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I wasn't a good student at school; actually I was very far from any educational acknowledgement.  I saw school as a great waste of my most precious youthful time. There were so many things to do out there, far from the school's fence. For me school, especially high school, was a prison.  I made a few attempts to escape.  Instead of tunnels under the fence I had medical notes that I stole from my father, an orthopedic surgeon, in which once every two to three weeks I broke some other organ in my collapsing body. The scheme ended when I brought a note that said I broke my leg, but when I returned to school after a week the headmaster called me into his office and showed me pictures of me playing basketball. I was transferred to the problematic students' class. Some were violent and some mentally challenged, but I was so happy because our teacher was the most beautiful woman in the whole universe. Her name was Debby and she was originally from Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). She was very tall with green eyes and the most amazing long, shiny red hair that gave me the impression that she is constantly on fire.  She looked like a model, was intelligent, attentive and extremely sensitive to each student in our bizarre class.


She was the first teacher to call me after school to tell me that I have great potential. You can do it she said again and again, I believe in you. She treated us as one coherent unit like we were in a constant battle with casualties and injuries, but needing to stick together no matter what the pressures from home or school. Test scores were individual but the average score was based on all our scores so if one fucked up we all got extra homework.


One day while sitting on my porch I saw the red hair goddess approaching my home. My parents worked in two different hospitals and came home late, so it was Debby and I alone in my home. Show me your room she demanded after hearing that my parents are not home. I was sixteen then and so excited, Debby and me alone in my room, I had visions of this moment in my wet dreams. She wore a red leather mini skirt with high heel boots, a light, white shirt and scattered silver jewelry. She was perfect, my teacher walking to my room, I said to myself that for my red hair teacher I'm willing to run away from home and live with her on an isolated island. Because all I knew about male-female relations came from filthy magazines and porn movies I suggested to her to take a shower.


'A shower?' she looked at me from above, 'do I smell so bad?'


Actually she was a walking perfume, 'no' I said 'but you know…'


'Know what?'


I wasn't sure if I was in the right place here so I said, 'I don't know this is the custom in our home, we share our shower with our visitors.'


When we entered my room she noticed that I unbuttoned my shirt. 


'What are you doing young man?' she inquired.


'This is our custom to have clean shirts when someone visits us the first time.'


Then she saw my room as it naturally was with the adult stuff magazines scattered all over, with posters of my basketball star idols and all my clothes piled up in the corner.


'How can you do homework in this shithole? I'm making home visits today and tomorrow to all my students and so far your room is the most disordered.'


'Okay to work' she commanded.


For the first time in my life I folded my shirts and placed them in the cupboard, moped the floor, vacuumed the rug, changed my linens and placed my shoes in the drawer.


Then in the cleanest room I ever had she told me that cleaning the room is like staying in class to do something that we don't want to do now but has future benefit. Her voice was a distant melody; her red hair had an autonomous life, fire flares.


'I have a mission for you.' I heard the voice rising within the flares, 'to be my assistant and by that be a model to all the class, nobody should hear about this agreement just you and me, okay?'


Sure I said, there couldn't be another answer.


I was deeply in love.


Our class won the first award with the highest scores in the entire city. Only years later I learned that she had the assistant agreement with each student.


I painted the Red Hair Woman for Debby, even today more than 40 years after her visit to my home I have a crush for red haired women.


Have magic in your life

Ted Barr




Red Hair Woman, 2015

on exhibit at Alessandro Berni Gallery, Perugia

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