Two lines in a paper from the next town over. I guess that’s what happens when you teach other people’s children instead of having your own.
David Laudick was my junior and senior English teacher, my forensics and debate coach, my drama director, and my quiz bowl coach at Scott City High School. He was well read, cultured, formal, slightly imperious. You didn’t screw around in his class — lazy kids hated him. He was sarcastic, difficult, prickly, and fond of terrible puns. He didn’t hesitate to humiliate the unprepared, myself included. God, I loved him for it.
My junior year two seniors from our debate squad took State and my senior year I took State in Forensics in “Prose Interpretation,” something that perhaps you’d have to be a nerdy kid from a small town to appreciate. Certainly no one will be remaking Hoosiers to commemorate it. Yet it was the first time anyone from SCHS (strictly division 1A, student body: 200? maybe?) had achieved such a thing. That’s because Mr. Laudick drove us the way perhaps only a small-town coach of a small-time activity can. He taped our speeches, delivered exhaustive critiques; ran evening work sessions and paid for the pizza to fuel them out of his pocket; had gatherings at holidays at his home where he showed off his excellent stereo and prog rock collection — oh Mr. Laudick, you weren’t a demonstrative man but I wish I’d hugged you for all of that, at least once.
The last time I visited him he was walking with a cane; diabetes had taken one of his lower legs and when I couldn’t hide my surprise or sadness he brushed them away with his customary dignity. Did he know what he meant to me? I tried to say, but for all the beautiful words he gave me it was never easy to find the ones to tell him that I loved him. I am so sorry for that. He deserves better than some shitty two-line obituary. At the very least, it should have included the word “teacher.” He was one of the toughest — and best — I ever had.