Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Picture's Worth A Thousand Deaths

I've never seemed to have much luck when it came to pictures, be it school pictures or even a candid photograph.  In my elementary school years, I was much fatter.  Back in the day, there were two choices for school backgrounds:  neutral pastel blue or gray or TERMINATOR LASERS!  Because it was the early 90's, everyone wanted the "robot genocide" background because it was the best way to compliment their mullet or rat-tail.
"Give me your clothes, and your motorcycle."
And there I was:  fat, surrounded by a boring backdrop.
Fast forward maybe 20 years and my incompatibility with the snapshot is still a legitimate talent.  Don't believe me?  Go on Facebook right now and find a mutual picture of us.

See? Ruined.  Even 200 year old Native American photographs are more illustrious and they refused to smile on account of their firm believe that their souls were being vacuumed away.  The horrifying thing is, I am just as cursed outside the frame.  I don't need to be in the picture for bad things to happen.  It has become an inverse four-leaf clover.  My spirit animal is a deer being hit by a Hummer.


Exactly 1 year ago tomorrow, I was in attendance of the U.S. World Cup qualifier in Columbus, OH.  Ninety minutes later, a cadence of cleats struck the pavement in the tunnel to a 2-0 victory.  In a matter of moments, we would learn that we had secured our berth to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
I was ecstatic. I had witnessed history.  I was also tired and simply wanted to make my way home, wash the sweat and dried beer showered on me from the fits of joy following each goal.  Sure I was only going to get maybe 5 hours of sleep, but in the long run, it would be worth it.

While tickets were close to $50 each, the total investment of the game would be roughly five-times that amount.  Upon returning to my car, I discovered that my driver's side window had divorced the rest of my car.  Like tiny pieces of glitter shimmering in the streetlights, my window had been shattered into hundreds of pieces.  There was no Stone Cold Steve Austin to follow, though.  No Jim Ross screaming about "the Texas rattlesnake."  There was only panic.

I just remember saying "no no no no no!"  and circling the car in a frenzy.  Upon further inspection, my laptop case was gone.  And that explained it.  Some colossal dick saw the case, thought "wooo free laptop," shattered the window, and fled with its contents:  some graded pre-tests from my students, some pens and post-it notes...and my school pictures I literally had just gotten that day.  Obviously I never got the bag back.  Odds are the guy checked out what was inside, saw there was no computer in there, and tossed it in the nearest alley way or dumpster.  But not before cutting out a 3x5 and securing it to his fridge that is likely kept together with 3 rolls of duct tape; watching over an appliance holding expired mayonnaise and a lifetime supply of bologna.  Which brings us to today...

I strolled into the office after school as part of my usual routine:  use the restroom before I left, and check my mailbox for any important documents.  Today, the school pictures arrived.  My box was saturated with no less than 15 envelopes, one of which was my own.  Paging through to the bottom, I glanced at my picture.  However, 85% of my face was being obstructed by the paper surrounding the clear plastic panel used to preview the photo.  So I did what any normal human being would do:  I took my picture out of the envelope.  What transpired next took a mere two seconds, but its effects were everlasting.

As I was holding on the rest of the pictures, I couldn't get a firm grip on my own, and dropped it.  It fluttered in the air like the feather in the opening/closing scene of Forrest Gump as it descended toward the floor.  In one final, gliding motion, it disappeared underneath a door...a bathroom OCCUPIED bathroom door to the LADIES bathroom.

What do you do?  Leave the scene?  It's your PICTURE.  It's not like they can't put it together.  Do you "make the first move," knock on the door and crack a joke to try and cover your tracks:
"So what do you think? You can put that up on the mirror if you want to!"

Or do just simply wait and try and play it off?  Pretend that you have no idea what just happened and then quickly take the evidence once the patron leaves.  More concerning, however:  who was in there?  A teacher?  Secretary?  One of the curriculum directors?  A parent!?  I soon got my answer...

After a flush, 15 seconds of running water, and a few clicks of the paper towel dispenser, the door opened and out walked one of my fellow teachers, Mrs. Elerly.  In her hands was...well, me.  Her look was that of "is this a joke?" combined with "are you serious?"  With a feeling of relief, I gave her a surprised look and said "sorry, I was aiming for Mr. Branson's (the principal) door."
She merely laughed, and gave it back to me.

