Tuesday, September 15, 2015

At War with Mirrors: Doppelganger 2015

"We all need mirrors to remind ourselves who we are.  I'm no different."

Amidst the chaos of another year, the dust swirling as it meets the freshly hardened floor wax, the new batch of pupils stride in ready to make their mark on another crop of teachers.  They believe they are lords of the manor, so to speak.  Nevermind the fact that the high school is literally connected to the building.  A mere twenty or so paces. Even Stephen Hawking would sneer at the challenge, or lack thereof, in his electronic monotone.

I am left with a blank slate.  I know nothing of their kind, who they are, or where they come from.  All I know is that they are loud, and some of them smell.  Any good teacher cannot fathom a successful year without knowing their students:   how they view themselves, their strengths, their weaknesses, their likes and dislikes.  Like one hundred little research projects due ASAP.  I hate deadlines and the anxiety that compliments it.  But that is also where I thrive the most.  Ask me to write a poem and I'll throw feces at a wall.  Put a knife to my jugular, and I'll write Shakespeare.
I am the Wizard of the Spreadsheet; the Sultan of Google.  I am magic with the technology I bring, Order of Merlin:  First Class.  I prepare inquiries for my youngsters, who anticipate my every move.

"Who is this man, and why is he here?" they wonder both aloud and internally.  "He has the stature of a boy, the face of a adolescent, and the attitude of a teenage girl."  The signals sent are mixed, with both style and smoke.  Looking to their peers, they wonder what to make of this man, who has climbed the professional ladder to be given the responsibility of the education of a century of humans.  They question both his motives and their own choices, and perhaps looking above to a god who refuses to hear their pleas of having a different science teacher.  He sits alone at his stool, his throne.  He is all they have in the ways of science, like Moses leading the Jews from Egypt.  Illuminated with weak halogen lights and a bright Epson projector, he speaks softly yet sternly.

Each move and word calculated.  I must not waver.  Any weakness would be exploited like a crack in the winter pavement.  To be frozen and thawed excessively until it breaks.  I would do no such thing.  This is my savanna.  I am a lion.  I stare at my realm and see nothing but puny men.  There are no pacts between lions and men...

With shivering hearts, my prey neatly sitting at their desks, unaware of the feast I was going to partake in.  Each adolescent visage smothered with tiny shadows, cast from the light that only a Chromebook could provide. While light is often riddled with allegorical parallels, the brightness would indeed fail the students this time around, as they navigated their way through a maze of links, accessing the survey I had provided. Ironically, this light was their pathway to doom.
I must know my enemy. Sun Tzu once wrote "Know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster."  Each question I prompted to them in this survey was a tiny battle.  Each response they elaborated on was my victory.

This feast would slake the hunger of hundreds of days, not of the body, but of the mind. A swarm of clicking and confusion circulated the stale air of the room, the vent faintly droning, just enough to drown out the sound of the fearful whispers and the crunching of a dozen brows.  Eyes darting to and fro, they wonder what kind of being would dare inquire such psychologically deep questions, such as "do you have any siblings?" Their bout with existentialism becomes horrifyingly real.
As a final plea to oneself, eyes fixate on the glistening lawn outside only yards away, reflecting the tiny beads of water manufactured from a cool summer night.  From afar, they appear to be tiny stars; and much like the burning celestial bodies, the proximity so unforgiving.

With shivering hearts, they wait as they look up to their apparent leader, a towering 5'7, as they read the final question.  He circles them like a cobra, slithering about its domain, prepared to swallow this substantial knowledge whole.  The tedious pecking at keyboards fills the room, as students begin to give up hope.  I unhinge my jaw in delight as they respond to the survey's grand finale.  They are unsure how to respond, their resolve is shattered.  There is no going back now.  Horrified, they read...

"I think Mr. W looks like..."

"...a baseball player."
"...a college student."
"We love each-other just as much as we love diversity!"
"...a game show host."
"...a high school student."
"I'd love to go to the Max, but I've got a study date later with Kelly..."
"...a male gymnast."
I'm actually okay with this.
"...a person in a band."

"...Adam Sandler."
Not cool.
"...Bill Nye in his early years."

"...he's too buff for his shirts."
God, I hope so...
"...Hiccup from How to Train Your Dragon."
This is...not too terribly far off, actually.

"...I guess Johnny Depp??"
"...Ian Somerlander." aka Ian Somerhalder
So I look like a college vampire.  Got it.
"...Ironman." or "...Robert Downey Jr."
Probably the sarcasm?
"...Jeremy Renner."
Nobody wants to be Hawkeye.  Not even Hawkeye.

"...Rob Lowe's younger brother."
This is acceptable.
This is probably what they were going for.

"...Zac Efron." or "Zach Effron" or "Zach Efron" or "Zack Efron."

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