Monday, November 17, 2014
Mr Sullivan was not your prototypical High School English teacher. Short, on the frumpy side and always wearing one of those sawed-off ties, he ruled his classroom on the premiss of exploration. He was fun. There wasn't the rebelliousness that pervaded other classes like religion (it was a Catholic School), history or civics.
Mr Sullivan would sit cross-legged on his enormous oak desk and read passages from the Lord of the Rings, creating fantastical images using his voice like a cello. His rendering of the Baggins persona colored my imagination like a Middle Earth Master.
He also assigned homework that I felt was sometimes excessive. Like three pages on Holden Caulfield's coming of age, how Dickens wove plots with charter development or what made EA Poe scary.
He would also leave us on Friday with a chance to improvise over the weekend, something we begrudgingly accepted. I always figured a way to fit in the assignment between baseball games and the beach.
One that I remember was his patented 'threesome'. On Friday just before the bell, he would slide over to his desk, snap open the top drawer and remove three items, holding them up one at a time to build the suspense. We all knew the assignment would be to create a story using the three, however strangely related or seemingly independent.
One time he first showed us a copper penny (oooh), then a wooden match (aaahaa) and lastly, adding the requisite drama, just a half-measure before the bell and the utter chaos of a scrambling exit, a pair of sun-glasses which he donned with a smile as we ran towards the door. (yeeeoooooooooh)
I remember looking back as I hit the exit and saw him standing at the window, hands clasped behind his back looking up at the morning sun. I could see his grin in the reflection of the glass.
It was my first taste of what would soon become something known as cool.