After a brief moment, I looked at my still-frame self and shook my head, as if to say "what the hell were you thinking?"

Sunday, September 7, 2014

My Boy George: JEAN FRIDAY

Going to the gym is a real treat for me.  That, or just a flat out horror show.  Between the people who basically live there, color-coordinating their shoe and Lisa Frank clothing color scheme, the floating torso bros who have no regard for their lower bodies...
"All day, everyday, BRO."
....and the people who just have flat out terrible, or downright wrong, form...
KILLIN' IT, BRO. regular trips to the gym is just an absolute buffet of judgement.  I could argue with you that judging people is my job...isn’t it?  We just call it “critique” or “feedback.”  But nothing brings me more joy than just people-watching.  Whether it be “slamming-your-weights-is-the-exclamation-point-of-your-set guy” or girl who wears lifting gloves to do crunches.  Also, let me go on record and say “kipping” is dumb.
The ability to take in a scene and point out something in attempt at humor is something I love, be it at a mall or watching college football on TV.  Is it in attempt to cover up my own deficiencies?  Probably.  I will say though, that I am my own biggest critic, and I frequently interject self depreciating humor here and there.  So if you ever wondered “I hope nobody notices (insert noun here),”  my answer is “yes...and it’s awful.”  On the other hand, if you've wondered “I hope everyone notices (insert noun here),” my answer is “yes...and you’re awful.”
Is it cruel or mean?  I guess so. But sometimes you have a moment in which your judgments turn downright hilarious.  Enter:  George…

George burst into the resource/intervention room in the morning as he usually did, weaving through a crowd of adolescents in attempt to place his backpack and coat in the appropriate space, and to inform me of his lunch choice.  I had been in the room for a minute or two, talking to a few teachers about the usual topics.  It was a Friday, and we were decked out in our finest denim slacks.  Now, let me tell you I am not a jean snob whatsoever.  As a matter of fact, I don’t think I have ever paid more than $20 for a pair.  The irony I see is the more ripped, tattered, and weathered the jeans look, the more expensive they are.  Hey!  These jeans look like they were found in a rail-yard!  How much?  $85?  SOLD!  How bout the ones that were run over by a lawnmower?  JUST TAKE MY MONEY!
Jeans:  where less is more!
In contrast, you can find yourself a pair of Bret Favre penis-jeans for like $12.  Made with the finest,1-inch-thick, Kevlar quality denim.  Well, one of our intervention specialists, Mr. Lipton wore one of these pairs of terror-resistant jeans.  They were box-y, high waisted, and wonderful.
As students filed in, I took notice and commented “sweet mom jeans.”  Mr. Lipton just pursed his lips, and shook his head, seemingly calling me an asshole in a non-verbal, teacher friendly way.
Former Governor and registered sex-symbol, Mitt Romney
It didn't take long until George made his daily salutations, in which he greeted every single teacher and aide there...all except one.
“Good morning Miss Knight!”
“Good morning, George,” the intervention specialist responded.
“Good morning Mr. Kluwe!”
“Good morning, George,” said the intervention aide.
“Good morning Mr. W!”
“Good morning, George.”
“What’s for lunch today?”
“Pepperoni pizza.”
“I’m having pepperoni pizza!”
“You got it boss.”
“Did you bring your protein bar?”
“I sure did.”
“Did you bring a protein bar with marshmallows?”
“Not this one. This one is ‘Blueberry Crisp’.”

George then clapped in excitement at the thought of me eating a Blueberry Crisp protein bar, and began to make his way to his work area, leaving the group.  Being the only teacher who was not greeted, Mr. Lipton was left unfulfilled.  Not only had he just been personally insulted by me, he was downright ignored by George.
“George!  You’re not even gonna say good morning to me?!”
“Good morning, Mr. Lipton!” George said, as if he hadn't missed a beat.
“No, I don’t want your good morning,” Mr. Lipton said in a playful, bitter tone.
Again, George was (is) autistic, so he wouldn't get Mr. Lipton’s humorous, faux outrage retort.  Either way, George was willing to bury the proverbial hatchet by paying Mr. Lipton a compliment after a pause:  “I like your mom-jeans!”
Again, Mr. Lipton pursed his lips and nodded his head.  He looked at George for a moment, then to me offering me a hateful gaze, then back to George.  After a moment of silently nodding and considering his reply, Mr. Lipton simply said “thank you, George.”
George, again, clapped in excitement and returned to his work space.  I then had to return to my work space...

