It's funny how some moments stick with you for life. Some words as well. Finding a word for the letter O was no problem at all. This word popped into my head immediately. I learned this particular O word when I was 16. Yep, all the way back in high school (and please don't ask how many years ago that was).
The day started off pretty rotten. Snow had covered the ground and underneath, on the surface of the roads and sidewalks, slippery ice was hidden. I had the misfortune of living in a nook of town quite a distance from the school that had no school bus service. On days like this one, it irritated me that some people who lived closer got to ride a school bus and I had to walk. In any case, I ventured off to school with my heavy backpack, unaware of the ice until I walked down the hill. Slip, slide, and BOOM! I fell and landed hard. I got up, brushed myself off, and trudged on a bit more slowly. My jeans were a bit damp from the snow and my ankle hurt. I had hoped a friend or neighbor might pass by and offer me a ride but no such luck. When I arrived at school, I was 2 minutes late. Two lousy minutes. But I was late and ended up with a detention slip. Being known as “a good kid”, I hoped to use this to my advantage and talk my way out of it. I explained what happened but to no avail. As I took the slip from the teacher I groaned, “Fine. Next time I fall on the ice, I'll just turn around and go home.” I don't think they really cared.
So I sat through morning detention and as soon as it was over, I took a detour on the way to my next class. I stopped by Mr. Rendina's room. He taught math classes, but I had him for a computer programming course. Our current project was a doozy, and I needed a pass to come into the computer lab after lunch to work on it. Our task was to program the computer to play chess. There were so many kinks to work out, it seemed like an impossible task and the deadline was steadily approaching. When I requested a lab pass, he turned me down saying, “My rules clearly state that to receive a lab pass you must come before school starts. Otherwise, you're out of luck.” Well, he got that one right. Luck didn't seem to be on my side that day. So, even though my pity act didn't work on the other teacher, I tried it out on him. I should have known better, because he had a reputation for sticking to what he said. He turned me down again.
I don't know what got into me, but finally I had had enough. I told him, in a very snippy voice, that what kind of world is this that punishes an injured kid for hobbling off to school on a cold, winter day. They should be glad I even showed up considering they don't even have the decency to supply a school bus. (Actually, they had for all of three days but since only two people in my neighborhood took advantage of it, they didn't think it was worth stopping there.) I think I may have even mentioned that the school bus is paid in part by my parents tax dollars. Nice touch, eh? I went on to argue that I was unable to come for the pass, because my fall made me late—two stinkin' minutes late--and that I had already “paid my dues” for this tardiness by attending detention. I didn't feel it was right to receive a “double whammy”, especially when what I was asking for a bit of time to further my educational knowledge (or some kinda bullshit line like that). Gosh, it's not like I was asking to go home early to watch television or to look at next week's math test or something. I just wanted to try to finish this obsurdly difficult assignment if at all possible. I was ticked off and I didn't really give a damn that I was speaking in a disrespectful tone to a teacher. He gave me one final authoritative “No” and I stomped off to gym class.
While changing into my gym uniform, a girl came up to me and said, “Mr. Rendina said I should give this to “that ornery girl” who just left. Then she handed me a lab pass. I smiled but thought, “Ornery! Ornery! Who is he to call me ornery? I am not some little brat. I am an honor roll student. Not only that, I am freakin' secretary of the honor society. I am a team player, a long-standing member of the lacrosse team. On the tennis team, too, not to mention the yearbook staff and newspaper staff. I am not some little twerp. And gosh, darn it, I am captain of the cheerleading squad. And beyond that I.AM ANGRY!”
So I did what any teenage kid in my position might do. Immediately after gym class, I marched right up to the library and looked up ornery in the dictionary. Hmmmm...it said “having a difficult and contrary disposition.” Then I smiled the biggest smile and wasn't angry any more. After all, by that definition he spoke the truth and, to be honest, I liked being ornery. It felt good to forget that sweet tone of voice, to disregard all the rules, to not give a damn what anyone thought and just explode (and more importantly, to defend myself). AND to top it all off, I got what I wanted. I got him to change his mind, and I knew that was a great feat. He didn't budge often. This time a student had won an argument with him, and it was me.
Don't get me wrong. He wasn't a complete jerk. Sometimes he made us laugh in class. He was all right, as far as teachers go. Yet, he had a reputation for being a strict S.O.B.. Then again, a lot of teachers do, don't they? (Do I really want to admit that---after all, I am a certified teacher myself now.)
In any case, that is the story of how I learned the word ornery. I have never forgotten that word. I've even been known to use it on occasion.
Do you have a word you learned through an experience that stuck with you? I bet you have. Tell me about it. I love a good story, especially if there is a bit of humor involved. Of course, I accept regular comments as well. Yep. Comments are always welcome.
Oh, and for those of you who were expecting a different O word...shame on you. A "nice girl" like me doesn't write about things like that. You should know better than that...but I do like to toy with you. For my F word post, click here. Or for my earlier post on wizards, whacky weed, and jelly beans, click here.
Now it's off to bed for me. Good-night, world! I'm off to dream about P (the word, people!!! the word)