Editor's Query: Tell us about a time when a show-and-tell didn't go exactly as planned

Sunday, December 26, 2010; W16

In my fourth-grade public school class, our teacher decided that we were going to get some culture in Brooklyn. So instead of the usual educational television with puppets (this was the pre-Muppet era), we had opera piped into our classroom one afternoon per week, for instance.

And our show-and-tell time was devoted to reports with visual aids on foreign countries.

When my turn came, I decided to be somewhat original and wrote a report on immigrants in the early 20th century and their positive impact on U.S. culture. I included a picture cut out from Time magazine showing what I captioned "a typical immigrant with his wife."

The photo was of an angular-faced, bearded man and his wife wearing a big furry hat. My show-and-tell was a big success -- and all of the kids commented on the terrific photo.

Later that evening, my father told me that my teacher had called the house to tell him and my mother that they needed to go over my show-and-tell presentations with me.

Turns out my "typical immigrants" were the founder of the Soviet Union, Vladimir Lenin, and his wife.

Phyllis Peres, Takoma Park

New query

Tell us about a time whenyou learned you weren't as smart as you'd thought.

If you have a 100 percent true story taken from your own experience concerning the above query, send it to queries@washpost.com or The Washington Post Magazine, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. Include your daytime phone number. Recount your story in 250 words or fewer.

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