Mr. Burmenthal

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate November 2001

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Mr. Burmenthal A stroll through the old campus and a hot cup of tea was all it took to bring back an unforgettable incident in my early youth. While playing and watching telivision took up most of my time, going to school was a priority not only to me but to all my friends.

Nevertheless, school was where many interesting episodes of my childhood occurred. I remember that aside from playing ball at recess, making fun of other students, and throwing wet paper towels onto the ceilings in the bathrooms, our most enjoyable form of amusement was talking back to the teacher.

This unfortunate man by the name of Mr.Burmenthal was our fifth grade teacher for the whole year. Mr.Burmenthal was tall, old, dull, and always had a cup of tea.

Having no respect for him whatsoever, my friends and I would chatter along in class not paying attention to one word he was saying.

But one day while we were deep in discussion among our group of friends, Mr. Burmenthal confronted us. "Boys!" he shouted. "Quiet down, the rest of the class is trying to learn." He stood there with a wrinkled forehead, obviously annoyed at us.

"Why don't you quiet down!?" yelled my friend.

"Yeah, go drink your tea or something," I added.

Shaking his head in dissapointment, Mr.Burmenthal went back to teaching the class, paying no attention to what we were doing anymore.

The next day in class, one of my friends came up with a game to play, trying to speed up the pace of the seemingly never-ending day. The game was that whoever could make Mr.Burmenthal literally blow up in anger and frustration would be treated to one week of McDonalds by everyone else. This was an irresistable offer to many of us, including myself. We all agreed.

"Mr.Burmenthal, you look quite ugly today!" "Mr.Burmenthal, why don't you get plastic surgery!?" "Mr.Burmenthal, you smell like crap!" Mr.Burmenthal did not say a word and continued to do whatever he was doing. Finally, waiting my turn, I said, "Mr.Burmenthal, you can't even teach, you useless old man!" By now, the whole class was laughing; I guess I was the champion. But,ironically, I did not feel like one. Slowly Mr.Burmenthal put his cup of hot tea down and got up from his squeaky old chair. He began walking towards me with a beatened look on his face, looking like a man who had just lost a loved one. Suddenly, an icy cold feeling came over me. I did not expect my insult to impact the man so much. I did not know what he was going to do, I did not know what to say, and I did not know what to do. Slowly he approached my desk and with a quivering voice said, "You know what Michael? You have a very sharp tongue. You might not know it but sometimes it can hurt. Nobody's perfect." He then walked out the door and did not come back for the rest of the day. We were sent a substitute.

My victory that day felt more like a defeat. Those words he said had bore its way through my mind and embedded there for the rest of my life. Class was never the same afterwards. I had a feeling that there was a great barrier between me and Mr.Burmenthal.

I could never look into his eyes for too long without turning away in shame. From then on, I never uttered a single word in class and in many other classes to come. Well, fifth grade slowly went by and with it Mr.Burmenthal, for he retired later that year. I never did apoligize to him. I guess I could never quite gather up enough courage to do so.

Mr.Burmenthal's class brought me to see my inner self and realize who I really was. I realized that everone makes mistakes and also discovered that the only reason why I acted like a jerk was to impress my friends. Unfortunately, I did not impress anyone but make a fool of myself. Since fifth grade, I have tried to act more mature in my classes and give the much needed respect to my teachers. Thank you Mr.Burmenthal.