Michael (in una voce buffa*): Hello, is Jean Kendall there?
Old Man (hoarse and coughing): Hold on a minute I'll get her.
David and I started laughing at the brilliance of the practical joke. A LOT of time passes as we wait for her to pick up the telephone.
Miss Kendall: Hello
David and I passed the phone back and forth spewing inanities of a sort that 5th grade boys might do in una voce buffa. Finally...
Miss Kendall: Is this Michael Teger and David Goldwyn? What are you boys doing calling me like this on a Friday night? I am going to hang up now but we WILL discuss this on Monday.
Miss Kendall hung up the phone and David and I looked at each other, stunned. We shook in our boots all weekend long but didn't tell a soul of our ordeal. We rightfully assumed that our lives would be over on Monday and wanted to cherish the last remaining time before our descent into a chasm.
On Monday, Miss Kendall said nothing to either of us all day long. When school ended and the classroom was dismissed to line up in the hallway, she asked us to stay a moment. Miss Kendall very nicely but firmly explained to us that what we had done was wrong in many ways, but particularly because she lived with her father and he had just had open-heart surgery. After he had picked up the phone, her father had walked up the stairs to tell Jean that she had a phone call. He was out of breath and Miss Kendall had to sit him down and wait until he was breathing easier. Only then did she come down to pick up the phone and find we were playing games.
Miss Kendall explained to us that any number of things might have happened because of our prank: her father could have fallen on the stairs or possibly exerted himself back into the hospital. She told us that people shouldn't do things like that to each other. Miss Kendall then added the pièce de résistance: she would not tell our parents. In return, she hoped we would remember that every action has a reaction and that we should think before we act. She walked us to the end of the line in the hallway and then walked with the line outside to the buses. David and I got on our neighborhood's bus and I watched Miss Kendall as we accelerated out of the parking lot. Miss Kendall never mentioned the incident again.
David Goldwyn moved away that summer, I have yet to dial another phony phone call, and this is the first time that anyone outside of the three participants knows of this tale. Miss Kendall was a wonderful teacher and, to this day, I think of her words when I need to take action.
Thank you, Miss Kendall.
* in a funny voice