Saturday, December 30, 2006

Lost In Marriage 2

My wife has been on a roll and really zinging away at me again. Here are some recent examples:

I'm lyin' on my backside in the bed watching television, all snuggly and warm and happy. My little dog Wookie is lyin' beside me and gettin' petted, and all is right with the world. I'm watchin' a sitcom and the couple starring in the show are talking about a married couple they know who are going through a divorce. It seems the woman wanted " last chance at love and romance" and was willing to give up her marriage for that youthful feeling that stirs the heart. Peggy turns to me from her ironing and says, in a very stilted voice, "Oh Walter, I don't want a divorce. I don't want to give you up. I don't want love and romance. I want.........YOU!"


The very next day, I did something stupid and worrisome. I asked Peggy a question, a question of no great importance, but she gave me a concerned look and anxiously said, "Punkin', you just asked me that question about five minutes ago. I'm worried about you and the state of your mind."

I got a little concerned too, because I didn't remember asking her, and I certainly didn't remember the answer. I thought, "I'm getting Alzheimer's or maybe Halfzeimer's, and it's startin' at a mighty early age. What's gonna become of me in the next twenty years if this is my pitiful condition at this early stage of the game?"

Realizing my impending old age was drawing near, I earnestly pleaded, "Baby, please don't leave me. Stay with me."

Peggy dropped her voice and said, "I won't. I've got too much time and energy invested in you already."


Friday, December 29, 2006

Holiday Ramblings

I’m a fifth grade school teacher and have no kids, so the ideas for blogs have come to a screeching halt. All I’ve done since school let out has been to watch videos and gain weight. However, I did spend the afternoon with Warren, a sixth grade boy I mentor. Warren has a wonderful life……..........................
if you live in Darfur. He lives in a rundown, 385 square foot apartment with his uneducated, minimum-wage earning mother who was abandoned by her felonious boyfriend who left her with Warren and a black eye.

I took Warren to the movie theater, and we didn’t go to the dollar theater where I usually go. No sir! We went straight to the top, to the Cineplex 24, with the recliner seats, arm rests with built-in cup holders, a sloped floor so even if a woman with big hair sits in front of you it’s still a great view, a surround sound stereo system, a projector with a brand new light bulb so you can see what’s happening on the screen, and a heater that was turned up so high people were taking their coats off indoors. (There’s nuttin’ quite as heartwarming to the tightwad as the frosty breath of a dollar movie theater audience.)

Halfway through the movie, “Night at the Museum,” the film looked like it caught on fire. I thought for a second that the movie was doin’ a takeoff on the opening of "Ponderosa," the old TV show that opened with a map catching on fire and burning up from the middle out to the edges. Only it wasn’t a takeoff of "Ponderosa;" The film had really burnt up, or melted, or mutated into a quivering blob of plastic goo. A teenager came in and informed the audience that the projector would be fixed and the movie would start again in a few minutes, but I knew better, so Warren and I headed to another screen.

We watched a few minutes of “Rocky Balboa,” and though it didn’t appear to be a foreign film and there were no subtitles, both of us were having trouble understanding WTF the actors were saying. The main problem with the film was it just wasn’t Warren’s cup o’ tea. I could tell by the way he sat in his seat, so we got up and left.

By this time, the line to give everyone watching “Night at the Museum” a refund or readmission tickets was short. We got in the back of the line and just before it was our turn to get our readmission tickets from the manager, I turned to the last guy in line who was right behind me and whispered, “Watch carefully. You and I are in the back of the line and that means a golden opportunity awaits us. Follow my lead.” I told the manager I didn’t want two tickets for my boy and me. I wanted TWO tickets each: one to finish a movie we didn’t get to finish, and one for our troubles.

She was adamant. “I can’t do that sir. You get just one ticket for each person.”

I said, “But that’s only a ticket for half a movie. We’ve already seen half of it, so we have to come back and watch the first half all over again and THEN get to finish the movie.

“That’s means you owe me. You get to see a movie and a half for the price of just one movie.”

I scowled and said, “Well that makes me an unhappy camper. I spend my time and my gas and the boy and I are just plain disappointed. I’m gonna leave here unhappy with the Cineplex 24. Instead, why don't you give me two tickets for each of us, and I’ll be extolling the greatness of the magnificent Cineplex 24.”

She rolled her eyes and gave me four tickets. The guy behind me was giving the same pitch to her as we walked off.

Warren was disappointed, so I took him to get a hamburger at Fuddrucker’s, arguably the best burger in our fair city. Fuddrucker’s hangs old toys, bikes, and signs from the ceiling and on the wall, and they have an eclectic assortment of statues and motorcycles all over the place. Warren was eating his hamburger in record time, excited about the d├ęcor, and making me feel old.

