Sunday, April 27, 2014

Casanovas and Cougars

“I think of all the education that I missed.
But then my homework was never quite like this.
Got it bad, got it bad, got it bad,
I'm hot for teacher.”
- Van Halen

Am I a good looking man?  I would say so.  I’m not trying to sound arrogant, but I know at the very least I am not ugly.  Hell, my students think I look like Zac Efron.  You have to have a certain degree of confidence in this life, especially in the dating world.  When you see a beautiful woman and “inquire”, you subconsciously make a self-judgment in which you deem yourself sexually appealing enough to court this fine young vixen.  Now, if she shoots you down, that all goes to shit, but for a ephemeral moment, you could look in the mirror and see Ryan Reynolds looking back at you.
My first year out of college in my preliminary year of teaching, I was a solitary man who was still somewhat living the college lifestyle.  “Survive till the weekend” was pretty much the motto.  Students would often inquire about your personal life or what you did (if anything).  For the first several months, you would just get random questions as they tested their boundaries, as they learned about this stranger who is so wise in the ways of science:
“Are you married?”
“Do you have a girlfriend?”
“Are you gay?”

Their rationality is indeed comical.  “He doesn’t have a wife, nor does he presently date someone.  Well that can only mean ONE thing: this man adores playing butt-darts.”  I could honestly count on multiple hands the amount of Facebook messages (before going completely off the public social media grid) that I would get from students that would say “hai teachr!  Dis iz (name)...r u gay? Cuz (student) said so...”  Ultimately, you realize that there really isn’t anything you can do to stop the murmuring.  Kids are going to talk.  You just hope they don’t discuss these “rumors” with their parents…and thank god it never came to that, because I could not imagine that conversation.
One fall evening, we held parent/teacher conferences.  The format was basically open-house, each teacher to a table.  Parents could mingle around as much as they pleased with whatever teacher they needed to see.  You could typically divide most of the parents of troubled students into classifications based on just two replies:

“They did what?  I’m gonna beat they ass!”
“Well...he/she says they don’t understand, and that you won’t help them.  I just don’t understand how a teacher wouldn’t help their student.”
The latter of these two responses made me want to eat my own head.  I work with your child every single day in class.  I SEE what they do and HEAR what they say.  Are you aware that your son was making spit-wads or “hornets” during class?  How about the time he took 5 minutes to sharpen a pencil?  You do realize that your daughter talks more than any two people, right?  That may inhibit her ability to hear.  But no, that’s fine.  Just believe ANYTHING they say.  After all, why would they lie?  It’s not like they’d get in trouble.  They would?  Oh.
The worst of it is, the kid is sitting there, just looking at you from across that table as their mother defended them to the death...on an outright lie.  “Is it because you don’t understand?” Mom would ask her son.  He would then nod in the most solemn, somber demeanor, as if to show he was ashamed.  Meanwhile, I am glaring at him, unblinking, waiting for him to make eye contact so I could shout, “LIAR!” with only a cold gaze.
After conferences, student behavior typically divided down two roads, either because the kid got his ass beat, or mom/dad made excuses for their child in front of you, pretty much undermining everything you’ve done and pretty much communicate to their child “keep doing what you’re doing.  No matter what happens, I got your back.”  Ah, parents.
The next day, during my 6th period class, there was a little more social activity than usual.  Even weirder was the fact that they were looking at me as they whispered.  You can typically discern between students looking at you because they know they shouldn’t be talking, and students that are looking at you because they are talking ABOUT you.  This instance was the latter.  Regardless, I presumed that I didn’t want to call attention to whatever it was.
After about 30 minutes in, it still hadn’t subsided.  I opened my desk, grabbed a CD (for you youngsters out there a CD or “compact disk” are these amazing circles that can mystically produce melodies) and used it to check my complexion.  Did I have a booger?  Did I grow a beard suddenly?  Is my zipper down?  Am I gay?!  I would soon get my answer (about the talking...not the gay).

One of my students, Seth, finally broke the silence.  He strolled up to me and in his husky voice, inquired, “Mr. W... you’re single right?”
I just replied, “What does this have to do with what we’re working on?”
“We just need to know…”
Hold on...who’s we?
“Yes, I’m single.  Get back to work.”
Seth walked back to his seat, and then whispered something to a quiet girl, named Ali; a quiet girl who was now blushing red.  Seth was kind of smiling as he whispered, then made a gesture toward me, imploring her to do something.
Why was she blushing?  Why did they care if I was single?  I mean, that’s kind of an abnormal question to be asking me.  And what did Ali have to do with all of this?  I expected better things from her.  She was always a nice girl, and her mom was really nice too, who I had just met last night and OH GOD NOOOOOOOO…
But Ali was already walking towards me.  It all made sense.  I wanted to run, but I’m a teacher.  The only place I could have gone was behind my desk, or maybe slightly to the left of my desk.  Ali was the color of a beet by now; she then sighed in embarrassment as she informed me:
“My mom thinks you’re hot.”
“Uh, ok.”
“And she wants to know if you’ll go on a date with her.”
The class waited in anticipation for my response...
"Yes, Mr. W...DO IT."
“That is really nice, Ali, but I don’t think I would be comfortable with that, seeing as you are my student.”
“Pleeeease?  It would make her really happy!”
“No, Ali.”
For the rest of the day, Ali would pop her head in my room and just say “pleeeeease?!”  I would shake my head no.  I started doing the math in my head.  Ali’s mom would have to be at least 30’s, and that’s if she became a mother at 18.  Was she even pretty?  She wasn’t ugly, I know...GOD, WHAT AM I THINKING?!  Maybe it was Ali’s idea...maybe she heard her mom say I was “nice looking” or something and took that as an initiative to “make her mom happy.”
After last transition, Ali popped in again with her plead.  I said no, but this time I asked “was this all your idea?”  Shockingly, Ali said “no, it was hers.  She came home and was like ‘why didn’t you warn me!  I wasn’t ready for THAT!’ and she asked me if I could ask you out.”
My mouth said “Oh…” but my brain said “what the hell kind of mother has her daughter ask out her teacher on her behalf?! What is wrong with people!? There is no such thing as normalcy anymore!  There isn’t any code of conduct anymore!  There is no Dana only Zuul!”
I felt bad for Ali, too; stuck between two hypothetical lovers.  She just wanted her mom to be happy.  And if that was by dating a, at the time, 23 year old, so be it.  I knew the kids would give her a hard time, but she handled it beautifully.
The next day, I hoped that it had all blown over.  I didn’t get any questions about it at all...until 6th period.  Seth, once again, initiated the dialogue:
“Ali’s mom thinks you’re hot.”
“Thank you, Seth. I know.”
“Are you gonna go out with her?”
“Why not?”
“Because Ali is my student, and that would not be very professional.”
“You aren’t gay, are you?”

Modesty:  UNLOCKED.

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