Citag

They say you never forget your first love or, at least, your first crush. The first person you looked at who made you feel different, like you wanted to play tip-the-can with them… but maybe… you’d LET them catch you?

These feelings are complicated, it might take years to work out what they really mean, and even longer to admit to them. Learning the pleasures and perils of love is part of growing up and the first bloom of romance sticks with you – even if you forget the details, you remember the feeling.

What about hate, though? Do you still remember the first person you hated?

I do.

I had a teacher in Primary school – for THREE formative years – and she. was. the. worst.

Let me start off by being very  clear: She was never abusive or cruel or even a terrible teacher in the sense that we definitely learned things, and I know now that we could have had it so much worse (especially in Ireland, sensitive topic) but we didn’t know that then. For us, at least, for me, she was as bad as it got.

I was terrorized. I dreaded going to school, even though I was bright and enjoyed learning, the woman was the reason I learned the word bitch.

Remember those Nokia Blokia phones with predictive text? If you typed “bitch” it autocorrected to “citag”. Citag is not a word, so it just became code for bitch… to the extent that anyone under 12 could actually have a secret code. We thought we were pretty sneaky and clever, at least.

There was a scandalous incident in 6th class (aged 11-12 for non-Irish schoolies) where somehow our “genious” code was cracked and the teacher came across a text that read “Ms ***** is a citag”. She made everyone stand up as she interrogated them about WHAT A CITAG WAS. At this stage in my life, I might feel sorry for her, but back then, there was only hate. Emotions are so pure at that age.

I couldn’t tell you a single thing she did to me. I remember hardly anything about her except how actively I disliked her – I’ve never hated anyone that much and I don’t think I possibly could. It has so little to do with her as a person and so much more to do with the impression she left on me. I hated her, that’s what I knew, and that’s what has stuck with me.

Nobody can replace the purity of your first love, just as nobody can replace the purity of your first hate. That’s because there’s nothing left of it except the memory of that feeling. An emotion that intense at such an impressionable age leaves its mark and it might seem like you’ll never feel that way again because it’s not a real feeling, just the shadow of one, magnified over years of edited memories.

In my case, if I never feel like that again… it’s probably for the best. I have no idea where that teacher is now or what she is doing. I don’t know if she was the devil or just a normal woman with a teaching style that didn’t suit me. I’m sure, though, if I saw her again, I would be running in the opposite direction out of horror and fear before I even realised where I knew her from.

I hope I never feel that way again.

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