“Look there, Mr. R.! It’s an antique baseball glove! There’s an old, old, wagon. And there’s an antique bicycle.”

Of course I’m older than all the antique toys there. Anyway, Warren then adds, “That bike is an old one like Einstein made. Einstein invented the bike.”

I just had to play school teacher and give Warren a very simplified and succinct explanation of Einstein’s contribution to mathematics and his famous formula E = mc2. However, I left out the latest anti-male propaganda our society uses to emasculate men. I didn’t tell Warren that Mrs. Einstein was really the genius in the family. The man of the family, Albert, was merely the unkempt front man, the shill if you will, for the brains of the operation. This anti-man stuff is getting’ out of control. Last Sunday my wife whispered to me in church, “Say, pass the hermnal.”
But I digress.

Right after I explain that Einstein was a mathematician, not an inventor, Warren says, “Look at that statue of Long John Silver. He has a wooden leg because one of his legs was circumcised.”

I nearly fell out of my chair. I told him that Long John Silver had burnt it badly while deep fat frying a batch o’ fish, and his leg had been amputated, not circumcised.

Warren. I love being around kids, and I’m looking forward to school and the kids who provide me with my blogging ideas.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Merry Christmas

I don't have children of my own; I am just a school teacher, and I teach them. That means I don't have to/get to select and purchase Christmas gifts for kids. I do have piano students, so I get to buy for them. It is really wonderful to watch a little girl's eyes light up at the jewelry box, or to watch a boy's face realize the gift card I bought him for the sporting goods store is enough to buy heelies.

It is possible I have spent so much on myself that I don't need anything anymore, but I prefer to believe it really is better to give than to receive.

I won't say "Happy Holidays." Even Scrooge said, "A merry Christmas, Bob!"

Merry Christmas to Us, Every One!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Spelling Sentences

I'm old school and still teach spelling, and I also expect the fifth graders to know how to use their spelling words in sentences. I know that children will say, and with certainty, that they know how to use the word. I can say, with certainty, that many times they are unable to correctly use the word. Here are some examples of my fifth graders' sentences. I will leave them untouched , without embellishments or embroidery of any sort except to highlight the spelling word. Just verbatim sentences:

"The man had to betray his boss and not kill the cow."

"The man died when his radiation exploted."

"The president did'nt know what he was doing in the deficit."

"The fatter you get the more you are at risk of becomeing obese."

"I found my perspective in my room."

"Albert Einstein was so busy he didn't have time to comb his hair."

"Santa Clause isn't real because if he could go fast enough to go around the world in one night his body would be crushed by the sleigh and he would be turned into a quivering blob of pink goo."

Thursday, December 14, 2006

No One is Perfect...Shucks!

I know that no one is perfect, but there are people that seem perfect. One of my piano student's father is one of those men that reveals no flaws. He is intelligent, handsome, articulate, friendly and engaging, a good provider, his lovely and personable wife is content, his two precious daughters run to greet him at the door when he comes home from work, his home is kid-friendly, and everyone in the family seems well-adjusted, loving, loved, and happy.

So when I heard this story about him I was a little surprised. I know he isn't perfect, but that was only in theory; until I heard the story I had no proof that he wasn't. It isn't much of a mistake and really doesn't qualify him as an ignoramus in the category of Yours Truly, but it is proof that even Mr. A. isn't perfect. His wife told me that he was putting Christmas lights in the front yard tree. This year he planned to do a better job than last year, so he went up a little higher. However, he went up too high, became frightened, and was unable to climb down, so he hung there on a little branch for awhile and then called his wife on his cell phone. She said he seemed fairly calm, but he wanted her to help talk him down. If he couldn't make it, they'd have to call the fire department. The wife and his two daughters talked him down with encouragement and offers of hugs and cookies and hot chocolate if he'd just take those first few steps down.

I won't bring it up to him, and I won't mention the fact that his Christmas lights are REALLY low in the tree this year. I used to take secret pleasure when other men would do somethin' stupid or silly like that, but nowadays I am saddened. It's as if my own ability to at least appear perfect has somewhat diminished, which should no longer concern me since my motor mouth destroyed all pretensions of perfection long ago.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Progress Reports vs. Report Cards and the TV Burden

It was "progress report" time at our school last week.........time to hand out what used to be called "report cards" to my fifth graders. A progress report sounds better, doesn't it? When you get reported, that's bad. "I'm gonna report you to the principal." "If you don't behave I'm gonna report you to the police." Yes, the term progress report is much gentler, and it is implying that, "I am going to give a report on your progress, and how much better you're doing, and how much improvement you've made." Definitely better. More politically correct. I bet some administrator got a promotion, a pay raise, or both, on that one idea.

