Mrs. Rusanoff was my second grade teacher. She was huge, a towering giant of a woman with steely curly hair and owlish glasses.

The first spelling list that we were given consisted of the words us, an, and off. In this way, she ensured that we would all be able to spell her name. I thought it was rather conceited.

Once, our class was all sitting on the floor of the gym / cafeteria for an assembly, when I looked down into Mrs. Rusanoff's big black purse and saw a package of True cigarettes. Horrified (because I felt smoking was evil - both my parents smoked), I turned to one of my classmates and whispered urgently, "Mrs. Rusanoff smokes!"

My classmate responded with a "so what" loud enough that she heard it, and took me outside of the assembly.

"Jenny, you are a nuisance," she hissed at me while clasping my upper arm.

I think Mrs. Rusanoff was most of the reason I hated to be called Jenny.

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