"At the end of the year," he recalls, "one of the mothers called me up, a little curious—she didn't see her daughter slaving over any homework for my class. She said, 'How did my daughter do in your class?' I said, 'How would I know? I'm her teacher.' 'Did I hear you correctly?' she said. I tried to explain what we were doing. I told her Walker Percy's great line: 'You can earn all A's and go out and flunk life.'
Leaning against the teacher's desk, McCarthy flipped through the stack and read selected excuses aloud: "'I didn't write the paper because I came home late from night school and I forgot— seriously.' 'I didn't write the paper because I am so focused on my other subjects.' 'I didn't write the paper because I didn't desire to do so.'" McCarthy held this page aloft and nodded approvingly. "I admire that."
An elegant- looking teacher in her 40s wandered up and joined the conversation. The truth, she said conspiratorially, is that when you close your classroom door, you're in charge and there's a lot you can get away with. The others nodded in agreement.
Suddenly, the teacher registered with alarm that a reporter's tape recorder was running. She declared that her comments were off the record and abruptly walked away from the group.