A writing exercise was well underway when I showed up late, again, for my third grade
Russian language class. The teacher, a large woman with the crudely chiseled body of a socialist realist public sculpture, looked happy to see the little fucker who often had more important things to do than to come to her class on time. Had I missed the class, I could have pleaded illness or family business and avoid the failing grade, which now I would surely get because there wasn’t enough time left for me to do the required work.
Having glanced at the infantile topic written on the blackboard, I concluded that my teacher’s happiness was premature. As an 8-year old who read books even during meals, and whose then current favorites included Gogol, Chekhov, and Oscar Wilde (the last in translation), I could handle this kind of writing with a degree of aplomb, not to mention machine-like efficiency.