Mr. Angevine is dead. I told you about him before. He was my Latin and German teacher. Our nickname for him was Beaver. Actually, I think just one other girl and I called him that. He had a thick dark mustache and bushy, long eyebrows. Wirey gray hairs sprung from them. Sometimes he wore a toga over his suit for no reason. Like, once a month.
Mr. Angevine was really smart. My friend Aaron once said he thought Mr. Angevine had two brains and that is how I've thought of him ever since. Aaron and I used to try to figure out a way to cash in on his endless vault of trivia and knowledge.
He was so smart. When it was his turn to monitor the gates at basketball games he could be seen reading novels written entirely in German. That blew my mind. Remember I went to school in rural Tennessee, a public school, so my education was lacking at best. But there were definite bright spots, and Mr. Angevine's class always challenged me.
Everyone in Latin class signed up for the Junior Classical League. Then we'd actually go to the events. It wasn't one of those clubs people joined just so they could get more page numbers next to their name in the index of the yearbook. He made you do shit. Like take the National Latin Exam. And go to the Classical League Conventions. Once we went to Memphis and competed in the mock Olympics. It was disasterous. There were all these games that our poor country school didn't have. Like swimming. We sucked hard at the athletic competitions. It was embarrassing. But we did okay on the quiz games and exams because Mr. Angevine was passionate about language. Like few people I have ever met. And he made us love language too by showing us the direct link between Latin and our own native tongue. I can credit a lot of my desire to write to him.
He was funny. And a little bit pervy. And there were rumors he was not nice to his family, but I never heard anything but gossip. But overall he was fascinating. And he told us the most amazing stories. He told us tales of singing sirens and Trojan fleets and tragic betrayal. He required huge passages of reading each night for homework, words I ate up with fervor.
My senior quote in the yearbook was about the most pretentious thing I can think of. But it was inspired by Mr. Angevine. It was, "Damnant quod non intellegunt." Horrible, I know. And frankly, that is about all the Latin I remember now. We rarely spoke it in class. What was the point? No one else did. But we read it and we wrote it, and it gave me a whole new appreciation for this language from which it has evolved. Latin is not a dead. It lives in my language, these words right here.
But Mr. Angevine is dead. And that's too bad.