Maxed Out 

Liberal spending: world class and school class

Page 2 of 3

But chewing gum in class pushed her button. She made a production of forcing the miscreant who transgressed this rule to walk from his – rarely her – desk to the trashcan in the class’ front corner, spit his gum into it and take the long walk back to his desk in infamy. At which point she’d ladle out her favourite punishment, a page, or two, of dictionary.

This particular torture involved copying a page of dictionary. Every word, every punctuation mark, every everything. She was smart enough to let the evildoer pick the page and most of us read enough of the dictionary to discover which pages were light, which was, I suspect, her agenda. By the end of the fourth grade, my dictionary debt to Mrs. Johnston ran into double digits. She passed me anyway.

The day was one of those early lessons in relativity. It took forever for afternoon recess to roll around. When we came in, thirty sweaty kids took their seats. One was chewing gum.

"Mr. Maxwell. Are you chewing gum?" Ooh baby, the moment I’d been waiting for.

"Yes," said in a diminutive voice. Mrs. Johnston was nothing if not consistent. I knew what was coming next.

"Did you bring some for everyone?" Foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, eh Ralph.

The first twinge of fear struck. This could put her over the edge. I lifted my desktop, grabbed a double handful of bubblegum and let the lid fall of its own weight. "Well whaddya know. I did."

"Pass it out then," she said, not missing a beat.

The moment was complete. Not so much an act of defiance, I’d pulled off a wily coup of mythological proportions. The class contentedly chewed gum the rest of the day; I basked in transient glory and felt a little smug about outwitting Mrs. Johnston.

It probably took the better part of the next two days to figure out she was on to me the whole time. But she was a smart enough teacher to let me have my moment of glory and even think I’d outsmarted her.

I was thinking about that incident specifically, and all the other money I’d frittered away in the years since, the other day while wondering what I might do with a billion dollars. Specifically the billion the federal Liberals have pissed away on their firearms registration boondoggle. A billion bucks. The number itself is almost incomprehensible. A thousand, million. 1,000,000,000.

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