I believe it was in the Eighth Grade. Our teacher was out, the classroom noisy and disruptive, a weird and frazzled substitute swishing around.

Now, when I say weird, I'm not saying that she was weird to me then. I'd still call her weird today. Red fluffed out hair, you could see the whiteness of scalp, and she was wrinkly, long, long gauzy skirts with this orange-red-brown tie-died batik streaky look. And necklaces, beads clanking and clicking. (Actually, the necklaces were the one thing I did like about her.)

Anyway, so she's trying to teach us about life forms, inanimate vs. animate, rock-tree-dog and stuff. We're talking and eating and generally ignoring her high pitched voice. The girl sitting next to me pulls out a fresh sheet of paper, draws a Hangman tree not to her liking, so she scrunches it up and throws it at me.

In a voice filled with horror and outrage and righteous indignance, the lady leaned over my friend's desk and pointed a trembling finger at her:

"You just raped a TREE!"

I think that's when we gave up all pretense of anything and started harassing her big time. Tearing pages out of notebooks and shredding them, playing catch across the desks.

We had a different substitute the next day.