When I was a sophomore in high school I had this English teacher named Mr. Yanzek. Yanz was, well, he was a legend. He’d been barking at kids since well before my brother was in his class and as far as I know, he’s still barking at them. He was gruff and scary and one of the best damn teachers I had.
His vocabulary tests were legendary. They took the entire 42-minute class to complete and they had kids so wound up on a Friday morning that w/o asking you knew immediately who was in his classes–all the kids with the panicked faces and the stacks of index cards. Most of those same kids were seen a year later lugging those index cards around during SAT prep–it was the most comprehensive vocab prep you could get.
Yanz was an opinionated guy as well. Whether he loved something or hated it or thought it was the most asinine concept, he let you know. One thing he had a strong aversion to was Easter Egg Trees.
You know, these things:
He also shared an equal hatred for the Easter shrub:
But I can’t say I blame him for that one.
Anyway, Yanz told us that if he found out that ANY of us had an Easter tree in our front yards (or back yards for that matter) that it would be 100 pts.off our next vocabulary quiz. Given that the quizzes were worth 100 pts. we were all a little scared. I mean, we mostly figured he was kidding but you could never tell with him so we were right to have The Fear.
That is, most of us had The Fear. I apparently had The Death Wish.
I decided that I would decorate the tree in the courtyard outside of his classroom. Luckily for me, it was the shared courtyard of my 1st period yearbook class. My yearbook teacher Mr. Geibel, always up for a good joke–and photo op–told me that as long as I cleaned the tree up afterward, I could decorate it. Armed with plastic eggs and string, Geibel broke us into the courtyard (I had grabbed a non-Yanz accomplice to help me decorate).
First period was great–nice and empty. There was a Spanish class next to Geibel’s and a history class next to Yanzek’s currently empty classroom. We set to work decorating the tree–we even hung one of those stupid paper bunny cutouts, the kind used to decorate elementary school classrooms, on it. It was a thing of beauty.
The best part was that Yanzek’s kids in the Spanish/history classes watching us KNEW what we were doing. They’d all rec’d the same threat: Easter Tree = 100 pts. off.
Moments before the bell rang we gathered our supplies and went back to the yearbook room. We admired our handiwork and then set out for our next classes. On my way to history (yeah, I stuck to one courtyard for the first 3 classes of the day) everyone I passed was handing out congratulations on a prank well played.
OMG Lauren, that was totally awesome!
Yeah? Let me know what he says in class, would ya?
I was too excited during history to pay much attention and when the bell rang I bolted down the hall to Yanzek’s room. I was the first one there and Yanz was talking with a kid from the first class–one our grade’s finer male specimens and a kid I was okay with impressing.
“Hey Mr. Yanzek”, I said casually strolling to my seat.
“LAUREN! DID YOU DO THAT?!” He boomed, pointing out the window.
“Mr. Yanzek!” I said, feigning innocence as best I could–which wasn’t very well at all. “Do I look like the type of person to do something like that?”
“YOU LOOK EXACTLY LIKE THE KIND OF PERSON WHO WOULD DO SOMETHING LIKE THAT!”
After that more and more kids started filtering in and I slipped into my seat. Some knew what I’d done already–they’d heard it was me or they’d at least heard that it happened. And some had no clue about the newly decorated Easter tree in the courtyard.
Yanzek never busted me. Of course he knew it was me–I have the worst poker face ever–but for as much as he hated the concept of the Easter Tree, he could appreciate a good prank.
Was it the stuff of legends? Probably not. It’s doubtful that kids beyond those freshman right behind us even knew about it (I think they tried to knock the prank off the following year but you can’t mess with perfection).
But was it awesome?
Oh yeah. It was totally awesome.