the last visible dog (intertext) wrote,
the last visible dog


This morning, while I was walking on the Westsong promenade with Robinson, I passed, and greeted as I passed, my old High School art teacher and his wife. Seeing them, as I quite often do, running into them on that walk and at Thrifty's and elsewhere, made me think about how you often seem to keep encountering certain people over a lifetime, and to wonder whether there's some cosmic "connection" that makes that happen. What possible connection I could have with my High School art teacher is hard to fathom, unless perhaps we had a relationship in a previous life.

He was not one of my favourite teachers at school, being one of those small men in a position of power who become bullies. He was not a particularly good teacher, but he was an ambitious one, equipping our school with the makings of a near professional silk screen operation. He was also an expert calligrapher, and so that was one of the units of study in a year with him. He made up for lack of inspiration with extreme strictness, being known to throw someone out of his classroom for fairly minor disciplinary infractions. My guess now is that he was not very confident of his ability to control the large sporty types who took art as an easy elective, so exerted a fierce control at the slightest provocation. I disliked him. My father, in one of those expertly calculated appropriately inappropriate gestures he was so good at, hired him to inscribe a bookplate for a book my parents gave me as a graduation present. Think about that, and the little snigger my father gave as I saw the initials on the bookplate, and you'll learn something about my father (and understand perhaps why I disliked him, too).

You might think that would be enough for a lifetime, but strangely, we connected in other ways later in life. After I came back from China, I worked for a time for the University of Victoria's English as a Foreign language program. My boss? Turned out to be his wife. He turned up at a program party. And SHE was a piece of work, too (maybe another time I'll tell you about that episode of my life).

After I left there and got my job with my current college, I met him again, in another venue. Before I developed hip problems, I was quite a keen, if inexpert, figure skater. Guess whom I met at the morning "Adults Only" figure skating session? Him again. We even took a few turns around the ice together and chatted about old times.

Then my arthritis got too bad and I stopped going, but I kept running into him and his wife - the reason? They live in my neighbourhood, about three blocks away.

I hope nodding politely and exchanging greetings will fulfill whatever obligation I owe to him from a past life.
Tags: memoir, thoughts

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