My junior year, I had another English teacher named Rick Mokler. He turned out to be my one of my favorite teachers in high school. He was my English teacher for next two years - and during one semester I had him for two different classes. I adored him. One time he assigned a writing project where we all were to describe the same, common place thing: a high school locker. It was a lesson in details. “Write your piece until each word is perfect.”
I worked up some details in my mind. I wanted to include graffiti, but I also wanted it to seem accurate and not contrived. My favorite band was Van Halen - but in this case, for whatever reason, it just seemed inappropriate or unlikely, too obvious. I settled on ‘Jimi Lives’ as the graffiti on the inside of the locker door. Although I had an appreciation for Hendrix, it would have never been something I would have written. This somehow felt like a small sacrifice not to name my own favorite band, and that act made it more authentic.
When all the assignments had been handed in and graded, Mr. Mokler chose his favorite to share with the class. And without saying it was my work, he read it aloud to everyone. There was a short pause and then one of the cool surfer guys said, “Someone in this class wrote that?”
I was already crimson from the reading and when Mr. M announced it was my paper, the whole class turned to look at me. I was embarrassed, and totally thrilled to be acknowledged as a writer.