The obvious choice, if I were to be true to myself (God, how I despise that term, all new-agey and American Idolíd to death) and get as far from grief and despair as possible would be to prattle on about upcoming jaunts, and shoes, and boys.
Problem is, probably a couple of hours before or after, or possibly during the time I was writing my last entry, Mr. Hunt had a massive heart attack and died.
He was 71, and the last time I saw him was at my friend Adamís wedding, two years ago. He remembered me, which pleased me to no end, and it was lovely to see him again, because he had been my favorite teacher, and a thoroughly splendid person to know.
The last time I saw him before that was 12 years prior, at my high school commencement when he presented me with the Theatre Ontario Award. I stood on the stage in a packed auditorium, listened to my favorite teacher tell the audience that I had taken part in 14 productions throughout my high school career and I quietly hoped my mother, sitting in the audience, would take that as an acceptable excuse for the crap grades Iíd always brought home. There were three theatre prizes awarded every year and Mr. Hunt presented me with the only one that had no money attached to it, but I didnít mind so much. It was 1993; I wore an AIDS ribbon and pretended that it was my first Oscar. As he shook my hand, I grinned and whispered something about thanking the little people. His eyes twinkled and he chuckled at my lame, lame joke.
He was actually Reverend Hunt, a minister in the Anglican church, but to us he was Mr. Hunt, or just Sir. The first time I saw him, I was 14-years old, and he was wearing a turtleneck and Phantom of the Opera sweatshirt. When I recounted that to long-lost familiar faces at the funeral home the other night, they all chuckled and nodded at the memory. Other teachers wore ties, and he had a giant white Phantom mask emblazoned on his chest. He quietly taught English and Dramatic Arts, and I took all three of his drama classes. Adam said that the only time he saw him get angry was when Mr. Hunt made him rewrite his Death of a Salesman essay for the third time. And then we all agreed that at least he, unlike other teachers, let him rewrite it.
Sir taught me how to position myself properly in front of an audience, and why it was important to breathe from my diaphragm. It was from him that I learned to never take a step on stage or utter one single syllable unless I knew why it had to be done. He was always one for helping you find your motivation, on and off stage. He taught me that I could Ďdo funny,í which Iíd never considered about myself before. It was in his class when the idea came upon me that life would be fabulous if we all had a Greek chorus. He gave me Aís, which were, admittedly, pretty low on the ground in those days, so I was always especially thrilled to get one. He let me experiment with Antigone and Joan of Arc, and told me once that I had stage presence. I was seventeen; the only thing that could have made me happier would have been finding out that Chris from Modern Western Civ class liked me.
I wonít lie, or insult his memory with grand sweeping gestures and days of melancholy. We didnít keep in touch, Mr. Hunt and I. Aside from a fond meander or two down memory lane in the last 14 years, Iíve thought of him fondly, but rarely. However, he instructed me in the subject I loved most of all, and made me feel good about myself. Throughout the years of regulation-level teenage angst, when the world and my hormones were at odds with each other, I always felt safe and happy in his classroom and on his stage. He was a sweet and gentle man, and a lovely part of my adolescence, and now heís gone.
Thanks, Mr. Hunt. Wherever you are, I hope you can hear our applause.
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