Learning is difficult if you have disabilities, but I found the perfect teacher, and not many are able to find him. -Intellectual Shaman
Middle School is a time when we figure out there is a hierarchy, and I was at the bottom. I had dyslexia, meaning that I had trouble reading; all the words blended together and I couldn’t sound them out. The assistant worked with me, but even she became frustrated. “Andy, focus!” She said. I did, but the words went up and they went down, like a rollercoaster across the page. I just wasn’t a reader, even though I looked at the pictures and imagined what the story could be. My favorite was, Finding Sasquatch. Some had claimed to have seen Sasquatch, but never to have found ‘im. Others were trying to catch the creature in bear traps, but the Sasquatch was smarter than them. It had lived for hundreds of years, like a legend. It wasn’t all that smart, but it had lots of experience. Maybe I was the same as Sasquatch. I couldn’t read, but if I had a hundred years…
After school, I took these long walks through the woods, and the trees would whisper to me, groaning and complaining, the way old things do. I had my favorite spot where I read the Sasquatch book, or should I say, looked at the pictures. A tree with crooked limbs reminded me of Sasquatch, so I started calling it the Sasquatch Tree. I read there for hours, until the woods turned red for a moment, and then the sun went down.
It was in the month of January when the snow had fallen that I saw my first sign of Sasquatch. It was a footprint twice the size of a man’s or I guess it could’ve belonged to an NBA basketball player. I measured it with my ruler. 25 inches. I looked around. The woods were empty. I told my parents about Sasquatch, and they told me to stop reading that book, but I couldn’t. I believed in him. So, as the winter months turned into spring, I kept my eyes open. I was last in my 7th grade class, and they told me I would have to repeat a grade.
I went to the woods to clear my mind. Middle School was a time I wanted to pass through, but it looked as if I might get stuck. The sun was cutting through the dark trees like a magical flashlight when I saw its outline for the first time. It was big. It was hairy. It was smiling.
“Hi,” I said.
“Ughhhh, hoogha, hello,” it said.
“So, you’re Sasquatch?”
“Yes,” it said shyly.
“And no one has found you before?”
It shook his head. “Been found many times. Just prefer privacy. Make people promise not to say anything about me.”
“How do you know they’ll keep their mouths shut?”
“I just know, from years of experience. Watcha got there?”
“A book, on you, I guess.”
“Oh, on me? Let’s have a look see…”
He walked over. The Sasquatch was at least 10 feet tall. When he got closer, I was surprised I wasn’t afraid. He reminded me of a lovable carpet.
“Oh, these pictures not look like me.” He traced his black finger across the shape. “What does it say?”
“I can’t read,” I said.
“But you’re in middle school?”
“I know, I have a disability.”
“Oh, I had many disabilities. It took me some time to learn how to read.”
“You can read?”
“Yes; it took over a hundred years. Benjamin Franklin taught me.”
“Yeah; maybe I can teach you how to read. I’ve had lots of practice learning because I’m slow.”
That spring Sasquatch helped me learn how to read. I made so much improvement, so quickly, that I was told I could graduate to 8th grade. My teacher did end up retiring though, and there was a vacancy.
“I know someone who is a really good special education teacher,” I said.
“Who?” The principal asked.
“He’s the one who taught me how to read.”
“Well, tell him to come in for an interview.”
I talked to Ben about it. That’s right, Benjamin Franklin named him Ben, after himself. The Sasquatch thought long and hard. He twisted the brown hair under his chin in thought, and when he made up his mind, he rose to his feet.
“Okay,” he smiled.
“There’s just one problem,” I said.
“You’re a Sasquatch; they won’t let you into school.”
“Oh, well maybe this won’t work then,” he said.
“You know what, I have an idea. Renton School District is an equal opportunity employer that doesn’t discriminate against race or religion. You are a Sasquatch, so maybe that counts as a race, and you know what?”
“You could dress in religious garb that would totally cover you at all times. Then you would meet both statutes, and remain completely hidden from teachers and students.”
“That might work,” Ben said.
Next year, Ben was the best special education teacher the district ever had. The female teachers wanted to know what he looked like. He was 10 feet tall, and a guy above 6 feet is attractive, but Ben was very religious. He refused to take-off his garb.
“I know you’re religious, but it’s picture day,” the photographer said.
“Pictures are against my religion; they steal my spirit,” Ben replied.
He was the invisible man, even though he was enormous. The janitor complained about his hair in the urinal.
“I’ve never seen anything like it!” Who has pubic hair a foot-and-a-half long? Seriously, someone needs to manscape!”