Lest We Forget – Edna Krabappel
by H D Thompson
Being bitter and jaded isn’t easy, but Edna Krabappel sure made it look like it was. A minor character in The Simpsons, she was given enough stories of her own to make her an integral part of the show and an inspiration to all us cynical and twisted young souls out there, awaiting our first cigarette or glass of red wine.
Mrs Edna Krabappel will be retired from The Simpsons soon as a token of respect to Marcia Wallace, the woman who voiced her for 23 years and who recently passed away.
Her passing reminds me of the animated woman I grew up respecting and admiring. Marcia Wallace injected life into Edna Krabappel, employing a sardonic, droll tone to create a school teacher that would be embiggened in pop culture memory forever.
The first time we really got a glimpse into her outside of her smoke clouded classroom was when she placed a personal ad and Bart pretended to be a handsome lover named Woodrow as revenge for detention. It was a cruel and hurtful prank to play, and in revised viewing, is all too familiar for those of us who grew up in the internet dating age when being stood up is an actual thing that happens and it sucks. When she sat there for hours and waited for a man that not only wasn’t coming, but didn’t exist, we understood why she did it. Why she sat there and with every aching minute that passed, every flicker of that candle, every rush of every couple that came and went, because she was desperate for even a little affection, anything that didn’t come from a microwave dinner for one or the gentle caress of the cigarette butt against her lonely lips. She would go on to date many men, and apparently bed even more, but it is this spinsterness that endears her to us.
Mrs K was the sarcastic, lazy teacher we all wished we had. I admired this character, without really knowing it. The cynicism, the dry humour the absolutely droll teaching methods – it was all I wanted to be and pretty much turned out as. My relationship with children even has the same dismissive disdain as her, bless. Sometimes when I laugh, I can hear her derision emulated in my echo. We all know those people who have pretty much given up on doing anything to better mankind and just live on in unabashed shamelessness, and to be honest, it’s those people I want to play with when the work bell rings.
Her ability to say so much with one foul “HA!” and her general town debauchery was something to truly admire. As one
character once said – “You only get one chance with Edna Krabappel”. She attempted to seduce many men in her lifetime and oozed the kind of desperate sexuality that helped shape the mould for spinsters everywhere. She smoked during class when the kids were distracted by a film, or at the back of the assembly hall underneath the neon NO SMOKING sign. She was basically the biggest rebel of all. Remember that time she tried it on with Aerosmith? Dayum. She was, after all, smokin hot when she wanted to be. She was basically the Jackie from Roseanne of The Simpson world.
Then there were these words of wisdom and advice:
“Oh, don’t worry children. Most of you will never fall in love, but will marry out of fear of dying alone.”
“These tests will have no effect on your grades. They merely determine your future social status and financial success. If any.”
When Bart was going to destroy the school with a tank? “No. Stop. Think of the children”.
When someone questioned the point of an assembly about yoyos? “Ah, it will be one of their few pleasant memories when they’re pumping gas for a living.”
The way she would grade everyone a “B” when happy hour in the teachers’ lounge was begging; her penchant for saying “whatever” in response to a kids incorrect response; she would steal school supplies like it was her god damn right; even the simple way she slouched about the town clutching a cup of coffee like it was her last link to life. She was truly an inspiration to all. And who could forget her Fever number with the balloons? Amazing. Getting caught in a janitors closet ruffled up min-romp? We’ve alllllll been there, sister.
R.I.P. Mrs K. You were more to me than a teacher in a show I grew up with. You were a life coach of sorts, and as you would say, “that’s kind of sad when you think about it”. But more importantly, you gave me the perfect recipe for life “Soup for one, salad for one, wine for three”.