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Long Story: Teachers with Funny Last Names

November 11, 2012
Electronic typewriter - the final stage in typ...

I didn’t know that I had the potential to be a good writer until this happened, but it’s a long story. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I was growing up, I had some teachers with unfortunate last names.  In junior high I had a math teacher named Mrs. Butte.  She insisted her name was pronounced “Bee-Yute” like the word “beauty,” but she wasn’t attractive at all.  If she had been a hot chick with cleavage, we might have pronounced her name correctly.  But she wasn’t, so we didn’t. 

There was also a social studies teacher named Mr. Dick (and his name was pronounced exactly like it was spelled).  Nobody made fun of Mr. Dick.  You would think a guy named Mr. Dick would stay out of teaching because of his last name, but nobody ever made fun of him. 

Mr. Dick was an old man who had cool tattoos on his arm (none of which were phallic in nature).  He had been teaching for decades, and everybody in town had grown up knowing Mr. Dick (or knowing about him), so nobody thought anything about his name anymore.  He was just an old man named Mr. Dick. 

There’s no way to prove this, but my junior high school was probably the only one that had a Mrs. Butte and a Mr. Dick. 

Then in high school I had an English teacher named Mr. Faggins.  Mr. Faggins announced on the first day of school that his name was to be pronounced as “Fay-guns.”  I knew my rules of pronunciation and how the double consonant causes the vowel in front of it to have the soft sound, but I was also polite enough not to argue with an adult about how to pronounce the adult’s last name.  I’ve always believed that a person should be able to choose how to pronounce his or her name. 

Of course, somebody would have to test Mr. Fay-guns. 

It was the second day of school, and there was this kid named Tucker who sat in the front middle desk of Mr. Fay-guns’ classroom.  I was in the third desk two rows closer to the door.  Tucker was an annoying kid who got beat up every once in a while (but he brought it on himself, so nobody felt sorry for him).  Mr. Fay-guns was going over classroom rules when Tucker asked a question. 

“Can I go to the bathroom, Mr. Faggins?” 

Mr. Fay-guns paused and said, “Not now.  And in the future please pronounce my name correctly.” 

Mr. Fay-guns continued lecturing about his rules, but a few minutes later Tucker interrupted him. 

“When can I go to the bathroom, Mr. Faggins?” 

“You will not go to the bathroom as long as you are mispronouncing my name,” Mr. Fay-guns said slowly. 

“I need to go to the bathroom, Faggins,” Tucker said. 

Here is what everybody who was there agrees about. Mr. Fay-guns thwacked Tucker upside the head, grabbed him, and physically threw him out of the classroom. 

Here’s where there is some disagreement.  I think Tucker left out the word “mister.”  Other students said that Tucker said “mister”,” but stressed the “Faggins” so much that it sounded like an insult.  Also, I think Mr. Fay-guns hit Tucker with a dictionary (not an Oxford, though that would have been really impressive, and maybe deadly).  Others insisted it was just a paperback book that had been lying around.  A couple students said Fay-guns open-palmed Tucker, but I heard a clear THWACK, and a slap doesn’t make a THWACK sound. 

I saw Mr. Fay-guns grab Tucker by his shirt collar and drag him out of the classroom.  Others said Mr. Fay-guns pulled Tucker by his arm, then armpit, and then threw him out.  A couple guys said Tucker ran out of the room crying like a baby.

Tucker forever maintained that he had done nothing wrong and that Mr. Fay-guns had attacked him for no reason. 

There is no cell phone footage of the event, so it shall forever remain a mystery what exactly happened. 

If something like this occurred today, things would be handled a bit differently.  Nowadays if a teacher hit a kid with a dictionary (I stand by my version of the story), the teacher would get fired and probably get sued.  Nothing like that happened to Mr. Fay-guns.  Even better, Tucker got switched to another English teacher.  That was great because we didn’t like Tucker anyway.  But I was a little scared of Mr. Fay-guns after that.  

I remember Mr. Fay-guns, not because of his last name (though that helps) and not because he beat up a kid in class (that helps too).  I remember Mr. Fay-guns because something happened in his class one day (nobody got beat up) that made me realize that I could be a pretty good writer. 

But it’s a long story. 