But not before needing to change my now urine-soaked jeans.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Answers from the Kids: Year 2014


How are you?  You look good.  Seriously.  Have you lost weight?
Anyway...a few months ago I decided to air my grievances in regards to the 2013-2014 school year.  It was like watching half of a Rocky movie: no happy ending, no uplifting workout montage; only Stallone getting the shit kicked out of him and the credits roll.  
Needless to say, there was a bit of “radio silence” since the last entry, during which I decided to remove the previous chapters from this very blog. In short, it’s easy to burn bridges as soon as you cross them.  In order to give a better representation, I want to distance myself from last year a bit more.  The story is all finished; it will see its due time.  But not yet.
Consider a woman who carries her offspring in her womb for 9 months: completely changing her lifestyle, watching and monitoring her every move; later, spending hours in labor, having her body and special places stretched and wrecked in ways that one may think are physically impossible, only to have her lying in a Long Island Iced Tea of bodily fluids, and you decide to ask her: “hey!  Let’s start planning another!”  
While I've been told childbirth is the most physically exhausting experience to ever endure, I bet she could conjure just enough strength to find the nearest Bio-hazard slot and stab you with it’s contents. Is it a topic worth discussing? Sure. Is it a topic to discuss immediately after producing a living creature via Slip-and-Slide? Not if you value your penis, guy.
Much like our heroic mothers and their children in utero, I’ll need to let this tale sit a bit longer until it is ready to see the world...only my child is black AND white, and I’m not going to post pictures and talk about it every social event.

So...that’s that.  Moral of the story:  wait.  Now let's have some good old fashioned fun on the World Wide Web.

Multi-cultural friends surfing on keyboards in the atmosphere.
Just like they predicted in the Old Testament.
The genesis of another year brought on the typical educational research on my part:  the interest inventory/questionnaire.  It’s really great because it helps me at my job, but also satiates my need to judge others.  It’s a win-win.
This year’s crop was a bit different, in that instead of asking the usual “Mr. W looks like…” question, I asked a broader question in which I had them complete the sentence “My first impression of Mr. W was…”  I found this to be a bit better, since it would widen the scope of responses as well as stop softballing the Zac Efron answers.  And honestly, it’s fascinating to hear a completely neutral party’s first thoughts of some semi-athletic hobbit who claims to know science.  So, who am I in the eyes of an adolescent?
Ok.  I see it now.

“...a guy who looks like a ‘Mario.’”
- Ok.  Interesting start.  Probably the dark facial hair?  Not that I have facial hair, but I will go on record that I could grow a VERY HANDSOME FULL MUSTACHE IF MY ROOMMATE WOULD LET ME.  I also can jump high, collect coins, and murder my enemies with turtle shells.

- Good.

“...he likes food.”
- That one stings.

- No?

“...intelligent and athletic.”
- Scholar of the Year.

“...when I first saw you, I thought you were a crazy person.”
- Ok.

“...serious and sarcastic.”
- Nailed it.

“...he looks nice but strict.”
- As in I look nice, or I’m a nice person?  I did wear a nice shirt that day, I think.

“ and laid back but kinda short and I know his wife.”
- ............

“...this should be good.”
- Ok, this one I legitimately laughed.

“...his eyes are gorgeous not trying to be weird, they just are sorry! LOL!”
- Thanks!! LOL! WTF?! (emoji)

“...his eyes are really pretty.”
- Thanks.

“...he’s young” and/or “...he’s in high school” x 24
- Why do I do this to myself?

Then, two days later, the floodgates burst open:

“Hey Mr. W, we decided…”
“We decided that you look like Zac Efron.”
“Oh wow.  That is very neat.”