People hate their own failings – in others. Teachers who invariably arrive late lambaste students who show up during rollcall. For themselves, there is always a reason for lateness: their son was sick, the dog ran away, there wasn’t enough milk for coffee, an essential component of the lesson was misplaced – or failing that, there was traffic. Tardiness in others has no excuse.
I had an incurably-late teacher who was guaranteed to arrive five to fifteen minutes late to every class. Most of the students would saunter in five minutes after the scheduled start time, well ahead of the teacher. Some students came in even later, but if the teacher had already arrived she would ream them out. As the late-comer crept into the room, the teacher would look over at her and inquire into her health. If the student was indeed healthy, she’d wonder aloud why they weren’t competent enough to get up and have breakfast before class began. Occasionally, she’d refer to them during the remainder of the class, remarking on their health and wellbeing with a pointed stare.
One day that teacher was particularly late, and even those who’d expected to be harassed for their lateness had wandered in and out of the classroom a few times. We sat around munching our snacks and talking – about weddings. We toyed with the topic of place and dress, before settling into a debate on wedding head-gear. Amid the discussion of veils – birdcage, opaque, and non-opaque – dropped the suggest of a tiara. The idea fell in our midst like a nuclear warhead – a moment of total silence followed by a barrage of words from all sides. Into this conversation I suggested that the tiara is a nice look, uncluttered and sparkly, and easier to wear than a hefty veil. A classmate glanced my way, and stated that it was obvious I’d be in favor of a tiara. Surprised, I asked why she assumed that. “Of course you’d want a tiara,” she said glibly, “you want a scepter too.” You and me both, sister.