To be continued (I’ve always wanted to do that).

For more Long Story, read

Long Story (Part 2): Inspirational vs. Mediocre Teachers .


From → Long Story

  1. There was always a kid like Tucker. A similar situation happened in my high school with a teacher who pinned a student to the wall by his shirt. No one felt bad for the kid because he was a shithead and everyone knew it. Unfortunately, the teacher had to leave the school. We were young enough for teachers to have consequences for this type of thing, but not yet young enough to have cell phone footage that lasted more than a few seconds. But if we did, at least everyone would have saw what kind of dick that kid was.

    • Yeah, there’s always a kid like Tucker. I always thought Tucker didn’t have any business making fun of somebody else’s name. After all, his name rhymes with f…

  2. I’ve never had a teacher with a funny sounding name, but I have seen teachers physically throw students out of class. My dad contends he saw a teacher throw a student through a wall, although I’m guessing it was only plaster or something.

    • That was the only time I saw a teacher get physical with a kid,other than breaking up a fight. I think there were a few teachers that liked breaking up fights because when they did, some kid always ended up going up into the air (and maybe into a locker). Throwing a kid through a wall? There’s not much deniability if a teacher puts a kid through a wall. Saying “He tripped” probably wouldn’t work.

  3. Wheh I was a (substitute) teacher, not a single kid (and even most teachers) were able to pronounce it. That is the best way to avoid mockery of your name: you can’t make fun of someone’s name if you can’t pronounce it.

    • Pronounce “it” meaning pronounce my last name. See, I myself couldn’t even pronounce my last name.

      • Did you go by “Mister X”? “Mister X” is a cool name for a substitute teacher. In fact, I think X is probably the coolest letter in the alphabet and would make the coolest last name out of all the letters in the alphabet.

        • Yes, Mr. X would have been cool. But since my last name started with another, not as cool letter, I had to use that. Since it was not a totally uncool letter, like Mr. P., for example, I was ok with that.

  4. I definitely enjoyed this and I loved the way you distinguished between Fay-guns and Faggins in the telling. It is an honor and privilege to visit your site. Peace be with you.

    • Thank you! I really appreciate your comments. I think I accidentally spelled his name like that a couple times when I turned in assignments in his class.

  5. This totally cracked me up. My partner has a hyphenated last name, the first beginning with a “B” and the second beginning with an “S” so he OWNS the name Mr. B-S. Instead of letting it have power over him, he’s accepted it. I affectionately refer to him as such 🙂

  6. I had a teacher named Mr Muderspach (pronounced “Moo-dur-sp-ahk.) He was an okay teacher but some kids made fun of him anyway because well stupid kids do that anyway when teachers enforce rules. We had a substitute teacher whose name escapes me, but we all called her “Mrs Beehive” behind her back. (Jr. High kids are a pain in the you know what). Her hair was up so high it looked like she was a fan of Marge Simpson’s hair stylist.

  7. I loved this. People should really think about their names before deciding what line of work they will go into. Because names are important.

    I work in healthcare and see the most remarkable doctors’ names. Dr. Ricketts who deals with childhood disease, the noted brain surgeon, Dr. Head, the international expert on bird flu, Dr. Purdue, and the very best of all, the AIDs specialist, Dr. deKock.

    I personally once had a surgeon named Herbert Hoover. A friend of mine told me to be very wary if he predicted a rapid recovery.

    • Haha! I probably wouldn’t have believed you (about Dr. Rickets and Herbert Hoover) except people don’t believe me when I tell them about Mrs. Butte and Mr. Dick, so I know these things can happen. How did Dr. DeKock pronounce his name? Dr. DeCoke probably wouldn’t sound much better.

  8. My grandparents had a neighbour called Mrs. Bucket, who insisted that her name was to be pronounced Mrs. Boukay (like the flower gift…). Apparently, she was a secret French person (or perhaps just a spy for the Soviets).

  9. John permalink

    I am a retired teacher. In one class I had a Hong, Kong, Pong, Song, Tong and Wong. The final 4 came one after the other on the roll. Every roll call ended with a chuckle.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. The Back-to-School Special!! | Dysfunctional Literacy
  2. Long Story: The Power of Mediocre Teachers | Dysfunctional Literacy

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