Air freshener, please?


by cheri block sabraw

Hello Girls.

[Startled young bodies crow-hop to the left]

Alicia runs into a stall. The toilet flushes.

The latch clicks. She feels safe for a minute.

Cigarette smoke fills the space.

Nat and Georgia copy their friend, Alicia.

I hear the quick fizz of hot smokes being extinguished in cold toilets.

OK Girls, I see that you aren’t ready for your quiz today.

You little chickens have made a big mistake cutting my class.

Black boots, filthy Vans, and sequined flip-flops shift inside the stalls.

The rifling through their large leather purses sounds like that bear up at Tahoe last summer, the one that sifted through three garbage cans, digging and investigating, sniffing and growling, I think to myself.


[More contraband going down the toilets at American High School. Cigarettes, maybe a joint or two.]

I am so disappointed in you girls. Call me naïve. Call me stupid, but I was sure you cared about my class. What in the world came over you guys? You have to pass this test to pass the class. Are you stupid? I don’t think so. Your behavior today has really ticked me off, to my core.

Please open those doors.

[All three doors open.]

I move in front of the middle stall like the conductor of a hillbilly band.

You’ve given me no other option than to test you right here, so sit down on the toilets. Don’t worry. You can balance.

WTF, Mrs. Sabraw?

Clean up your language, Alicia. I am not your juvey officer.

[All three girls sit down.]

Take out paper, please.

We don’t have any paper.

Yes, you do. Look to your left. You’ll need several feet of it.

[They unroll toilet paper.]

Take out pencils, please. Feel free to use your eye-liner pencils. I can see you have plenty of those in supply.

[They fish through their overstocked purses through lighters, eye-lash curlers, and now empty cigarette boxes.]

Ok. The first question on Of Mice and Men:

  1. Why do you suppose George stuck up for Lennie, even when Lenny blew it most of the time?

Test taking continues in the American High School girls’ bathroom for about 30 minutes. Other cutters come in, see the scene, and run out.

At the end of the quiz, I collect their toilet papers and then escort the guilty to the 9th grade principal.

Mr. D, please let Alicia, Nat, and Georgia know how Of Mice and Men ended.

Spare  their lives, but suspend them for three days.

Girls, while you will be gone, we are starting a new book. Stay right here for a minute while I go get you your copies.

There. Please read the first 5 chapters of Lord of the Flies.

See you on Thursday.

Good- bye, Mrs. Sabraw, they say in unison.

About Cheri

Writer, photograph, artist, mother, grandmother and wife.
This entry was posted in Writing and Teaching and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Air freshener, please?

  1. Brighid says:

    You are fantasticly talented, and creative to boot.
    I’ve a question: how to keep from freezing up on the big test when I know the material?

  2. Cheri says:

    Everyone has her own way of studying.
    My practice is to make notations in the texts
    and then type them and create a folder on my computer.
    As far as test taking anxiety,well, you might quiet your mind.
    Reassure yourself.
    Confidence is part of it.

  3. andreaskluth says:

    I tried it. I mean I wrote on my toilet paper. it doesn’t work–the pen rips through the paper.

    You are a teacher I would have liked to have. But then, being the student I was, I would have gathered a posse (large enough so that suspension would deplete your class below a quorum) and … asked for help with Of Mice and Men while you were on the potty.

  4. Douglas says:

    I doubt I ever would have skipped your class (though I skipped more than my share). What’s weird is I had to go read up on Of Mice and Men to refresh my understanding of the question. A better question might have been…

    “Why do you think Curley’s wife had no name?”

  5. Victoria says:

    Did you seriously do that?
    It gives me a great deal of amusement to picture it. Someone should put that scene in a movie.

  6. Cheri says:

    Welcome to the blog, Victoria.
    Yes, that little scene absolutely happened.
    The local paper picked up the story.

    A scene in a movie?
    That would be cool.
    The actress would have to be about 25 years old. 🙂

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