I didn’t get it at first. What could he mean by asking:

Does your mother have a black dress?

No other credential program professor would tell this story. No other credential program professor would have this story. But because he’s Dr. Rosy, he’d tell us how he as a school teacher once dealt with a school bully.

This had to have happened in the mid-90s, in the first few weeks he taught 8th grade English in a high school somewhere in the Midwest.

The way he tells it, he came across an all-state athlete picking on some scrawny kid whose feet weren’t touching the ground. The lineman had the kid up by the collar.

Dr. Rosy — then Mr. Rosy, doctoral student — walked up to the bully and told him to put the kid down. The bully complied immediately. This kid must have been pushing iron since the 3rd grade, recalled Rosy.

This athlete was 6 feet 5 inches, with a solid 300 pounds of muscle, and now focused his attention on the upstart teacher.

A girl off to the side of the scene told the football player to just take care of Rosy already. Rosy wasn’t impressed; he asked the girl for her cell phone. She declined.

In that case, you call 911 and get an ambulance here. Well, maybe two. This guy’s so big he won’t fit in one.

Rosy was at least 43 years old and slightly shorter than the bully. A large-framed man even then, he would have been quite a bit smaller than the massive boy defiantly facing him, as if to challenge the teacher’s authority with a show of muscle.

Rosy, unimpressed, asked the kid a question.

Does your mother have a black dress?

The bully didn’t understand, so Rosy repeated the question.

Does your mother have a black dress?

Rosy must have feigned pondering to himself for a moment. Knowing him, for dramatic effect.

Because she’ll need one in about four days. That’s about when the state buries you.

That’s about when the story ends with my class laughing hysterically, some laughing out of horror.

He never advocated using or threatening violence, of course, and made sure to say that.

You have to improvise, overcome and adapt to these situations.

That’s one way to look at it.

These impromptu anecdotes were the best part of my credential program. The most entertaining, the most useful, the most helpful, the most consoling. I always felt like I learned something from every one of his classes.


  1. > improvise, overcome and adapt

    One too many watchings of Heartbreak Ridge, i think.

  2. Or too many tours in ‘Nam. I also happen to know that Dr. Rosy was a veteran of the Marine Corps. At least, that’s what he said.

  3. Kathryn

    “The bully complied immediately.”

    Sounds like the guy backed down already. Was he just a proxy for Miss Cell Phone?

  4. In the hasty writing of this anecdote, I left out the “bully got in his face” part. Edited.

  5. Lots of guys talk about this matter but you wrote down some true words.

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