Thursday, 14 April 2011

Ah, my fiendish friend...

As a child you expect teachers to know everything.  But believe me they do not.

In 6th grade I had to do a book report and we were free to choose the book we reported on.  I just finished reading “Bloodsucking Fiends” by Christopher Moore.   I enjoyed the book immensely, as it had a good dose of wit and comedy and the heroine was not to grotesque despite being a bloodsucking fiend. 

Now we all know the word fiend:  if you don’t, see the below extract from the Merriam Webster online dictionary.

fiend [fiːnd]


1. an evil spirit; demon; devil

2. a person who is extremely wicked, esp in being very cruel or brutal

3. Informal

a. a person who is intensely interested in or fond of something a fresh-air fiend he is a fiend for cards

b. an addict a drug fiend

4. (Informal) a mischievous or spiteful person, esp a child

Now I did a good job summarising the book in 200 words, and remember the pride I felt when I handed it in.

 I also recall the day I got it back and I saw the small red circle in the book title, the small arrow under the word “fiend” and a small red ‘r’ above it.  My dear Mrs Thomas, my sixth grade English teacher (and she was a mother tongue English speaker to boot) had subtracted one mark for a spelling error.

“Miss, the book is called blood sucking fiends” I said, when I lodged my appeal for my mark to be given to me.  I stressed the word “fiends” for extra attention and felt my hopes turn into dejection as I saw the blank look I her eyes.  “It can’t be,” she said ‘Just accept that you made a mistake and don’t make a scene now.” I was flabbergasted, gobsmacked, utterly and totally astonished at her lack of understanding.  I was a straight A student.  I did not make ‘mistakes’ like this. 

Unfortunately I had already returned the book to the library and as the library was in a town a good 60 kilometres away from where I lived, (farm girl) I had to wait a week before I could go back and find the book again. Luckily it was not out, so I did a little victory dance and planned my victory in class the next day. 

My teacher was speechless when I stood before her desk the very next morning, my book report in one hand and the book in the other.  ‘See, Miss? The book is called “Blood sucking fiends” not friends.”  I tried hard not to sound imperious, but failed miserably in that attempt.  My teacher at least had the grace to blush.

Faced with evidence such as this she had no choice but to concede the point and change my mark from 90% to 100% and I beamed for a week.   

And not because I got full marks, but because I was right and my teacher was wrong.

 I took a fiendish pleasure in my superior knowledge.

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