Wednesday, February 7 11:40 am
Dear Mrs. McLeary,
I have the regrettable task of informing you that I have locked your son, Jamie, in the janitor's closet. He is being punished for bringing to school a color photograph of a woman wearing red lace underpants and stiletto heels, her legs spread apart and the words "LET'S CELEBRATE HUMP DAY" written across her bosoms.
Jamie was in the act of passing the photograph around the lunch table when I intercepted it. I immediately removed Jamie from the cafeteria despite his protest that he hadn't yet eaten his bag lunch—a collection of substances totally devoid of nutritive value. I am hoping that hunger, as well as a few hours in a confined space, may be sufficient punishment to cause remorse.
If not, I may take action to have the boy suspended.
Oakcrest Elementary School
Wednesday, February 7, 11:44 am
Dear Ms. Runkle,
Boy, am I embarrassed! If you could see me now, you'd see that my face is as red as my panties.
This all began with an article I read in Parents' Magazine about what a sweet idea it is to stick a note in with your child's lunch so he can find it when he opens his little bag. So, I started writing a little message and sending it along every day, something like I WUV YOU, PUPPY or DON'T PICK YOUR NOSE AT THE TABLE.
Jamie seemed to get such a kick out of it, I thought it might be fun to put a note into my husband's lunch, too, only the sort of note that a grown man like to find in his lunch bag, if you get my drift.
But this morning Jamie let the cat in and she jumped on the counter into Jamie's cereal bowl, which spilled all over his lap. He started crying, so I had to help him find some new clothes, but meanwhile the cat started lapping up the milk, which she's allergic to and she threw up on the floor. While I was in Jamie's room, the bacon began to burn and it set off the smoke alarm, and my husband ran into the kitchen to see what was the matter and slipped on the cat puke and fell on his back.
I guess I must have put the wrong envelope into the wrong bag, or rather the reverse.
So, you see, it's not really Jamie's fault. I think that making him sit alone in a closet all afternoon is simply cruel and unusual punishment, not to mention going without lunch. (Just try to make a five year old's lunch while trying to clean up your husband and get him to Urgent Care.) So, please, Miss Runkle, let Jamie out of the janitor's closet, and I promise this won't happen again.
All the best,
Wednesday, February 7 11:53 am
Frankly, I'm nothing less than appalled that a) you would pose for such an indecent photograph; b) you would permit Jamie to come into contact with such smut; and c) that you would expect me to rescind his punishment. What sort of message would that send to your child?
When an incident like this takes place in an environment that is supposed to be nurturing of moral values—and it is only with a great deal of effort that I am refraining from imagining what Jamie's home environment must be like—it is the responsibility, nay, the duty, of the teacher to take action. It might be too late to help your son, but I must make an example of him for the sake of the other students.
If you were any sort of decent parent, you would see to it that he is punished when he gets home. I think some good old-fashioned corporal punishment is called for, as we are unfortunately not permitted to do so at school.
Wednesday, February 7 12:01 pm
Oh, come on now, Miss Runkle. Don't you think you've gone a little over the edge? After all, no harm was done. I'm sure you've done a few things in your life that you've been embarrassed about.
The whole thing is really very funny when you think about it, isn't it?
Wednesday, February 7 12:06 pm
"Very funny when you think about it?" Mrs. McLeary, you have a sick, sick sense of humor. I see absolutely nothing humorous in the situation, and if you do (for some perverse reason), I suggest that you are in need of counseling.
I would be happy to arrange a session with you, Jamie, our county psychologist, and a representative from Family Social Services. It might be beneficial in helping you get your life in order, the need of which is apparent from your letters.
I now must get back to class where I intend on giving a lecture entitled "What does the word INAPPROPRIATE mean?"
When the children go to the gym, I am going to scan the photograph, e-mail it to Principal Pearson, and see if he doesn't agree with me that suspension is called for.
Wednesday, February 7 1:06 pm
Dear Principal Pearson,
I imagine that by this time may have gotten an e-mail from Miss Runkle along with an embarrassing photo of yours truly and a request that you suspend my son, Jamie McLeary. Before you make any rash decisions, Mr. Pearson, there are a couple of things you might want to know.
First, there are twenty seven Dorothy Runkles in the US. Three live in our state, but only one lives here in Oakcrest. She's 53 years old, rents an apartment on Windemere Drive, and serves on the administrative board of Cleft-In-The-Rock Freewill Baptist Church, but you probably know all that already.
Here are some interesting trivia facts about some Dorothy Runkles that you might not know:
In 1974, a Dorothy Runkle was expelled from Collins College in Oregon (a state teachers' college) for selling hashish brownies at a Key Club bake sale. She was arrested and released on her own recognizance after being given a suspended sentence.
In 1982, a woman named Dorothy Runkle, then 30, who worked for Quality Electronics in Ohio was charged with misappropriation of funds in connection with a relationship with a Henry Fuerst, a married man and the owner of Quality's direct competition, Fuerst Electronics. According to the Akron Beacon Journal archives, the guilt or innocence of the woman was never established because Miss Runkle jumped bail a week before the trial.
Oh, and I almost forgot. The name "Hot Dot" Runkle appears in the credits for a series of 1970s independent films including GUESS WHO'S COMING AT DINNER, I KNOW WHEN I'M LICKED, and TICKLE MY TUSH.
I thought you might want to check into some of these Dorothy Runkles, especially as your Dorothy Runkle has taken it upon herself to impart moral values to kindergarten students at Oakcrest Elementary.
Wednesday, February 7 1:37 pm
Dear Mrs. McLeary,
After receiving your disturbing e-mail, I went to pay a visit to Miss Runkle. To my surprise, the children told me that when they had returned from the gymnasium, Miss Runkle was not in the classroom. When she did not answer a page, I checked the faculty parking lot and found that her car was gone. This is quite disturbing behavior for one of my staff during school hours.
On my way back to the office, I heard sounds coming from the janitor's closet and discovered that your son, Jamie, had been locked inside. He was unhurt but terribly distraught. I immediately dispatched my secretary to the cafeteria from which she returned with an Icee Chocofruit bar and a bag of Doritos, the sight of which seemed to have an immediate positive effect on him.
I will continue to attempt to contact Miss Runkle, although a call to her home phone resulted only in a message that the line had been disconnected.
I regret any inconvenience to you or your son.
PS: If you and Mr. McLeary ever find yourselves, God forbid, in marital difficulty, I would relish the opportunity to take you to dinner and a movie. Perhaps some Wednesday.
Bertram Pearson, Principal
Oakcrest Elementary School
Wednesday, February 7 2:14 pm
Just had time to grab a bite of lunch. What a wonderful surprise. I wuv you, too, puppy.
My back is feeling much better. Looking forward to celebrating Hump Day!