|" 'Bam!' went the yardstick on the desk. 'I'm Mr. Springer.'
That is how I remember the first day of senior high English class and the first time I met you."
Mr. Springer (he will never be Wayne) laughed and shook his head. "No, it wasn't like that." The voice was still strong, the eyes sharp, but the words slurred around the six beers he had just finished.
Of course, I didn't argue. Forty-six years were gone but I was still the student and he the young, tall, muscular and serious teacher.
Had I seen him another time? Perhaps not. The Village Tavern is one of my hangouts. Over wine, my younger brother had eyed the old, short wiry man and asked "Isn't that Mr. Springer?" Three glasses of wine gave me the courage to walk up and find out.
"Excuse me, are you..."
"Yes, I am."
I had forgotten how he could make you feel uncomfortable.
"ah... Mr. Springer?"
"Yes, and you are...."
"I'm one of your students from your first year teaching."
He looked me up and down.
"In 100 words or less, what have you done with your life since I last saw you?"
In my one chance to impress the high school teacher who inspired me to write, I used the literary skills honed over decades of practice to recite my autobiography "I went to college, became a doctor, got married, had children and grandchildren."
Brief, uncreative, boring.
He smiled shook my hand, and headed for the door.
So, I told him what really mattered to me. Why I walked up to him in the first place.
"Thank you, Mr. Springer, for teaching me writing."
This one is for you.