Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Of the many people who have positively impacted my life, I'd have to say that Mr. Fowler tops the list. He was my high school science teacher.

Now, don't think he was one of those warm, fuzzy types. He wasn't. His teaching style could best be described as drill instructor.
He was stern, exacting, and commanded/demanded your full attention.
He was about 6'3, dark, tousled hair, dark eyes, and his sense of humor was very dry, but very witty.

I didn't like him at first.

He wouldn't stand for any kind of fuckery in his classroom. He made that clear from day one. He wasn't one of those teachers who would give you some slack, then tighten it up. He was all business.

A few weeks into the semester, I actually started to like him. He had such a commanding presence. He was tough, but fair. He was excellent at sizing people up, judging their strenghs, and building on them. That was something I not only respected, but admired.

Me and my best friend, Bird, used to joke about him. We both had semi-crushes on him. In our conversations to each other, we'd call him Charles, which was his first name. Or sometimes, Chuck.

Anyway, the semester progressed, and one of the things we were learning was the balancing of chemical equations. Mr. Fowler would put a chemical equation on the chalkboard, half finished, and we'd have to go up and balance it out.
I loved this part of class, because balancing out the chemicals so that everything equalled out, just made sense to me. It intrigued me, and I looked forward to puzzling it out on his chalkboard.

On this particular day, Mr. Fowler had put an equation on the board, and asked who wanted to try it first. No one said anything, so he says, "Okay, Sal, you're up."
I got up from my desk, walked to the board, and looked at the equation. Checked it. And, it looked like it was already balanced to me.
I turned to him, said "Mr. Fowler, it looks like it's already balanced."
He turned to the rest of the class, and asked if anyone else wanted to fix the equation.
I felt like I'd let him down. That was a worse feeling than being wrong.

As I walked back to my seat, one of the boys in class went up to the equation, started erasing this, adding that, and finally, told Mr. Fowler it was balanced.

Mr. Fowler turned to face the class. He said "How many of you agree with David's answer?"
Every hand except mine (and Bird's) was raised.
Mr. Fowler said "You're wrong. Sal was right. It was already balanced. If it's not broke, don't fix it."

The one thing he taught me, that sticks with me to this day, is to believe in myself. In my abilities. To not falter.

Sometimes he would enroll me in science contests. Not the way most teachers would do it. Most would come to me, say "you should do this."
Not Mr. Fowler.
He would say "Sal, I signed you up for this. Be there."
And I was. Because making him proud was important to me. He was one of the first people to completely believe in what I could do, in what I was capable of. And I trusted him.


I had missed some days in class after Christmas vacation, so I had to do some makeup work in Mr. Fowler's class. Random, easy shit. Lighting a Bunsen burner, completing a chemical reaction, arranging beakers.
I went into his classroom after my lunch break, and as I came in, he was sitting at his desk.
He motioned to one of the work stations, and told me to get everything set up.
I got to work, set up my work station, complete with goggles and gloves. He was a stickler for things like that.

After everything was set up, I looked around for him, but he wasn't in his office. I stood at my work station, entertaining myself with the beakers.
At this particular time, I was going through a phase where I put those little sticky eyes on everything.
I even put a couple on the beakers I was using, so naturally, I decided to 'animate' them, and make them have a little discussion. While I was waiting.

[gruff Mr. Fowler voice while shaking googly-eyed beaker]
Sally McFly, today you're going to create a flux capacitor out of beakers, tubing, and this burner. We've got to fix the DeLorean. Or you fail.

[high pitched version of my own voice]
Oh, Charles, fix the DeLorean? I don't even know how to change a tire. Can't we just blow some shit up?

As I finished up with this dialog, I heard laughter behind me.

Immediately, I blushed. I couldn't even make myself turn around.

Mr. Fowler walked over to me, picked up one of the beakers and deadpanned "We're not going to blow anything up today, McFly."


mysterg said...

So cute! You really are adorable Sal!

Gwen said...

I want to hang out with you, McFly.

Sally-Sal said...

I was just happy not to go to detention! And making him laugh made my day.

I'll be around to pick you up in the DeLorean.

One Sassy Girl said...

Aw shucks, Mr Fowler, now I love you, too. I ditched chem class so often I lost credit and had to do thirty detentions to make up for it. I learned nothing of chemistry until well into college when I was like "what's with all these beakers?"

Sally-Sal said...

One Sassy Girl:
Thirty detentions? You are detention queen!
Mr. Fowler was awesome. He had all kinds of interesting ways to teach us stuff.

erin said...

