Physically awkward, socially uncomfortable, mechanically rigid, and not balding, but conclusively balded, having lost it and pointing it out with a toupee. For high school students, that’s blood in the water. We’d regularly tease him; our pre-calculus class in particular was famed for its brazenness (and be sure we reveled in that notoriety). But because he wasn’t the type of teacher — or the type of man — who knew how to push back, he’d end up all but asking for more. I mean, he was a math teacher wearing a toupee. Did he expect differently?
One day, during passing time between classes, someone opened the door to our room and tossed a toupee into the room. While he was lecturing. I still remember how quickly everything stopped, as we watched the toupee fall to the floor, rather like a leaf, and our teacher’s voice first stumbled and then seemed to be sucked out of existence, leaving behind an unbelievable silence so perfect we could not imagine it hadn’t endured forever. If the room itself could be embarrassed, then the air was red in the face.