Written by Joe Janes
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Mrs. Gruber, 60s
(Lights up on Mrs. Gruber in her classroom with a school bell. She stands before the class. In the corner, we see an empty chair facing the wall. She rings the bell seven times.)
MRS. GRUBER (warbling)I’m your school bell ding-dong-ding,
Boys and girls all hear me ring,
Every time I ding-dong-ding
Come with me to play and sing,
Hello boys and girls. How are you today? Oh, that’s wonderful. We’re going to learn so many exciting things today. We’ll learn to blow bubbles, make turkeys with our hands, how to skip rope and how to keep others from taking things from you that don’t belong to them, like your dignity or lawn ornaments.
I will teach you many a thing,
Math, history and reading,
You can cut mom’s apron string,
Swim without a water wing,
How old are you? Do you know? Can you show me with your fingers how old you are? Oh, that’s very good. I’d show you how old I am with my fingers, but the arthritis makes it difficult to distinguish my fives from big, lumpy ones. Let’s just say Mrs. Gruber is older than you and has a lot to share about life. You know how some of you, and you know who you are, sometimes worry about wetting yourself? I know, I know. It happens. Does your mother make you wear rubber pants? Nothing to be ashamed about. You’ll grow out of it. And then, years later, you’ll grow back into it. Rubber pants and all.
I have lessons big and small,
Learn to walk while others crawl,
Soaring’s good, it’s bad to fall,
You’re fine with me, you’re on the ball,
That’s right, children. We’re here to learn. And to learn means doing what I say, when I say. Listen and learn. Do you know what I mean when I say to listen? Listening is very important. Open ears and a closed mouth will help get you through life.
Play by my rules, I’ll be fair,
You’ll live a life without care,
If you kick, shout, spit or swear,
You’ll sit out the year in that chair (points to chair in corner,