she freaked when she tried to stab him with her big fork

My seventh grade French teacher, Mademoiselle Torrosian, kept a pet
rock, Pierre, who looked like an average potato. She made occasional
mention of him, basking in his round holder on her desk, if it meant
including him as an example for that day’s lesson. “Monsieur Pierre
voudrais du bifteck et les pommes frites” if we were learning to order a steak
and fries. Or “Monsieur Pierre aime Juillet mais pas Janvier” if we were
learning to distinguish between the months. Mademoiselle Torrosian
dressed as a tablecloth, wearing a checkered yellow top above her dull
brown pant legs. She had short hair and wide glasses, though I once
caught her stepping out of Kramer Gifts, a shop at the mall where you
could buy dirty decks of cards and fuzzy dice. A neighbor of mine, Kev
Wilson, cooked up the plan to kidnap Monsieur Pierre, out of boredom,
maybe, but it was easily accomplished: I slid the rock off its pedestal into
my bookbag during the confusing crush at the end of class, and we had
him. I’m not sure that Mademoiselle ever let on that Monsieur Pierre had
gone missing, until we left her the first of our many ransom notes. Kev
and I had cut the alphabet out of numerous magazines, the way we saw
in the movies, and glued odd-shaped letters to construction paper, say-
ing, in terrible French, “Nous avons Monsieur Pierre” for “We have Mon-
sieur Pierre,” and if she’d like him back unharmed, she’d give everyone
in the class an “A.” Mademoiselle Torrosian took to reading the notes out
loud, correcting our French as she went, and then would utter pleas for
his return. She would say, in earnest, “Monsieur Pierre est mon bebe, mon petit
oiseau bleu, mon chanson et mon danse” or something like that, and the class
would stare ahead without much sympathy. We, in turn, would write
more and more perverse ransom notes, describing that we were cutting
off Monsieur Pierre’s ears, or putting out his “oeil” or breaking his nose.
Mademoiselle Torrosian’s brow would darken each time she entered the
classroom and saw a new note lying on her chair. It was a small class; fif-
teen or twenty kids, and she probably guessed it was me and Kev, but
then again, there was always that dickwad Marvin DeLeo, that girl,
Angie, who always pronounced besoin as “boz-wan” and was always
peeved when Mademoiselle corrected her, and Overman, too, that big,
crazy, silent loon of a timebomb just waiting to throw someone out the
window. Meantime, Monsieur Pierre resided in my backyard, in a reg-
ular area where many other rocks lived, and sometimes Kev and I would
have a hard time distinguishing him from your typical shale, or quartzite,
or whatever we were learning in earth science. One time, I put him in the
oven, after my mother had begun baking a load of potatoes and she
freaked when she tried to stab him with her big fork, scratching him
mightily. Kev and I used him as a hammer once, when we were trying to
build a wooden ladder in the backyard, and there we chipped him, but
the coup de grace came when we were tossing Monsieur Pierre back and
forth in a game of “you’re it” and he fell onto the patio and cracked in
half, perfectly. We vowed to superglue him back together, a clear thin line
of paste at the fissure, and soon afterwards, I snuck him back into position,
on his little round holder beside Mademoiselle Torrosian’s grade book,
even as Mademoiselle erased the blackboard. “Oh la la,” she said, turn-
ing around a minute later. She held him up to the light, smiling, at first,
then dropped him into the empty metal trashcan, where he landed with
a good boom. “Monsieur Pierre est mort—dead,” she said, then barked:


  1. Mon Dieu Pauvres Monsieur Pierre :(

  2. Uhm. Ok. Our high school French teacher went quietly mad in class one day and had to be removed. Perhaps I now know why..

    WV=frante Sounds French, eh?

  3. My former spouse had a teacher - English, I think? or one of the hard sciences - who convened the class, then promptly walked to the door, flipped the light switches off, turned to the class and said, "Now they're off."

    Then he turned back to the switches, flipped them all on (this was all done with a slight flourish), swiveled back toward them, and said, "And now they're on."

    Back (off). And forth (on). And back (off). And forth (on). Finally, one of the braver, less dumb-struck students crept toward the door, scampered out, and sought help.

    The teacher went on immediate leave. He never returned.

    "Ecoutez!" indeed.