CALL ME MARY

CALL ME MARY . . .She says to each new student, for Mary is a friendly and super successful high school teacher.

I’m sorry if I disillusioned you, dear friends. My novel, CALL ME MARY, isn’t as sexy as you’ve been led to believe by the fact she was addicted to sex. I think you’ll find the most challenging chapters expose Mary’s theories on education.

Sure, there’s a lot of sex in her life, but not the good kind. She needed sex the way others need cocaine. One ejaculation and she’d go to sleep. However, it’s a good story when you can care about a woman raised in a family more screwed up than she was ever screwed down.

Mary was the youngest of six children. Her father was a religious homosexual who kept having children to prove otherwise. He told Mary he loved her for the first time as he was dying. He said he couldn’t admit it while her mother still lived. The two oldest brothers were away fighting World War II when Mary was a child. One younger brother was silently adorable, and the youngest brother was gay. Both her older sister and mother chastised her whenever she spoke. Her gay brother, Allen, befriended her even as he could not tell her why their parents took him to doctors, ministers, psychiatrists, or gurus every day.

You get to see Mary’s need to hide her addicted life, sometimes successfully, throughout this memoir she wrote for all addicts when she turned eighty. It begins in 1937 when, as a first grader, she invented sex with her playmate and got caught by her furious mother. It ends with her understanding that sex alone cannot fulfill us. It can do the opposite. Or, it can be the frosting on a rich cake of love.

Have you known anyone addicted to sex with a variety of partners for the sake of sex alone, sex without eye contact? Or have you experienced it and left feeling empty? When I was in high school, I once experienced the faceless kind because I needed to please. I didn’t feel shame because I lacked her evangelical background.  Still, I felt empty, not full like Mary.

When I began writing fiction and eavesdropping on strangers’ conversations, I needed to give my main characters the deep experiences that I knew personally, both Yin and Yang.  Therefore, I knew when Mary began teaching high school that she would never seduce a student. Yet, she had a reputation that could hurt her career.

Consider reputation, your own. What do you think it is? I don’t know what mine is now, but I did in high school. I lived in a small town in Massachusetts. Other kids thought I was rich because my father retired at age forty-five.  He had what was then called a “nervous breakdown.” I felt a little scared and curious as I watched him survive it through seven years of extensive study.

This reputation I questioned, but the next infuriated me. The owner of the restaurant where we hung out after school told everyone that I was having an affair with the high school janitor. That made me so angry I hung out beside each of the two bars in town until closing time so the Chief of Police could add to my bad reputation. My parents were traveling, and our housekeeper was old and asleep. It was a strange reaction to a false reputation. That’s why I create characters with strange habits.

As to how I’ve misled you, this novel is full of educational theories that may disagree with yours or plain bore you. If so, argue with her or skip those chapters. Mary believed in showing her students how to teach instead of silently learn, because a teacher must learn the subject well, and through the process of reading and asking pertinent questions, masters the material.  She knew that when thirty students ran down the hall to enter her classroom, there were thirty halls and thirty classrooms. No two students, even twins, perceive surroundings nor learn the same way.

  1. Confession: this novel was inspired by a conversation I overheard on the train. One woman confessed her sexual addiction to another woman who remained silent most of the trip. More than that, this novel, without the addiction, is my autobiography. I’m sure my friends and family will attest to that.

I eagerly await comment or arguments from educators when they finish reading, as well as from any one of you. evycole@inbox.com

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