When I was in high school in the 1980s, in the 9th grade, I accidentally started a rumour about a teacher who I hadn’t had any classes with.
I began high school in New Westminster and had moved to Chilliwack BC, a rural community, so the country kids were really different in my view as a city kid.
I joked that she was so old, that she’s been a camp follower in the Roman-Phoenician Unification wars and the other students I told it to – and more importantly, the ones who heard parts of it as they walked by my group – missed the Time Clue – I was making an age joke not a sex worker joke about a woman who could have been a 1950s old school teacher gripping a ruler poster girl for.
The gossip that that 60 year oldish art teacher had been a WWII hooker triggered her retirement and the teachers admonished the classes with shock at the level of disrespect given directed at the staff.
But, what shocked me was how fast the idea spread, I had made the joke at the morning class break – the high school version of the morning coffee break – to my friends, who were totally shocked by joke both that I made an age joke and that I disrespectfully sexualized a teacher. they however, realized I was completely joking.
People who overheard, only heard bits of it. After school the same day, after getting home my sister told me about the art teacher’s secret WW2 past.
I was horrified to realize that my little joke had taken on a life of it’s own, and I told my sister, so she could also correct it – she was in the 8th grade. but the damage was done.
It was over the weeks that the whole school being talked to class by class and that teacher eventually deciding that children were ungrateful wretches, which, we were, but to be fair, school was boring compared to television and now it’s almost redundant in terms of trivia memorization to the internet.
It was the era of kids chanting “We don’t need no education” down the hallways and the students not understanding why the teachers and the nerdiest kids were laughing.