Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sanitation Flunkee. Men!

Boys become men, and judging by their behavior when they're boys, men are downright lucky to be alive. The continued propagation of homo sapiens is impossible without men, but judging by the behavior of the male of the species, it is a miracle that homo sapiens is not extinct.

Here are two exquisite examples:

This week my class had a pizza party. Everyone was happy and carefree, keeping one eye on the pizza heading into their mouths and the other eye on the remaining slices. Suddenly, a Dr. Pepper was spilt. The precious, sugary, dyed liquid was flowing rapidly across a desk laden with boogers, bacteria, retroviruses, and swine flu, and heading for its ultimate overflow onto the classroom carpet.

My decades long training in the the internal Chinese martial arts system, Tai Chi and Chi Gung, and the external system, a combination of Northern and Southern Shaolin Kung Fu, kicked into high gear with an adrenaline rush that sent my body and mind, now in complete sync with the motions and reactions of those around me, into a heightened state of realization, and I cried out, "For Heaven's sakes! Somebody do something!"

One of the boys in my class, whose name will go unmentioned, immediately leapt from his desk, ran to the desk that was flowing with precious Dr. Pepper, dropped to his knees, turned his head sideways, opened his mouth, held it underneath the desk, and waited in great anticipation and readiness for the Dr. Pepper waterfall to begin. He caught quite a bit of it before I finally "came to," jumped up, and used paper towels to sop up the liquid off the desk, thus spoiling the boy's supply of someone else's Dr. Pepper.

Now it should be mentioned again that this student was a boy. Most fourth grade girls, having matured to the approximate level of a sixty year old male teacher (me), never even thought of such a solution. But that's being unfair to the girls. For a brief second, I actually thought of getting down on my knees and fighting for Dr. Pepper waterfall space. I could see an ensuing shoulder pushing contest, with me winning, of course. Ah! The conquest!

A few days later, Janice accidentally spilled a package of dyed sugar candy crud on the carpet. Our classsroom carpet was designed by rug experts......adults who were told by their customers, "Look, let's be honest. We're puttin' this carpet into an elementary school classroom. We ain't looking for good or even nice. What we want is a carpet that will hide every conceivable piece of fourth grader waste and yet not be noticed. When the custodians come into the room to vacuum at night, we don't even want them to notice it. They'll think everything in the room is perfect. We don't want anything, and we mean anything, to be noticeable when it hits this carpet. Not a spot of blood, boogers, vomit, snot, or anything. We want the perfect floor camouflage for nine year olds' excretions, overflows, and waste."

Then the architects and rug experts said, "Eureka! This is it! Look at this stuff! This carpet design will hide everything!" That's what they put in my room.

Janice spilled that sugary, purple, candy crystals on our carpet, and I knew if we used water to clean it up, the dye from the candy would seep out and leave an indelible mark. Without the advantage of hindsight, yet thinking rapidly and seizing the moment to pass onto my students all my knowledge, I yelled out, "Oh no! Look at that. How are we gonna clean that up?"

A different boy, whose name shall go unmentioned, dropped to his knees, licked his finger, stuck it into the powder, then lifted his finger and licked the powder off in his mouth, and then did this rapidly, over and over again, at about seventy times faster than Lebron James attacks the basket for a layup in an NBA semifinal game.

I watched in fascination as the size of the powdery pile diminshed in size without creating a stain. However, eventually, my sixty-year old mature mind kicked in, and I yelled, "No! Don't do that! That's gross! Stop!"

He did. But I am still mystified that, "It's a man's world" (see James Brown).