Friday, April 4, 2008

You Learn Something New Every Day

When I was in high school I would have keeled over and died if I farted in public. Apparently this is not the case in high schools today. I’ve been substitute teaching (more on that in another blog) and thinking about how much things have changed since my days in high school and as a high school teacher. Note passing is completely passé, replaced entirely by texting. The students tell me that if they try to act sly when texting they’ll get caught, but if they are more brazen they’ll probably be able to get away with it. They can’t make calls during class, but texting seems to slide under the radar just as earlier generations’ note passing did.

Cell phones come in handy for more than texting, as I saw last week in a class I was “teaching.” One girl thought she had some sort of weird growth on her back, but she couldn’t quite see it. Her friend snapped a quick pic of it with her phone and voila, problem solved. While these girls were discussing backs, growths, and ideal tattoo spots, one of the girls passed gas. Loudly. Giggles, but NO MORTIFICATION. Another girl burped loudly a couple of times earlier in class. It’s funny because I had convinced myself that my own kids, 6 and 9, would one day find their current habits gross and start showing some manners because of peer pressure. I was hoping peer pressure would eliminate using one’s shirt as a napkin, nose picking, talking with a mouth full of food, and passing gas at the table. Now I’m thinking they’ll pick up more gross habits as they get older.

You may be wondering why I was being paid to sit around and watch all of this. In my defense, it was a very small class in which the students, all Seniors, were supposed to be working on whatever they pleased. I don’t think the teacher had farting and burping in mind, but at $13.00 an hour, I didn’t feel highly motivated to press the issue.

Besides, we did work on vocabulary. For instance, I had no idea a tattoo on the small of the back was called a “tramp stamp.” The lovely young girl who wanted to get one had an excellent rationale, too. She said that getting one on the stomach would get all saggy and distorted after childbearing, while a tramp stamp wouldn’t stretch out and would be covered by business attire on the job. It’s fourth quarter Senior year and you can’t say these kids aren’t planning for the future. I just sat in my chair with my saggy self and had another sip of tea.

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