[Editor’s Note: I am Joel Murphy, which means that I obviously have the time to write this little introduction, but I can’t find the time to writing a column this week. Let’s all just assume that I have a very important reason for doing so – like I’m helping to cure cancer or something – and not just slacking off because it’s the summer and I’m feeling unmotivated. Anyway, while I head off to do very important things, please enjoy this guest column by Ned Bitters.]
It is once again the summer. So since I have a ton of free time on my hands while the rest of you slave away at your jobs, I thought I would once again share with you the most memorable lines overheard in my classroom this year.
Once again, these are all real quotes from actual students and teachers …
Raising Student Esteem
Me: “So Steven, have you seen your twins yet?”
Steven, your standard-issue rednecky weed-hound who knocked up a girl he now has absolutely no contact with: “Yeah, I finally saw a couple of pictures of them. They don’t even look like me. Well, they do sort of have the same eyes as I do … when I’m stoned, that is.”
Me: “So they pretty much look like you all the time.”
Oh, So THAT’S Why You’re in the “Ain’t Passed the State English Test Yet” Class Part I
Three kids in the special “Ain’t Passed the State English Test Yet” class (not its actual name, as education, like any other government employer, avoids honesty and reverts instead to inoffensive doublespeak, but that’s a separate column) are playing hangman at the board on the second to the last day of school. One boy is giving the clues. He does a couple of movies and couple of TV shows, then he puts down the marker.
I say, “That’s it?”
He says, “I’m out of words.”
I say, “Already?”
He says, quite seriously, “Well … out of words that I can spell, anyway.”
Oh, So That’s Why You’re in “That Class” Part II
Near the end of the year, a kid in this class was going apeshit over something on his cellphone. He said to me, “I have to show you this!”
I could tell by the way he was acting that it would have been safer for me to just say, “Um … no, I better not. Just put that phone away.”
But this was no time to take the mature route, as I was pretty sure it involved porn. So I said, “Okay, what is it?”
He showed me a brief video clip of a Sarah Palin lookalike engaged in, well, let’s just say that if it were the real Sarah Palin, she’d have no trouble raising funds for another presidential run.
I said, “John, damnit … put that away!”
He did. For about 20 seconds. Then I saw him showing Raymond, another window-licker in the class. Raymond looked at the faux Palin porn, gasped, then said, in complete seriousness, “Man, how did they get Sarah Palin to do that?”
Oh, So That’s Why You’re “That Class” Part III
The Friday before the Super Bowl it was just me and two seniors in this special class. I asked the girl for her Super Bowl prediction. She asked when the game was. I could understand her not knowing this, as the NFL and the networks do a terrible job of promoting this game that no one watches. You never see any ads leading up the day of the big game, right? I told her it was the coming Sunday, as in two days from then. She said she just couldn’t make a guess.
I prodded her, asking her to at least give me two numbers. She thought about it, then gave me these two common football scores: “11″ and “4.” I was going to ask which team should get which score, but the game was in 48 hours and I’m not sure I had the time to go over the fact that two teams play each other in this game.
So then I asked Thomas, figuring the other “man” in the class would salvage the big prediction process. He wrinkled his brow, looked pensive, and then we had this exchange:
Me: “Yeah … and …”
Lowell [thinks some more, then said, with great finality]: “Thirty!”
I did not pursue this conversation any further. Please note that these are not special ed students. Please note your fear for our future. Please note the stunning fact that the final score was not “11-4″ nor was it “Thirty!”
So That’s Why You’re in “That Class” Part IV
Me: “Hey Brian!”
Brian H. and Bryan S., at the same time: “What?”
Me: “Sorry, I meant Brian H. I forgot we have two Brians in here.”
Brian H.: “Next time you call on us remember that my name has the ‘I’ and his has the ‘Y’ in it, so from now on when you say our names say them so that we can hear the difference.”
Oh, You Mean “Quasimodo”?
Girl in hall whom I don’t know: “Do you know where Mr. So-and-so’s room is?”
Me: “I have no idea who that is. I’ve never heard that name. What does he teach?”
Me: “Nope … sorry.I don’t know him.”
Girl: “He’s that guy with the hunch back.”
Me: “Oh, he’s in D-3.”
Funny thing is, it’s June and I still don’t know what his name is, but I do know that he’s the guy with the hunch back.
“Mmmm mmmm … When’s Lunch!” Part I
Email from our IEP (special ed) facilitator: “Please note that Violet So-and-so must continue to wear her hearing device at all times. Also, she will miss school Thursday afternoon due to a doctor’s appointment to have her extensive ear wax removed.”
“Mmmm mmmm … When’s Lunch!” Part II
English teacher explaining his absence from the day before: “I had another appointment with my podiatrist. I’ve been having the damnedest time with this toe fungus of mine.” For the rest of the year, every time I saw this man all I could picture were tiny mushrooms growing out of his toes. Thanks for sharing.
