1. Tony, your controlling superintendent
Everyone has a Yugoslavian superintendent with a predilection for bossing around children that aren’t his and a wife with a serious klepto problem, right? In my 5-year-old eyes, he was the strange man always pinching my cheeks and bearing ominous hammers and tools, who had access into my home and, when my parents weren’t around, would try to assert his authority on me.
2. Your middle school French teacher
I don’t know what it is with French teachers, but they never liked me. Looooooved my sister, but me they apparently couldn’t stand. In middle school, I had the misfortune of having the French teacher as my homeroom teacher as well, which meant she got to glare and yell at me for at least two hours every weekday. Class disturbances were always my fault. She even told my parents that I thought I was “too cool for her.” We did not have a good rapport, and despite the fact that she still visits me every night in my nightmares.
3. Your piano teacher
Linda, your piano teacher for 8 years, may have been 4″8’, but DEAR LORD did she rule with an iron fist. God forbid your 7-year-old self was sleepy by the time you made it to her place after an 8-hour school day. To this day, whenever I doze off—even if it’s in the comfort of my own bed—I’ll dream of her wrath and jolt awake, gasping for air.
4. Your friend’s scary dad
We all have one. He’s the man who has caught you in an inordinate number of compromising situations, and who had complete control over your well-being for the mere fact that he could call up your parents at a moment’s notice and tell them about how you raided his liquor cabinet. He never hesitated to discipline you and probably kept a GPS locator on his daughter whenever you were around.
5. Your sister after catching you wearing her clothes
As a child, there’s nothing more enticing than the collection of clothes in your older sister’s closet. They could be the ugliest excuse for clothing, and they’d still have the lure of Ladurée macarons. Nothing could have prevented you from taking an item from her closet and wearing it to school, not even the sight of your sister’s eyes, piercing your conscience from across the cafeteria. Ah, to be young.
6. Varda Hubara, your Hebrew School principle
And quite possibly the inspiration for Voldemort. Any time we attempted to sneak out of Saturday morning services or congregate in the bathroom during the really boring, hour-long sermon, Varda would be there to scare the bejesus out of us—crouching behind every bathroom door, lurking under every staircase, and hiding behind ever Bema.
7. Your mom after finding your pot
To this day, I can assure you that you have encountered nothing more disquieting than the 11pm phone call from your mother telling you to “come home immediately.” She has a knack for making you feel reigned and defeated even before you walk through your front door to find your bag of pot splayed out on the kitchen counter.
8. Your recovering alcoholic calculus teacher
He’s the teacher who is eerily enthusiastic about his chosen subject, clearly having taken it up at the suggestion of his rehab counselor. He approached calculus as he used to approach his bottle of gin: fanatically, but with an unpredictable and tempestuous temper. Cross him and he was liable to go Patrick Bateman on you.
9. Your friend’s older brother
He could be really hot…or not…but he’s older and so was automatically appealing to you. Sometimes he’d IM you, which would make your day, until he talked about older-guy-stuff like having sex, leaving you cripplingly nervous and scared.
10. Your dad after not showing up by curfew
As a father, there’s nothing more terrifying than your daughter not showing up by curfew. Consequently, as a daughter there’s nothing scarier than the wrath of your father when you don’t show up by curfew. I learned this lesson the hard way, after passing out at my crush’s house and then waking up at 3am to my crush’s mother telling me my father has been incessantly calling them looking for me.
11. The bar and bat mitzvah chaperones
Growing up in NYC meant that 7th grade was an inevitable deluge of bar and bat mitzvahs. Every Saturday morning was another Haftarah portion and, being 12 and 13 years old, a time to get rowdy. Cue the synagogue supervisor man, who would march down the aisles, looking for kids to throw out and make a mockery of. Personally, I always found this to be contradictory to the celebratory and joyful implications of bar and bat mitzvahs, but then again what does a 13-year-old girl with premature pubic hair know?
12. Your Mom’s friend who came to visit whenever Daddy was away
And always bringing you odd, useless trinkets that suggested secrecy and confidentiality. Sometimes he was “the trainer”; other times, the “business partner.” Either way, he always had a mustache.
13. Your doctor
No matter what, there was always one very disagreeable feature about him. For instance, mad scientist-like hair; rancid breath that pierced your nostrils and left a gaping hole in your soul; or a massive, ominous mole whose very sight signified a booster shot.