April 28, 2004:

As a child my mother relayed the comment made to her by the teacher of the gifted class I attended that I had the highest IQ of all the children he worked with.

I disbelieved it. I believed he was flattering her. He probably said the same thing to all of the parents of all the children in his class.

He was an evil man. He was cutting, sarcastic and capricious. He once told a little girl in front of us all, "Your mother would teach you a word like that." He was deeply sexist, expecting the girls to be proper but giving the boys enough rope for boys to be boys. He loved it when one of the girls called him "Sir" — you could see him visibly beam. Mention the phrase "John Birch Society", watch him wink and nod. He once stood before the class to give us this speech: "I'm not allowed to discuss politics" — rolling both eyes. "But I want you to know that my son believes so strongly in what we're doing over there in Vietnam that he's re-enlisted for a second tour."

I developed a child's vocabulary of manipulations to keep as much power from him as I could grasp. I never told him, not a word, of even one little thing which mattered to me, neither electronics nor model-building nor football nor The Lord of the Rings. Instead I lied, constantly. It's nearly a given that if he asked me a question which was not part of a quiz I would immediately, even outlandishly, lie. He knew, of course. How could he not? — I was shoving it up his nose. That was fine. I correctly surmised I'd not be ejected for untruth, and if I were, the worst that would happen would be demotion from the gifted program to regular school, which would have been in my eyes a highly desirable outcome. So I lied, and dared him to do challenge me.

Mostly, I chose to absent myself. If I were "out sick" — more lies — I'd be free. Free to read or listen to music or ride my bike from one end of the city to the other. One or another self-directed activity that wasn't dangerous or threatening or a complete waste of time.