When I was in high school, we had a math teacher who was an incorrigible flirt. He was an ugly man, but he certainly had charm, which overrode his looks. Girls benefited from his behaviour. Students generally liked him. And so did I, until the day my father died.
I had come home for lunch to the news. My younger brother decided to skip school for the afternoon, but I did not know what else to do, so I came to class and went through the motions with a huge lump of grief under my heart.
Astronomy: the phases of the moon. My mind wasn’t in it, and I had trouble drawing them, but the teacher was only too eager to help me with examples and jokes.
The next day the news of my father’s death had made the local newspaper. I met the teacher again in a crowded hallway between classes. “Was that your father in the paper last night?” he yelled across the heads of the pupils. I was stunned.
While others discreetly expressed their condolences, this teacher avoided me from then on. I despised him for that. But I also felt that for my exam results it would help to be in his good books again. I decided to pay him back in kind: I started flirting with him, charming him.
For a long time he tended to ignore me as much as he could, but he finally came round.
And it paid off: I got good grades for my final exams!