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The Taming of Mr. Musil
by Molly Schmitthenner Lesnick

As freshmen, we were all required to take LATIN with Mr Musil. Being advanced before his time, Mr. Musil divided us all into groups the first day: the high achievers, the medium students, and myself and one other student. Said student and I had to sit one on either side of Mr Musil's desk, our profiles facing the class; very humiliating, but I got used to it.

Mr. Musil really was an excellent teacher, and a perfectionist, but he had a very short fuse and was intolerant of those who were not prepared. Phrases such as "thundering dunder blocks!" and the even more formidable "shockrfif cholera!" used to pour from his lips and he would stamp the floor at the same time.

One morning, Lowey Thoms was at the board (Lowey was in the high achievers' group), writing down some difficult declensions. She was nearing the end of the subjunctive case or something equally difficult, when Mr. Musil went into action. "No, No, you thundering idiot," he burst out. "Can't you see this is wrong, wrong!" and he stamped his foot.

Lowey, who was beginning to cry, put down her chalk, walked to the door, opened it and went out. She did not return. The class sat in stunned silence. Inside my head I was yelling "YES, Lowey!"

Finally Mr. Musil cleared his throat, explained the mistake and went on teaching in a somewhat subdued manner. The period ended.

The next day class resumed as usual. Lowey was in her normal seat. I and my fellow sufferer continued in our normal seats by the sides of Mr. Musil's desk. But from that fateful day on, Mr. Musil seemed calmer. I don't recall him yelling out at anyone again. In fact, two years later, when I took French II, Mr. Musil's demeanor was decidedly pleasant, though he was still a rigorous instructor. Lowey, single handedly, tamed Mr. Musil.