I thought of this teacher today that I had back in my junior year of high school(1992-1993). Her name was Grassino. She was hands-down the oddest teacher I've ever had, including all of grade school, middle school, high school and college.

First of all, she was/is an obese female version of Fox Mulder. Give her something paranormal to believe in and she believes it. UFOs, ghosts, Bigfoot, the Jersey Devil, the Mothman, honest lawyers, you name it: if it's weird, she's into it. (She was a member of MUFON – the Mutual UFO Network - one of the top in the St. Louis area supposedly). She even was convinced that the moon landing was faked. Don't get the wrong idea. I'm not saying anybody who believes in Bigfoot or aliens from outer space are nuts. (People who believe that the moon landing was fake are a bit off, though). I myself think there's something to UFOs, ghosts, and, to a lesser extent, the Yeti and I enjoy watching all those paranormal shows on television. These aren't the main reasons for her being the oddest teacher I've ever had.

First off, she was a good teacher. 'Tis true what all the students said about her. "...but she makes you think..." I had her for Science Fiction class (one of the most fun and unique classes I've ever had; every high school should have one but I doubt it existed anywhere else). Her lectures on the theories and science behind science fiction - time travel and the like - were very interesting, to say the least. She knew her stuff (well, about as well as you can know that stuff). One of the theories of time she discussed is that "all times exist at all times," meaning all events past, present, and future are happening right now and we only perceive time as linear and, if we knew what we were doing, time travel would just be a matter of moving to the left or right, etc. When she explained this she would reach out her hand and say it was possible to grab something or someone from the past. When she did this sometimes you thought she was going to produce a caveman! That explains the level of her conviction and ability to convince, I think.

What made Grassino a candidate for electric shock therapy at a mental hospital was her paranoia. Not only did the paranormal excite her, she was, as her belief that the moon landing was faked suggests, also into conspiracy theories. She would talk with you at length about the JFK Assassination. The thing was, she claimed she knew who the second shooter, or real killer was. Not thought, guessed, theorized, postulated, no, she knew. There was no doubt in her mind. But, you see, she couldn't tell you who it was or how she knew. That would put your life in danger. The look in her eyes when she told you this convinced you she wasn't bullshitting you, that she really thought she had it figured out. But you see, because she knew this, and because she spoke fluent Russian, supposedly, the FBI had special files on her. And possibly the CIA.

Think she's nuts yet? Wait, I'm not finished yet. You see, she was very concerned about the safety of her students (always a good thing for a teacher, yes). If you ever wanted proof of how wacky this lady was, all you had to do was open the window shades in the classroom. She always kept them closed. Why? Because of the ubiquitous threat of FBI agents hiding outside in the grass with guns ready to shoot and kill her if they got a good view. If you opened a shade she would about have a heart attack and frantically demand you close it again. "CLOSE THE SHADES! CLOSE THE SHADES!" She didn't want any students to be shot in the crossfire! This is what really made her the oddest teacher. Nobody else I've ever had was anywhere close to being that mad. That really freaked me out, not because I actually thought there were FBI agents out there ready to make Swiss cheese out of me, but because I was afraid she might pull out a pistol and fire back!

Grassino still teaches at my old high school (I just looked it up) and I wonder if she's still freaking students out with her zany UFO/JFK/FBI stories. I also wonder if she still wears those short shirts that expose her huge midsection whenever she raises her arms up. Yeah, her choice of wardrobe was another thing that bothered people about her. But the main thing was her paranoia. At any rate, unless she got offed recently and my school's website hasn't been updated, I suppose the FBI hasn't gotten her yet. Or the CIA.

Or the aliens.