Honesty Is the (Most Hilarious) Policy
Me, to a new teacher transfer, a man of about 55: “So John, when are you going to quit teaching?”
John: “Well, I quit teaching years ago, but I’m thinking of retiring in about four years.”
It’s only September and our department head already needs a vacation … or a good therapist
True quote from department head to third-year teacher: “As I was drifting off to sleep last night, I was thinking about your emergency lesson plans, and I realized that your objective was a bit flawed …”
Yes, this man, while drifting off to sleep, was thinking about the objective of an emergency lesson plan. Can we please award this man the Christa McAuliffe Award. (I mean, not only was she, too, a dedicated teacher, but she has no life either.)
In an IEP (special ed) meeting, the family’s advocate was an Asian woman who said about three words throughout the entire meeting, and these were probably the only three words of English she knew. Her accent was very thick.
At the conclusion of the meeting, as the IEP facilitator was filling out paperwork, she asked for the woman’s name. She said something like, “Mnklngtrksgkngt.” I swear it was a dozen letters long, and not one of them was a vowel, and I know this because she then spelled it out for the woman. Then she was asked for her first name. She said, with the elocution of a radio newsman, “Shon … S-H-O-N.”
Guess I’ll Never Be President of the School’s Social Committee
During the first week back in August, a very attractive 30-something female teacher came into my room to grab something from the network printer. Trying to be the welcoming vet, I said, with as much false cheer as I could muster, “Hi there. I’m Ned Bitters.”
She looked at me for a couple of seconds and said, “Hi … I’mmmm … Chereese Washington.”
Me: “Where are you from?”
Her [after a puzzled pause]: “You do know I was here last year, right?”
Me: “Oh, I’m sorry. Did you get hired in the spring or something?”
Her: “No, I was here all year.”
Me: “Oh, I’m sorry. I’m kind of out of it and keep to myself. Were you in a room upstairs?”
Her: “No, I was across the hall in the E.A. department all year.”
Most Pathetically Ungrateful Teacher Line Since the Perpetually Malcontented French Teacher Bitched about the Inconvenient Toilet Paper Dispensers the First Day We Were Allowed into Our Beautifully Renovated School
Teacher One: “Did you see the new flat screen TV that the new principal put in the teachers’ lounge!”
Teacher Two [filled with disgust and in need of a good smack]: “Yeah … it’s so small!”
Oh Really? You Don’t Say! Next You’ll Tell Me that the Kid with No Legs is Crippled
I had a kid in third period with an eye that had no pupil or cornea. It was nothing but a blue ball. The poor kid could probably sell himself out to a Hollywood horror movie director, or perhaps to someone remaking Poe’s classic “Tell-Tale Heart.” It’s pretty disconcerting, and it’s all you notice when you talk to him. It makes you want to shoot marbles. It would be quite pretty … if it weren’t an eye.
His mother came to Open House. When the parents got up to go, she introduced herself and wanted to talk. After telling me whose parent she was, she leaned in all conspiratorially and whispered, “You know … Daunte’s blind in one eye.”
What? No! You’re kidding! And here I thought that lifeless marble with the eerie blue film all over it was some sort of government issued super-duper extra X-ray vision thing! Wow, thanks for the tip.
Well, I Might Be Lying … It Might Be in There Somewhere … That’s It … Keep Looking … Oh Yeah, Right There …
A flirtatious little girl, who had smacked my old ass with her fist twice in the past couple of weeks, came up while I was standing at my desk talking to another student. She interrupted us with a “Mr. Bitters, I know you have more gum. Gimme a piece.”
I lied and said, “Nope, it’s my last piece,” and then returned my attention to the other girl.
She said, “You’re lying,” and then proceeded to open my desk drawer and look for gum. She found none.
Then, before I knew what was happening, she got behind me, pushed her little body against my back and ass and thrust both of her hands into my front pants pockets and proceeded to search – quite thoroughly – for some gum. This took all of three seconds but it felt like three hours. I was scared shitless. Fortunately, she came up empty.
It was only later I wish I’d have told her that if she kept digging left or right she was bound to find a hunk of Big Red. But I refrained.
It’s So Nice to Find Common Ground with the Kids
Young teacher explaining why she gets along with a kid most teachers can’t control: “We got along from Day One. It’s probably because our kids are the same age.”
Love that Sophomore Tact
A kid in my third period had some congenital defect that results in a permanent limp. The other kids hated this kid, not because he limped, but because he was usually an obnoxious, abrasive prick. Near the end of the year, another boy in the class decided to reach out to the poor, picked-on gimp. Trying to be as sincere and tactful as possible, he asked in the most caring, interested voice, “So, Jerrod … were you like, born defective, or did something fuck you up when you were young?”
Ned Bitters teaches high school and dreams of one day seeing one of his former students on stage at a strip club. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.