In the spring of 2010 I was a long-term substitute in the English department of the school where I am currently employed. I landed the job because the English department chair called me the moment she knew one of the English teachers might be leaving mid-year. She knew that I had subbed in the school in the past, that I had a Master’s degree in education, and that I was desperately looking for work. She even called me despite the fact I was not (at the time) certified to teach English.
Thus began my official teaching career. Ms. Tatum, the English department chair, offered me a plethora of advice and wisdom stemming from her 25 plus years of experience as an educator. She helped me survive that very rough semester and even gave me hope that I would be back the following school year as a full-fledged faculty member. The long-term sub job helped me build my reputation within the school, which did eventually lead to a full-time position in the social studies department the following school year. And that is where I met Mr. C. Our classrooms were right next to each other. We both taught economics. He was funny, kind, dorky, and compassionate and before I knew it, I had a big crush on him. You can read more about how we met here and here.
As you can imagine, Mrs. Tatum, beyond being an amazing and incredibly patient mentor, also played a pivotal role in my relationship with Mr. C. If it weren’t for her advocacy when I was given the long-term substitute job, I really don’t know if I would have ever gotten my foot in the door at my current school. It was the height of teacher layoffs and budget cuts, so teachers everywhere were losing their jobs. Since then, Mr. C and I have “adopted” Mrs. Tatum’s awesome 19-year-old son. We took him to DragonCon a few years ago, Mr. C plays card games and war games with him, and we pay him to watch our cats when we are out of town. We’ve enjoyed having Mrs. Tatum and her family in our lives, so when it came time to choose a reader for our wedding ceremony, her name was the first one that popped in my head—hands down, no contest!
I wrote an entry a while back about using a passage from Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince as a reading during our wedding ceremony. Well, we went ahead with it and everyone seemed to love it! Actually, one of our co-workers gifted us two Little Prince cups that once belonged to her mother. She told us that The Little Prince was her parent’s favorite book, so much so that her mother asked for a quote from the book to be engraved on her gravestone. Obviously hearing this passage read at our wedding had our coworker in tears as it already held so much personal significance. Stories like this just warmed our hearts and assured us that we made the right choice in our ceremony reading.
Mrs. Tatum did an incredible job reading. She has a clear and gentle voice (must be all those years of teaching English) that lends itself perfectly to such a task. And for the curious, here is the somewhat abridged passage from The Little Prince that was read at our wedding:
“Who are you?” asked the little prince, “You are very pretty to look at.”
“I am a fox,” the fox said.
“Come and play with me,” proposed the little prince. “I am so unhappy.”
“I cannot play with you,” the fox said. “I am not tamed.”
“Ah! Please excuse me,” said the little prince.
But, after some thought, he added: “What does that mean-’tame’?”
“You do not live here,” said the fox. “What is it that you are looking for?”
“I am looking for men,” said the little prince. “What does that mean-’tame’?
“It is an act too often neglected,” said the fox. “It means to establish ties.”
“’To establish ties’?”
“Just that,” said the fox. “To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world …”
“…If you tame me, it will be as if the sun came to shine on my life. I shall know the sound of a step that will be different from all the others. Other steps send me hurrying back underneath the ground. Yours will call me, like music, out of my burrow. And then look: you see the grain-fields down yonder? I do not eat bread. Wheat is of no use to me. The wheat fields have nothing to say to me. And that is sad. But you have hair that is the color of gold. Think how wonderful that will be when you have tamed me! The grain, which is also golden, will bring me back the thought of you. And I shall love to listen to the wind in the wheat…”
The fox gazed at the little prince, for a long time.
“Please-tame me!” he said.
I want to, very much,” the little prince replied. “But I have not much time. I have friends to discover, and a great many things to understand.”
“One only understands the things that one tames,” said the fox. “Men have no more time to understand anything. They buy things all ready made at the shops. But there is no shop anywhere where one can buy friendship, and so men have no friends any more. If you want a friend, tame me…”
“What must I do, to tame you?” asked the little prince.
“You must be very patient,” replied the fox. “First you will sit down at a little distance from me-like that-in the grass. I shall look at you out of the corner of my eye, and you will say nothing. Words are the source of misunderstandings. But you will sit a little closer to me, every day…”
The next day the little prince came back.
“It would have been better to come back at the same hour,” said the fox. “If, for example, you come at four o’clock in the afternoon, then at three o’clock I shall begin to be happy. I shall feel happier and happier as the hour advances. At four o’clock, I shall already be worrying and jumping about. I shall show you how happy I am! But if you come at just any time, I shall never know at what hour my heart is to be ready to greet you… One must observe the proper rites…
So the little prince tamed the fox. And when the hour of his departure drew near-
“Ah,” said the fox, “I shall cry.”
“It is your own fault,” said the little prince. “I never wished you any sort of harm; but you wanted me to tame you…”
“Yes, that is so,” said the fox.
“But now you are going to cry!” said the little prince.
“Yes, that is so,” said the fox.
“Then it has done you no good at all!”
“It has done me good,” said the fox, “because of the color of the wheat fields.”
“Goodbye,” he said.
“Goodbye,” said the fox. “And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
“What is essential is invisible to the eye,” the little prince repeated, so that he would be sure to remember.
Previously on the Camel Wedding Recaps: