Who is Ms. Curtis?
In my novella What Happened To David, Mary talks about wanting to be like Ms. Curtis when she gets her act together. Ms. Curtis is a real person. I worked with her and became close friends with her. I call her Ms. Curtis in my writings to preserve her privacy. Any student who had us during the years we worked in West Hollywood would, of course, know who she is.
How did I come up with the name Ms. Curtis?
It was Thanksgiving 2001. I was 51 years old and Ms Thing was 49. We had worked together since 1993. As teachers at West Hollywood Opportunity Center (later to become WHCDS), we shared a bungalow, Rooms 2 & 3 (Language Arts and Math). She had come back to Chicago with me to celebrate the great American pig-out with my family. There were no Quakers to hang or witches to burn so we settled for turkey. Ironically, it was the last dinner I had with my whole family but that’s a story for another time.
The surround sound
While waiting for the giant bird to roast, my brother Sammy wanted to show off his new surround sound stereo he had hooked up to his DVD player. He asked Michael and I what we wanted to watch (and hopefully enjoy with the surround sound). We said, “What have you got?” Sammy read through his pile of DVDs. “Lincoln Lawyer” “Roots” “Sherlock Holmes” and on and on through the collection but when he said, “True Lies” Michael and I both growled and huskily whispered, “Jamie Lee Curtis”.
To which my sister-in law cattily opined, “Hrummph. Jamie Lee Curtis. She looks like some old school teacher!”
To which Sammy replied, “Well maybe if I had Jamie Lee Curtis for a teacher I would have ditched less, and learned more!”