It was a friggin Twilight Zone. Or like, a Seth Rogen house party. Every kid in the room? Funny as hell. Just their faces cracked me up. One kid had the bright-eyes-long-lashes Whee! I’m in high school! face. Underneath it was an arm, knuckle-punching the guy next to him. Another guy was rocking the genius-Indian-kid features with a sly, private, I-just-ate-a-plate-of-shit smile. Each of ’em sitting knees-forward, heads tilted upwards, smiling pleasantly at me, the teacher-for-a-day. Eager to acknowledge their presence during roll call.
It was fourth block on a Monday.
What the fuck.
It’s a really bad idea to try to explain funny. I’m setting myself up for failure; I know that. But such is the fervor inspired by these students. I have to pay homage.
Their job was the create a Powerpoint, an overview of everything they’d learned thus far. Engineering students, they put their glossy Beiber-styled heads to work. But one kept falling over. Silently, in his chair. No fanfare; no laughter. Just a fluorescent-orange t-shirt and its body, suddenly, clattering to the floor. Nobody acknowledged it; fingers kept typing. Investigating, I found the lad working away and perched on the masterpiece above. I don’t know how they made it, but they did. Inside of two minutes. Without a sound.
It wasn’t cute, I know. Teachers should keep their shit together. But I laughed until I cried.
Before long, a young man brought his completed Powerpoint up and laid it on the desk. Six slides per page, as instructed, but each slide overlaid with a famous guy’s face. Click on the photo and do Where’s Waldo. You’ll find him.
The long lean kid, braces and goof-grin, wore a Teflon moto-cross jacket. A lanky Evil Kneevil.
The guy with the Algebraic equation t-shirt ate Lorna Doone’s from a tiny Tupperware.
The white Harlem Globetrotter bounced a giant rubber ball with his left hand, typed a blue streak with his right.
The final completed Powerpoint hit the desk and immediately, telepathically, they were on a mutual task. In one blink, two perfect aisles of chairs faced the whiteboard. In another, four tables made arms, extending off the aisles. Third blink and the eyelash-kid was in the teacher’s chair, with Flight Simulator driving the plane through the overhead projector. In the 20th timewarp of the day, each boy was in an airplane seat, leaning left then right as the plane navigated the Andes.
After the crash, they told me this was their dream-come-true. They had never assembled a classroom jet plane before. That feat? An unpracticed ballet.
When the bell rang and the halls crowded, I stood and watched wistfully as the pack of clowns rushed off. Another teacher’s voice, correcting a student, cracked my reverie: “WATCHYER LANGUAGE.”
And I got it. I got it all. The reason the kids love me, and the reason I had to quit full time teaching. Me and the kids? We’re the only ones who think school’s allowed to be fun.