Why does she call him by his first name? No one else at school calls him by his first name…
I could tell she had a thing for my teacher. Boy is she going to wish she’d taken it seriously when I asked her out after he knocks her back. I boasted to myself through my jealousy. She’s going to make an idiot out of herself here, he’s a teacher, she’s a student, of course he won’t be interested. He’s in his 40s!
Turns out she was no idiot. I. Was the idiot.
She was 14 and in grade 10. I was 15 and a grade above. We’d known each other since we were 7 years old and in second grade. We were “girlfriend and boyfriend” on and off the whole way through primary school before losing touch with each other when I moved to high school a year before her. We lived across the (waterless) creek from each other. She was incredibly fun, I was always getting into trouble because she’d have me laughing hysterically at the most inappropriate times. I always found it confusing as to how she became such a creative, outgoing and hilarious person. As kids her house was always a little awkward to be around, because her family were european and her dad was always stern and dismissive with her. I never once heard him speak in english (it was 1994, so i’d never been to another kids house that didn’t have english speaking parents). But the vibe I got (which could be totally wrong for all I really know) was that he didn’t really have much time for her. Her mum was wonderful though.
I’d kind of forgotten about her until she graduated into the senior area of our high school. I was totally smitten by her and I had to tell her! She invited me to her place to hang out. That’s when she told me that she had a 31 year old boyfriend from overseas she’d met in an online chat room. I thought it was weird of course but I had absolutely no sense that this was a dangerous situation. She told me that her parents were really pissed about this relationship she’d been having online and that she was mad at them in return for not understanding it and for not allowing them to meet in person. All I could think about was how much this screwed up my chances of us dating again, because she liked older guys.
That’s when she started referring to one of our teachers by his first name. She said that our teacher was really understanding and that he’s great to talk to. He must have met her dad I remember thinking. What an awesome teacher he must be to give her his private e-mail address and to counsel her like her actual father probably doesn’t. Eventually I got frustrated with the inadequacy of my age not being appealing to her and stopped pursuing her.
She’s crazy if she thinks adult men are going to go out with her.
He was everyone’s favourite teacher. Undisputedly. He wasn’t like all of the other teachers. He was in touch with us. He knew how to talk to us and he knew how to engage with us. Year after year students would love his classes. He was motivated, dedicated and in touch! Who wouldn’t feel special to have extra access to the guy outside of school?! Every single. parent. teacher. and. student. LOVED. this. man.
By the time i’d gotten to year 12 I had completely forgotten about my crush on her, her ‘weird’ attraction to older men and her ‘privileged’ relationship to the ‘student favourite’ teacher of our school.
“They’re together, didn’t you know? They have been for ages!” Bragged a mutual friend of she and I.
I didn’t believe it. What bullshit. So I thought fuck it, I’ll ask her. Then it was very real. She was so proud of it. That was when I learned about the drugs he gave her, how he’d dress her up in nurses outfits, about how they’d have sex at school, about all of the close calls between them and other school staff nearly busting them, about how another of the schools most popular teachers and close friend of his also knew about this relationship, about how he simply viewed this relationship with a grade 11 student as a “bad idea”. I thought it was all her fault. I thought she’d forced him into it, that she was messing up HIS life. I saw her fading away into a permanent haze of pills and coke that he bankrolled. Everyone just accepted the fact that they would fuck each other between the walls of a construction area in our school. That when the principle would come into his room after school for a chat, completely unaware that she was on her knees under the very table they talked across.
The relationship continued after she left school as we all watched the drug use go up at the same rate that her mental stability appeared to go down. I was living with friends, my housemate’s girlfriend was part of her social circle still and we lived at “the party pad”. That was when I saw a very different version of our teacher than the one we’d all known. The two of them would break up, get back together, break up, get back together. I remember it was new year’s eve at our party pad and it just so happened to fall during one of their separated phases. I don’t really know why, but she invited me to listen in on a jealous rant of his over the phone that night…
…that was when I finally heard it. The manipulation, the way he spoke to her like a disappointed father because she was partying with people her own fucking age…
…‘well, i guess this does say a lot, if you’d rather be there with people like that, I hope you are happy with that, I guess I just thought perhaps…’sigh’… that you were more mature than that’.
It wasn’t much later in the new year that she took refuge at our place during the next break-up, that he beat the absolute shit out of her car in our drive-way. Full ‘Wolf of Wallstreet’ mode in some kind of a coke-binge-tornado of passionate fury.
I randomly saw her maybe a year or so after while I was working in a tobacconist. She was in a slightly manic panic telling me about how she’d just stolen about 10 grand from his personal safe and was moving to Melbourne to become a professional skater. Next time I saw her was in my early 20’s. I tried to talk to her but she barely knew who I was let alone where she was.
And I judged HER. I didn’t know shit. I thought all of this was the product of her own poor decision making and that it was really sad to see someone i’d known most of my life become a shell of themselves because of their ‘mistakes’.
Turns out i’d later get married to a victim of childhood sexual abuse. And because of her journey and courage, had my eyes opened to just how cunning and masterful predators like child abusers can be.
I was there when I saw her not get the attention from her father she probably needed, I was there when she started to seek out the attention of older men and I was there when she unknowingly played directly into the hands of an opportunistic piece of shit who destroyed her fucking mind, body and life.
But not once in my life did I get told by anyone how an appropriate relationship between a child and an adult should look. Not one teacher, parent or sibling discussed it. I had absolutely no idea what was happening right in front of my face. But they didn’t know any better then and neither did I!
We all knew. Other teachers knew. Other parents knew. Eventually someone made a complaint to the school, but she was no longer a student then. The school politely asked him to resign (a credit to all of the great work he had done there since the place opened). Where was his next job…? A girls only high school.
As far as I’m aware he was last known to be teaching in a rural area to indigenous Australians. And I have zero. ZERO doubt…
… he’s the most popular teacher there.