I had a teacher like that. One that I definitely still miss. I went back to the high school and visited him a couple times to introduce him to my oldest daughter and hang out. But then I felt silly going back to high school and haven't talked to him in a very long time. Bla Bla Bla.

sAm said...

"He wouldn't stand for any kind of fuckery in his classroom." it! He sounds like a great teacher - I had one like that...taught American History. Now I teach American History - so much of my teaching comes from his influence. But I put up with all kinds of fuckery. Sometimes I start it. Being an adult "in charge" is fun.

Tennyson ee Hemingway said...

Man I wish I had a teacher like that. Lady Hem always told me about her English teacher that she still sometimes sees to this day, and how he inspired her so much in class. All the teachers in my school were fuckheads.

Mighty Hunter said...

Come ON! Any science teacher worth his salt would allow you to blow shit up under his close supervision. He's a quack. A charlatan.

Soda and Candy said...

And then you pashed him, right? Right???

He sounds cool. I wish I'd had a teacher I could respect and have a crush on at the same time!

NWO said...

THAT is a feel-good story! I love it!

Proud Maisie said...

Great, now I think I have a crush on him too.

ladytruth said...

Awesome teacher. Have you ever thought of going back and see what he's like now or if he's still at school or something random like that?

Judearoo said...


I had a science teacher like that too! Well, ok, he wasnt 6'3" and nowhere near as yummy sounding as yours.
Mine was about 5'7", wonderfully scruffy, overweight and extremely eccentric. He was firm but kind, savagely intelligent and so so passionate about science. You know those small boys who go through a stage of trying to blow things up and building all sorts of dodgy rockets etc? Him all over. Had a huge personality, firey temper and was a gifted teacher. I adored him and still keep in touch.

Amazing the influence people like this have on your life, eh?

Gorgeous post, girlie!

Sally-Sal said...

I bet you made his day, though.

I bet you're one of those kickass teachers.

Aw, that's a shame! I'll share my Mr. Fowler memories with you :o)

Mighty Hunter:
Ha! He was a pretty great guy. And there were a, accidents in the science lab. Explosions.

Soda and Candy:
He probably even knew about my crush. But he was one of those really moral guys, and never would've acted on it. Which made him even sexier.

He was an amazing teacher. One of a kind :o)

Proud Maisie:
He was very sexy. In a very commanding way. Sigh

He actually doesn't teach anymore. I would like to find him, though. Just to thank him.

Even if he had been short, chubby, and all that, I would've still found him attractive.
I tend to be attracted to men who are smart, capable, and sure of themselves. Very hot.

otherworldlyone said...

That was a fantastic story...and you told it so well! The ending was perfection.

'Cuz I Felt Like It! said...

I had a teacher very similar to your Mr. Fowler. I believe that if it weren't for that man pushing me and pushing me, I'd never graduated high school. He was such a dick, but lookin' back now, I can see that despite the shaved head, weird clothes and shaved head, he saw potential in me that not a lot of others did.

Girl Interrupted said...

A great story beautifully told, Sal ... I liked most of my teachers but never felt particularly inspired by any of them, which after reading this makes me feel a little regretful.

Ms. Case said...

I would have like Mr. Fowler. However I like more the fact that I learned the word 'fuckery' from this post. Thank you and good day!

The Dark Tower said...

This was a really funny story.

Reminds me of my first Science teacher and mentor Walt Schmidt. He taught me everything I had to know about operating, building and repairing a computer. If it weren't for that guy I would have never worked at Best Buy...Maybe thats a bad thing?

Anyway! I recently spoke to him before he died (At least I think hes dead) and I remembered him telling me he never had sex from doing drugs when he was younger.

Always turned me away from even the psychotropics.

I was supposed to see him in Arizona a few months ago. But his number was disconnected like i said I think hes dead. :(

Sally-Sal said...

Anyone who calls me McFly automatically wins me over ;)

'Cuz i felt like it:
I love that you mentioned the shaved head twice! :o)

Girl Interrupted:
I was really lucky to have a teacher like him. He was so witty, so stern, and very easy on the eyes.

Ms. Case:
I'm glad I could bring some fuckery into your life ;)

The Dark Tower:
I'm sorry to hear about your teacher. He definitely sounds like a great mentor, and I'm glad that your paths crossed. He seems to have positively impacted your life :o)

One Sassy Girl said...

BTW, my 30 detentions actually took me from being a mild pot smoker and school skipper to being "in" with kids who did much harder stuff. The downside is high school is hard to remember. The upside is I was bored with drugs by college. So overall, I give detentions an A+!

Shaunak said...

Oh this brings back memories. I'd got detention for sketching out my professor's face on hitler's body.

Then he put me in for a caricature contest :P

School rocked!

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