All the progress reports I handed out during parent/teacher conferences went quite well, except for one. Daniel cried a lot, and in my opinion, way too much for a fifth grade boy. Of course, he got two D's and that caused his eyes to water, but the real sobbing occurred when I discovered that his single Mom has a new job that has her working until 11:00 pm, and in the meantime Daniel watches television the whole night staying up for her (or for Conan O'Brien) instead of doing his homework correctly. He whimpered a little and told his Mom that the homework was hard to understand sometimes. His mother and I gave him my home phone number and the phone number for the Homework Hotline. It was those phone numbers that brought him to sobs.

I must be cold-blooded. I have no pity for him. He needs direction, guidance and limitations. Tea and sympathy? Yes. Pity? No. I bet he won't call.

I have read that the average kid in the United States watches six or seven hours of television a day, or some unholy amount. One of Daniel's classmates, Royce, is only allowed to watch four hours a week. I guess Daniel is just trying to pick up some of the slack and attempting to carry his and some of Royce's fair share o' the load.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Teaching Teenagers and a Sub Story

Every now and then a teacher will tell me a memorable anecdote, and last week a substitute teacher at our elementary school told a group of fourth and fifth grade teachers a unique experience she had at the nearby middle school.

That's what we call 'em here in New Mexico. Middle schools. In other parts of the country they call them junior high schools, but they're the same thing, and they are filled with kids who, when interrogated, will state their unequivocal belief that they are smarter than me. I don't teach teenagers. Or at least I try not to, except for that one moment when I got conned to teach teenagers.

It happened at my church, for heaven's sake. I was having a grand time teaching fourth and fifth grade elementary Sunday School. However, there was a class of about nine or ten junior high and senior high school teenagers without a teacher, and somebody asked me to switch classes and teach the teenagers.

I told them, "Oh no! I'm not doin' that! I'm not stupid. I can't teach kids that age."

The congregation member/Christian /salesperson / shimmy shyster /snake oil peddler on the other end of the conversation said, "But you're a professional teacher with capabilities and experiences far beyond that of any normal human adult. And don't forget, you'll be teaching children who are believers in Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior, and they will be at Sunday School ready to learn more about God's Word found in the Bible. And you have been through five years of BSF and are very knowledgeable on the Old and New Testament. If anyone can handle this job, you can."

I'm ashamed to say I fell for that crud, and replied, "Yup. Yup. Dat's me. I can do dis. Gives me da job!"

Five Sundays later I quit, with a resignation letter to the Sunday School Superintendent, informing her that the God-fearing teenagers in our congregation had emotionally driven me to bended knees on a dead end street. Half of them had told me on more than a dozen occasions that they were far more intelligent than me and any of their previous Sunday School teachers, and they were always askin' me what in tarnation I was mumblin' about, and they told me that everything I said and ever would say would be under immediate scrutiny as a lie, and they asked where was my hair, and then after gettin' personal like that and leavin' me exposed, so to speak, they questioned my credentials as a Bible teacher. One of the boys had expressed his concern, on more than a few occasions, that I apparently was an evil man who was corrupting God's Word, was on my way to Hell, and mentioned something about Dante's Inferno, and brought up the idea that maybe my imminent and welcomed death would necessitate a tenth level of hell being developed especially for human frailities such as myself, and one of them told me to quit asking them to sit down and pay attention, followed by an aside about different learning styles and that some people were "mobile learners."

I told that story to that lady, that substitute teacher at our elementary school, and she agreed. "Oh I hate subbing at middle schools. The kids have no respect for authority and are incorrigible."

Then she said something that caught everyone's attention in the teachers' lounge. Everyone stopped chewing and listened as she told us this inspirational story.

"I do have one shining moment as a substitute at the middle school. One day I was subbing in a seventh grade classroom, and during social studies I was hit in the face by a spit wad. It was a big, wet, juicy spit wad. I didn't see who did it, and I felt humiliated, and I was upset, and I asked the class, 'Who was it that threw that spit wad?' Of course, no one answered, so we went back to reading the textbook, but I was so upset by the incident that I lowered my head, closed my eyes, and prayed to God. I prayed, 'Dear God. Please help me find out who it was that threw that spitwad. It isn't right that this student gets away with that type of abuse to a woman they don't even know. I know it's impossible for me to find out who it was, but I would appreciate some intervention on your part, Almighty Creator, to help me do the impossible and reveal to me the perpetrator. Please help me find out who it was.' At the very instant I finished my prayer, I opened my eyes, looked up, and lo and behold, there was one of the boys in the class with his arm rared back and ready to hit me with another one o' those nasty spit wads. I caught him right in the act! It was wonderful!"

All of the teachers in the elementary school teachers' lounge nodded their heads in agreement, expressed acknowledgment of and appreciation for the Creator working in our lives, and offered up a silent thankful prayer to the Infinite Being and Lord of Lords for making us elementary school teachers.