Elementary Memories

A Geezer’s Notebook, By Jim Foster

Thought for the day: ‘I wish I knew where I was going to die and I’d never go near the place’

When I was in Grade 7, we had a wonderful teacher, Laurie Chessum. Laurie entered our class in the Kiwanis Music Festival choir competitions in the old Eaton Auditorium. The man must have had a thing for public humiliation.

We sang ‘Pie-hipp-peeing Ti-um of Galway’. That’s important! I want you to remember that because there will be a test after. It was ‘Pie-hipp-peeing Ti-um’, not ‘Piping Tim’ who was probably a Tim from Galway, but nowhere near as important as ‘Pie-hipp-peeing Ti-um’. Regardless which Tim it was, our choir came last. We finished before the piano.

Now I want you to think about this for a moment.

As we finished ‘Pie-hipp-peeing Ti-um of Galway’, there was a dead silence, then a plink. I realize now, after 70 years of running the song over and over in my mind, our class may well have been bang on. I think the piano player screwed up. I wonder if it’s too late for us to register an official protest. If it hadn’t been for the shoddy work of some horse’s ass of a piano player our class could be making a good living now in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

However it wasn’t for music that I remember Laurie Chessum. Laurie taught the boys at R.H. McGregor Public School all we would ever know about women (not all that much according to my wives and a few other disappointed ladies). One morning Laurie dropped the bomb during recess that girls were quite a bit more than poorly co-ordinated boys.

I don’t know why he chose that particular day, some girl must have had an accident in class or as Janet Jackson would say, a wardrobe malfunction, but instead of recess a roomful of snickering and smirking Neanderthals got a 15 minute lesson on the female menstrual cycle.

In retrospect, Laurie didn’t do that great a job. Most of the boys in the class started to save up for one. I wanted a Raleigh Racing Bike in the worst way, but I figured if all the other guys were going to be riding menstrual cycles, I might as well save a few more dollars and get one too.

The last year I went to school in Toronto (1950) was the year I fell in love.

It was one of those great love affairs that poets immortalize in verse or minstrels sing of when they play the Palace with Lorraine Tillet.

We were twelve.

Actually I was twelve. I have no idea how old Lorraine was. I never got up enough nerve to talk to her. Although I believe I may have waved at her from across the road. I followed her to school one morning and for the first time in my life, I noticed a girl’s bottom. I don’t know if it was a spectacular bottom, probably an average 12-year old girl’s bottom, but to me it was wonderful. Lorraine was wearing blue slacks and they/it were/was beautiful.

Pardon the confusion but I can never figure out if bottoms should be singular or plural. Lorraine’s bottom (or bottoms) was simply marvelous. I can still picture it. A bum man will understand. The vision of her will remain with me forever. To see her walking along Cosborne Avenue that glorious spring morning was enough to sustain the memory of her beauty until it drifts away in the eternal winds.

God, that line is beautiful. It brings tears to my eyes.

But wait! There’s more!

She spit into a Kleenex! I saw her do it. My Lorraine didn’t spit on the sidewalk like some unrefined trollop, she delicately pressed a pristine tissue of snowy-white Kleenex to her pouting lips and – I have no idea what she did with it, probably threw it over a fence, but I loved her.

I never told her of my love,  but I think she knew. Some nights, when all is quiet and the world is asleep, I think of her and I think I can hear her thinking of me too.

Please don’t label me as some perverted old geezer who delights in staring at young girls’ bottoms. I am not. As I grew older my appreciation of the ladies matured along with the rest of me. I no longer am interested in young misses or their bottoms. However whenever I see a 70-year old grandmother pushing a walker through Zehr’s it means a quick trip home and a cold shower.

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