Storytime – Mrs. Pelley, 8th Grade Math

As a writing assignment for the group in Brandenburg, KY, we were to write about a scary experience with a teacher, either a real story or just one made up.  This story is true, only the exaggerations are not  🙂


Mrs. Pelley, 8th grade math


   Oh, yes, I remember Mrs. Pelley.  She was the dictator who taught us math, or at least she forced us to remember enough to pass her brutal weekly tests.  I guess her methods worked to a degree, because I actually can do addition and subtraction; and maybe a few things more.  So, I learned mathematics, and I learned something about discipline, sometimes referred to as “following the rules”.

   We were growing up, getting smarter, being allowed to do a few more things at home, but Mrs. Pelley knew exactly what we were – we were CHILDREN!  It was our nature to explore the boundaries of any situation, see how far we could go, find out the consequences of our actions.  We didn’t really break it down that way, we just did it.  And, we got in trouble.

   One of Mrs. Pelley’s ironclad rules, which she spelled out for us early in the year, was “thou shalt not chew gum in this class, neither will you consume candy”.  For the most part, we followed that rule, because it was so easy to get caught.  Jaws moving too much?  “Spit out that gum!  Here’s some extra homework for you!”  Once in awhile, somebody tried the candy thing, but we mostly toed the line.  In our minds, Mrs. Pelley had posted an imaginary sign on the front wall over the blackboard “Transgressors will be exsanguinated, eviscerated, drawn and quartered, then devoured!”

   So, of course I had to eat a butterscotch mint one day in her class.  I really wasn’t thinking too much about it, I just secretively popped it in my mouth and waited for it to dissolve.  No chewing required, no telltale jaw movements; I was safe!   And, it was delicious, it was the forbidden fruit. And, she was coming down my aisle, seemingly coming right to my desk!  I swallowed.  I swallowed it whole!

   As she passed my desk without comment or notice, I was sitting there in near agony with a football stuck in my throat.  Sweat popped out on my forehead, my knuckles were white as I gripped the edges of my desk.  I closed my eyes, I suffered, I waited – either for death by asphyxiation, or for the candy to dissolve further so I could get it down.

   The story has no hideous ending; after a minute or two I was able to get it to go on down, but the whole thing still resides in my memory.  If I were to write a book about my school years, this would be titled “The Day I Cheated Death in Math Class!”


One response to “Storytime – Mrs. Pelley, 8th Grade Math

  1. Sounds like you learned your lesson. I would be willing to bet that to this day you cannot look at a piece of butterscotch candy without remembering this incident. Pain has a way of making lasting impressions.

    The way you have painted Mrs. Pelley reminds me of Anita Horgarth, the elementary school principal from the movie Uncle Buck, who referred to Maizy, Uncle Buck’s niece, as “a twiddler, a dreamer, a silly-heart” and a “jabber-box.”

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