Every teacher has stories. This is one of mine.
In 1977 Tiffany was in eighth grade. She was slender, blond, tan and as gorgeous as a model—and she knew it. She looked much older than her thirteen years, and she cultivated the illusion. All the girls wanted her to be their friend. She gave out small doses of her attention to keep them yearning for more.
I was a teacher at the middle school in Florida, and a bevy of girls came to me at the start of the year to plead with me to sponsor their pep club. For those who don’t know—and I was one of you at the time—the pep club is comprised of all the cheerleader wannabes who didn’t make the squad. Apparently they attended each game and cheered for the team from the bleachers. My lack of understanding on this subject should tell you my level of interest in being their sponsor.
Every club has to have a teacher sponsor. The pep club’s previous sponsor had bowed out. They were begging me to please just sign the paper; I didn’t have to attend any of the games. They wore me down and I reluctantly agreed. I would live to regret that decision.
The girls met in my classroom and planned their fundraisers—bake sales, car washes, etc.—and organized rides to the games. I maintained order and kept the books, showing up at the fundraising events to oversee everything. Honestly, it wasn’t too bad, except for watching those sweet little girls fawning over Tiffany, who was elected president. She ruled with a cold, regal hand. I did not flatter, so Tiffany had little use for me.
At year’s end the club had enough money to give the school a substantial gift and still organize a trip to Disney World. We had enough money to rent the bus and driver and pay for each girl and chaperone’s entry to River Country and the Magic Kingdom and have a cash dinner allowance. I’ll give them credit: they worked hard for this trip.
After spending the day at River Country, we packed onto the bus and drove over to the Magic Kingdom. I reviewed the rules: each girl would have one buddy, and they were never to be alone. They would stay inside the park, have dinner on their own, and all would meet up at the bus at 10:00 p.m. to drive back home. Everyone offloaded and I joined my own friend and fellow chaperone, Lynn, to hit the rides.
We’d been there about two hours when, in the middle of a street in Adventureland, a man in a polyester suit with an oval nametag asked me if I was Birdie Brown. Uh-oh. I affirmed that I was.
“Would you follow me, please.”
With a brief explanation that I was "needed," he turned and Lynn and I followed. We crossed the bridge onto Main Street USA and passed the quaint shops and restaurants. We followed him into a flower-filled alley where we found a pleasant little door. The man asked Lynn to wait for me there. She and I exchanged glances and I turned to follow the man.
The door opened to a flight of stairs that led us to a large room that overlooked Main Street. The room was filled with monitors displaying the views from dozens of security cameras all over the Magic Kingdom. (Apparently, that’s how they found me.) This was the security department for the Magic Kingdom. Sitting at one of the desks was Tiffany, holding a stuffed Dumbo and looking at me like a deer in the headlights.