TERRY DULLUM: The Dullum File — I’m Sorry

This is Teacher Appreciation Week. A week to recognize all the underpaid, underappreciated teachers out there to whom, if we are anything, we owe practically everything.

One night this week, Jimmy Kimmel gave folks walking past his theater on Hollywood Boulevard the opportunity to apologize for classroom crimes and misdemeanors committed while they were in school. Most related theirs in vivid detail to teachers — by name.

I’d like to add my apology to Mr. Kimmel’s list, albeit to a teacher posthumously. (Feel free to add yours in the comment section of this blog post.)

Though I’m neither Catholic, nor Jewish, I still carry around a fair bit of guilt about one particular music class incident.

Although I’m sure there were others, mine was a group offense. There’s safety in numbers, in that it’s harder to punish a group of offenders than an individual. Or so we thought.

Again, it was a group effort. The group was our school’s junior boys’ chorus. The victim was our chorus teacher Mrs. Marilla Brazell, a very sweet, impossibly upbeat person who wouldn’t have hurt a flea, much less been anything less than kind and supportive to her students. And so, of course, we found her vulnerable.

Somehow we had preplanned it, just before music class and just before Mrs. Brazell entered the room. Our vehicle would be the U.S. Marine Corps Hymn, which we were just learning. On the lyric, “Here’s health to you and to our Corps,” we thought it would be hilarious to sing the word Corps, not as “core” but as “corpse.”

First run-through Mrs. Brazell clapped her hands, stopped the music and cheerfully corrected our “mispronunciation.”

Second verse, same as the first. “Corpse,” not “core.” Clap hands, stop the music, correction, less cheerfully.

Third time, if memory serves, she rushed out the chorus room, probably in tears. Mission Accomplished!

Why did we do it? Boredom, probably. What can take a nothing day and suddenly make it all worthwhile? A little hijinks. A little misguided hijinks.

Even though it was a group offense, I am sorry, not just because she was a teacher but also because she was a MUSIC teacher. Then, as now,  I’m a music lover, and for me somehow that makes it even worse.

Anyway, did I mention, Mrs. Brazell, I’m sorry? I’m really, really sorry.

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