Monday, March 10, 2008

Teacher Comforts

Remember when you farted in seventh grade and looked around to see if anyone—student or teacher—noticed? Your teacher did. We always do. And then we laugh about it in the staff lounge at lunch. Don't feel violated. Getting comic relief at your expense is a small perk of a frustrating and underpaid job. Teaching at a junior high is the prime spot for this kind of professional recreation. We witness the best of the worst of 13-year-old lives. And we champion kids for enduring the shittiest possible time. WORDS AND PHOTO BY MRS. P

I am always looking for a Sam from Freaks and Geeks, the best show ever. My current Sam is pictured here, proudly modeling his Halloween costume. That is his real hair. As you can see he has the most amazing mullet, which he meticulously cultivates and grooms. It's like corn silk. In sixth-grade drama he stuffed a pillow up his shirt and tucked his pants into his white socks and waddled across the stage as an Oompa Loompa. It looked humiliating. He is one of dozens of red-faced students I have had over the years.

The other day a girl sincerely told this boy, "You're cute. You look like this model that is on a poster outside the gay bar near my house." He panicked, yelling, "I'm not gay! I'm not gay!" so loud that everyone turned to look. Of course he happens to be kind of effeminate with a high but delicate voice.

Another recent favorite was when I had to tell a girl that her big, thick maxipad was sticking up out of the back of her lowrider jeans. Have you ever seen a girl trying to pull her miniature Abercrombie & Fitch t-shirt down over her pants? And then when it's too small to do the job, stuff two inches of her big ol' winged maxi back down into her jeans before running to the bathroom?

And of course there's the boy with the huge, spit-trapping overbite, bizarre bowl haircut and really large, jiggly man-boobs. He was in a meeting with his teachers and counselor during lunch. He was disappointed with the amount of cheese on his school burger so he began to layer squeeze packet upon squeeze packet of mayonnaise on it to lube it up and carefully spread it around with his index finger, which he then loudly licked. It was barfworthy. Later the same boy actually skipped (picture the jiggly boobs) through my room and said, "I just can't help but feel that this is going to be a wonderful day!" Sometimes I get confused. Am I feeling heartbreak or suppressing laughter? Or totally inspired by inexplicable optimism?

Teaching sex ed can also be fun. You realize what you are in for when someone asks how a woman can go pee, wear a tampon AND have a baby all at the same time. What a feat! I swear to you the girl who asked that question was pregnant one year later. Her mom took her to the doctor when she had a stomachache that just wouldn't quit. That's when they found out she was in labor. She was a bigger girl so no one noticed, including me, and she sure didn't know. I guess I'm a crappy sex ed teacher. Or maybe it has something to do with the fact that her mom told me how she always waited for Jesus to tell her what to do while raising the girl and they also had live chickens running around inside their apartment. While teaching a different group of kids I put the reproductive anatomy diagrams on the overhead. A boy called out, "Can I just c all it the clit?" Oh sure! And another wanted to know, "Hey, is that the ball sack?" Of course, I call it the ball sack all the time.


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