Diapers and Dragons

Friday, January 8, 2010

And These Are Just the Ones I'm Willing to Put Into Print. Imagine What I'm NOT Telling You.

Oy. And vey, for that matter. I received very few responses to my plea for help yesterday, which makes me think that (1) you aren't able to come up with good ideas either, (2) most of you either already know everything about me or (3) don't care, or (4) you hate me.

And in Arby's case, #4 may be true even though he posted a topic idea. (Of course, this is the same sort of sadistic stuff I would do to him if he asked for topic ideas, so I can't hold it against him. Too much. We English teachers, former or current, are a twisted people.)

So...what do I write today? Monica had a question about my most embarrassing moment, and when I read it my mind instantly filled with a dozen memories all clamoring for attention. The sad truth is that I remember my embarrassing moments (and yes, that is VERY plural) all too well. Probably for the rest of my life. Because I'm special that way.

This topic also works because I managed to slip on some water in the hall this morning and take a very ungraceful fall. Fortunately there weren't many students around yet, so I was only mildly embarrassed. Unfortunately the students who were there treated the event like I was some poor elderly person. You know, all like You've fallen and you can't get up! Did you break a hip? Can I help you? Should I call the administrators? An ambulance? The SWAT team? Are you sure you're okay, ma'am???

I'm thinking I would have preferred some mocking laughter. Maybe even a little light finger pointing. Then I wouldn't have felt about, oh, eighty or so.

Back off, AARP.

In the larger scheme of thing, there are a few embarrassing moments that top the list for one reason or another, and since I already confessed the fall this morning and my brilliant head-bashing from last week, I might as well continue to bring laughter into the world at my expense.

You're welcome.

The Humiliating Incident of the Stranger at Half-time

I rarely attend sporting events, but back in college I did go to one college football game at the Spartan Stadium. I have no recollection whether we won or lost. What I do remember is during half-time when we were actually sitting on the benches rather than standing on them, I looked around to see if I recognized anyone in the student section. Because I was so popular, yo. I spotted a guy just a couple of rows back and thought Hey! Isn't he in my lit class? I think he is! 

And instead of just smiling and nodding and moving on, I decided that I was going to show the people I was with that hey, I KNOW people, okay? I am COOL and stuff. So I called out to him, Hey, Tim [we'll say that was the name, because this detail escapes me]! Did you get that reading done? Crazy stuff, isn't it? or something along those lines. He looked a little surprised, and he smiled at me hesitantly, so I carried on, manic smile plastered across my face, babbling about the last lecture and the paper that was due and blah blah blabbidy blah.

His friends started chuckling. Then he did too. And that's when I realized: Tim (or whoever I thought he was) didn't have a beard. And this guy did. More of one than could have been produced in the two days since we'd been in class together.

I grinned again, trying to pretend huge waves of humiliation were NOT in fact washing over me, turned back around, and made sure never to look behind me the remainder of the game. Yeah. I was one Cool College Chick, alright. *snort*

A Rose by Any Other Name

One of my great failings as a teacher is my persistent inability to remember names. Every year I offer extra credit to students who can get me to remember their names after the first two weeks of school--through positive means, of course. Spray-painting my car is a no go. I always warn them that my brain is capable of blanking completely at any moment, however, and so I will most likely get their names wrong many, many times for the rest of our time together.

There was one time, however, when my little problem became, well, a little more problematical.

Parent-Teacher Conferences are rather exhausting. Before the advent of online grade checks, parents did not always know how their children had been doing before they came to see the teachers. After endless streams of five-minute conversations with parent after parent after parent, one's brain becomes a little numb. At least, that's what I tell myself when I remember this one conference about five years ago.

My line was huge that fall, for whatever reason, and a set of parents I had never met sat down and told me their child's name and hour. He had a common first name--Justin or Andrew or Alex or something like that. Let's call him Alex. I grabbed the grade sheet from that hour's pile and launched into my explanation about why Alex had a less-than-desirable grade and how he needed to turn his work in on time and pay more attention in class and blah blah blah.

His parents looked at me a little shell-shocked, mumbled something about this not having been a problem before and they'd absolutely get right on him, and stumbled away, presumably weeping inside about their wayward son.

Twenty minutes later another couple sat down. And they gave me their son's name. And I realized, to my horror, that I had mixed up the two boys and had told the parents of an A student that their son was nearly failing my class.

The telephone conversation I had the next day was such fun.

Gone with the Wind

My tenth grade year (during which I was in Michigan) there were three girls with whom I was friends: A, L, and C. We hung out. We were a pack. We fractured immediately after that year, but it was the one furlough I was here in the States when I felt like I belonged to a little group, however dysfunctional and bitchy we were.

I was quite socially awkward, really, but tried to fit in. So when C threw a birthday party and invited lots of people and I was there too, I tried my best to be cool. You know, one of the gang. At first, all went well. We did some sort of mall activity, and afterward went to C's house for food and movies. I have never been one of those girls who limits her food intake to supermodel levels when in the presence of males, and I was hungry that night. So I loaded up my plate with chips and salsa, sat on the floor, and dug in while Batman Returns ran on the VCR. About five minutes later, the Great Disaster occurred.

I farted.

It wasn't huge, it wasn't long, it wasn't even nasty: it was one of those all-too-audible poots that just escape.

It might as well have been the loudest, longest, nastiest farts ever produced by a member of the male species as far as the other teens were concerned. Gales of laughter broke out, and one girl managed to squeeze out through her giggles, Oh look at her plate! No wonder, with all that salsa!!! And more laughter ensued.

In my memory, every face was on me, every mouth was gaping open, every finger was pointed. It was horrific.

I ran into the kitchen and called my dad and begged him, through sobs, to come get me rightawayrightnowican'tstayhere! Then I huddled by the wall and tried to disappear. Another girl that I knew a little came in and opened her mouth to say something--and I slapped her. I slapped her face and hissed that she and everyone else was horrible, mean, awful, and I wished they would all just go away. She did.

I found out three weeks later, when we finally started talking to each other again, that she had come in to see if I was okay and to try to comfort me.

C never even spoke to me about it. She was having too much fun with her other friends to care.

Eventually I got over it all. But to this day, that remains one of the most humiliating events of my life, all the more so because the consequences lasted for weeks. My soul still shrivels a little thinking about it.

Ah, good times.

3 bits of love:

mom said...

Oh hon, I always think humiliating moments are best left in the closet or under the rug until they don't hurt any more. I hope yours don't hurt any more, but I have the feeling they do. Your writing, anyway, makes them sound fresh. We've all had those awful situations, though. None of us have been spared!

Viv said...

Ouch! Just reading that made me long for a little mocking laughter on your behalf.

Arby said...

"Poot" is one of the funniest words in the English language.

I’ve made the identical parent-teacher conference mistake, except that I caught my error before they left the room and did my groveling in person.

I had the very same problem with names, especially with the quiet students who just don’t talk much.

I do believe that I am going to teach my children that if they fart in a public setting they should hike up their pants, raise their hands, and own it with a smile and joke. You know what Mel Brooks said:

“Farts are a repressed minority. The mouth gets to say all kinds of things, but the other place is supposed to keep quiet. But maybe your lower colons have something interesting to say. Maybe we should listen to them. Farts are human, more human than a lot of people I know. I think we should bring them out of the water closet and into the parlor.”

Let go of the past. Let it go. Forgive yourself. Laugh at yourself. Then let it go.

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