky the day I met a man named Mo. He gave me 500 pencils with a slogan written on them: “Midnight Mo’s Auto Parts. We’ll find you a fender and paint it…FAST! Just don’t ask where it came from.”
Mo said he wouldn’t need those pencils anymore. His business had been shut down by the sheriff, and he was going away for five to seven years, then he plans to turn his life around. I don’t know what in the world he was talking about.
The way I see it, any fellow who has 500 pencils to give a teacher is already living his life quite beautifully.