Friday, May 30, 2008

Portrait of Loren as a Rectangle of Sod

It's 1997 and I'm a 22 year old college grad, so excited to begin my first week as a classroom teacher. All I want is to be taken seriously, and even though I'm dressing in tweed jackets and wool pants to appear older, I'm getting prom invitations instead of respect from a group of snarly seniors.

"There are things about a writing a college essay that I just don't get," says a clean-cut boy in the first row. My mind is racing. "Oh-no, he's deviating from the lesson plan!" I stand before the young mob without a weapon, and the hamburger I ate for lunch is doing step aerobics inside my stomach. I start reviewing the organization of this type of essay on the the chalk board. A girl sitting near the door, with unnaturally red hair that seems to climb out of her scalp in the form of many braids, raises her hand. My eyes are drawn to the spiked dog collar that she wears. She's grinning and I'm slightly frightened because her shirt warns me to: "Get Ready! The Anti-Christ is Coming." Then again, if he comes right now, maybe the class will be distracted from the fact that I am nervous.

I force a pleasant expression onto my face and call on Methuselah. "Why do we need to write a conclusion if we're done stating our main points?" As she's speaking I'm now staring at her teeth, because I think I see fangs, and I'm wondering if they're really plastic. I'm so green at this profession right now, I could pass for a nice puffy rectangle of sod, or star in "Gumby Gets a Teaching Licence," (a movie I just made up while daydreaming).

Maybe only seconds pass, but the pack can smell my nervousness. Even the kid in the back who sleeps past the bell looks up. Their varied pimpled faces smile in sweet satisfaction.

Then it hits me. Confidence smacks me across the face and says, "What are you thinking?! You know how to write and you can teach these little piranhas." So, I start speaking, but it's one of those moments when you step outside yourself and the voice of someone else comes out of your mouth.
"Writing a conclusion is like wrapping a present. When you give a present to someone you do not hand the person the gift still in its bag with the price tag attached. That's rude."

An amazing thing happens. They respond.
"That would be cheap," shouts Methuselah.
"It would prove the person doesn't care," says the clean-cut boy.
"My mom does that," shrugs the sleepy boy as his head droops back onto the desk.

I finish my metaphor in triumphant clarity. "The conclusion is the wrapping paper of your essay." They like it and it makes sense. The bell rings just in time to prevent further questions.

I'm smiling because something really special has just happened to me. I know in my heart that the idea came from someone who would be in my corner today. It belongs to my 7th grade Biology teacher, Miss Bradley. She passed away at a young age. I secretly thank her for helping me through my first week as a new teacher as the next group files into the room.

1 comment:

Dean said...

I'm using that for everything- wrapping paper!
It works because everyone (and I mean EVERYone) likes getting presents that are wrapped in paper- better than gift bags, and much better than a Target, WalMart, KMart, or AnyMart plastic recycled material bag, even if it is BLUE.

Dear Internet Traveler,

Welcome to my writer's blog, started about six years ago for fun. Over time, the writing I have posted has ranged from personal reflection, to Long Island history research, to tall tales for my own amusement, to feature articles for local newspapers. As you can see from topics listed here, I travel in many mental directions in regard to interests. Click on the tabs and labels to explore my strange mind which senses that you may be having a criss-cross day. If so, perhaps this blog will distract you. However, please note that if you tell me my blog is beautiful just to get me to advertise rhinoplasty surgery and cheap drugs from Canada in your comment, I will ask the gods to give you a tail that cannot be concealed.

Fondly,

Loren Christie

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