Thursday, September 17, 2015

Mrs. Delarama and The Velcro Offensive

Her name was Mrs. Delarama, and she was my grade school librarian. She could have come straight from central casting for grade school librarians, and I don't mean today's hip grade school librarians who wear corduroy and clogs and dress up like The Cat in the Hat to make kids love reading.

Not at all. 

I'm talking about the (literally) old school, scary, matronly type of grade school librarian who constantly told everyone to SHHHHHHHHH while she droned on and on about the Dewey Decimal System. That was the kind of school librarian that Mrs. Delarama was.

Mrs. Delarama dressed like a cross between a Mennonite farm wife and the witch from Hansel and Gretel. She wore little bifocals on a chain, had gray, wiry hair in a haphazard bun, and she was extremely grouchy. Here's what Mrs. Delarama liked: The Dewey Decimal System. Here's what Mrs. Delarama didn't like: literally everything else, and especially kids. 

But the thing Mrs. Delarama liked least of all was Velcro.

Velcro sneakers had just recently come into vogue when I was sitting cross-legged in Mrs. Delarama's library class, and it was NOT a welcome development as far as Mrs. Delarama was concerned. More than the regular sounds that children made, Mrs. Delarama hated--HATED--the sound of children playing with their Velcro sneakers.

Which of course is why every kid loved to play with their Velcro sneakers under Mrs. Delarama's pointy nose. 

At the first sound of Velcro, Mrs. Delarama would make a big show of stopping everything to call out the offender. Naturally, provoking Mrs. Delarama with my own Velcro sneakers was completely irresistible to me, so when my turn came to be the straw to break that camel's back, I took it.

Mrs. Delarama was her usual flustered self that morning. At least three kids had played with Velcro already, and everyone was talking and horsing around. I could see that Mrs. Delarama's short fuse was already about to blow, but I just couldn't help myself. I began peeling back one of the Velcro straps on my pink KangaROO sneakers (the ones with the useless little pockets on the side). I saw Mrs. Delarama's head whip around and her black, beady eyes bore directly into my face. I stared right back at her and, without looking down, smiled as I peeled the strap the whole rest of the way, watching her wrinkly old face redden with anger at the SCRRIIIITCCCHHH sound of the Velcro separating.

"TO THE GREEN COUCH, ELIZABETH!," she shouted and pointed her scrawny finger out the library door. The Green Couch was a stiff, old, pea soup green Naugahyde sofa outside the principal's office, where you would wait to be called in to get yelled at some more. If Mrs. Delarama could have been a piece of furniture, she would have been that old pea soup colored fake leather couch. 

It may not come as a surprise to frequent readers of this blog that I made many involuntary trips to The Green Couch. Up until about 9th or 10th grade, getting kicked out of class was sort of my specialty. But at least on that day, I didn't have to hear any more about The Dewey Decimal System, and I could play with my Velcro KangaROOs as much as I wanted.

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