Stories from school and college

Fighting Tooth And Nail To Keep A Cast Together

, , , , | Learning | February 23, 2021

It’s the first week of classes in my first week at university away from home when one of my wisdom teeth literally shatters in the middle of lunch. After a bit of calling around, I discover that since I’m not registered with a dentist in my new city yet, my only option to get the remaining jagged shards removed is the emergency after-hours clinic at the hospital. Since any movement of my jaw slices my cheek into ribbons, I don’t have much choice.

I’ve managed to get myself cast in the theatre society’s next play and the first read-through is this evening, so my next call is to the director. It’s relevant that this play is a satire with some VERY adult themes.

Me: “I’m really sorry, [Director], but I can’t make it tonight.”

[Director] gives a long, despairing groan.

Director: “I will make any changes to the script you want, but I’m begging you not to drop out on me.”

Me: “What? No! I’m not dropping out. I have a dental emergency, and even if I’m not in the chair during rehearsal, I won’t be able to speak.”

Director: “You’re sure? You’ve read the script. You’re okay with it?”

Me: “Yeah. I won’t be inviting my granny to see it, but I think it’s pretty funny.”

Director: “Oh, thank God. My lead actress and both parts of the double-act dropped out as soon as they saw the script. The lead actor is wavering, too. I couldn’t take another dropout.”

I got my tooth out — which was a disaster — and made the second rehearsal. The play went great and I’m still friends with some of my fellow cast members nearly twenty years later.

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These Freshmen Are Jumping In With Both Feet

, , , , , | Learning | February 22, 2021

In my freshman World Literature class, one of our units is “1001 Arabian Nights,” not an uncommon choice of study for a high school.

Many of us are surprised by the book’s inciting incident: a king finding out about his queen’s affair, losing all trust in women, and taking a new bride every night only to have her executed the next morning before she can be unfaithful to him. The book is built on the premise of one bride continually telling him stories, causing her death to be put off just one more night until he no longer wants to kill her.

The king finds out about his wife’s affair because he discovers her in their bedroom with a stable boy who is holding her veil, deeply shocking for the original Muslim audience of the early Middle Ages.

Students in the class each have to have their own copy of the book; however, we are confused by the teacher’s unusual strictness about exactly which version of the book we need to purchase. When we ask about this, she tells us this story.

One day, my teacher saw one of her students looking oddly at his book, face pale and eyes wide. He looked like he was about to faint. Before she could say anything, he got up from his desk, shuffled over to her, and squeaked.

Student: “Uhh… Mrs. [Teacher]? Are you sure this is the right book?”

He showed her the page he’d been looking at. Skimming the text, my teacher found what had prompted him to ask the question: a passage about the king discovering the affair, with a long and explicit description of the queen’s state of undress.

The next time she taught that unit, she made sure everyone knew EXACTLY which version of the book to get.

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D***, What A Prude

, , , , , | Learning | February 21, 2021

I work as a substitute teacher. One day, I’m working in a fifth-grade classroom — the students are about ten years old — and it’s story time. Their teacher has been reading a book out loud, and I’m supposed to read the next chapter to the class.

The book is a young adult novel, with a few swear words here and there. For example, a character says, “D***, that was close,” after escaping a bad situation.

The first time I get to a swear word, I pause and ask the kids if they are okay hearing swear words as part of the story. The kids agree that they’re okay with it, so I continue reading, swear words and all.

A few days later, I’m subbing at the same school but for a different teacher. The teacher I subbed for earlier storms up to me before school begins.

Teacher: “Why did you teach my students swear words?”

Me: “Um… I don’t know what you’re talking about. I didn’t teach them any swear words.”

Teacher: “My students said that you swore during story time.”

Me: “Oh, that? I was only reading the story. I even asked the kids if they were okay with me reading the swear words, and they said they were.”

Teacher: “Well, they’re not okay with it! I never use swear words with my students. I make up silly words when I read to them.”

Me: “You never said anything in your lesson plans about that, so I didn’t know.”

Teacher: “They’re fifth-graders! They’re too young to hear swearing. I shouldn’t need to write it in my lesson plans!”

Me: “Mrs. [Teacher], with all due respect, the kids said they were okay with hearing swear words, and they knew what every one of those words meant. I understand that they’re not learning those words from you, but they’re learning them somewhere.”

Teacher: “Then they lied to you! Fifth-graders are too young to know swear words. Now you ruined everything because the kids asked me why I don’t swear when I read the story.”

Me: “Okay. I’m sorry for misunderstanding, and if I sub for you again, I’ll make sure not to swear when I read a story to the kids. I’ll use words like dang or shoot, instead, and—”

Teacher:No! That’s no good, because it’s too close to actual swearing! You have to make up random silly words like dibbydabby or swizzlesticks!”

The bell rang to start for class just then, so I just turned and walked away from her. I never did get called to sub for her class again, so I really hope her students are doing okay.

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Kicking Butt Knows No Gender

, , , , | Learning | February 19, 2021

I am genderfluid, but I was assigned female at birth. I am on the wrestling team, and we have to wear jackets on the days of meets. 

Girl: “Oh, it’s so cute that your boyfriend gave that to you!”

Me: “Oh, um, no, actually. This is mine.”

Girl: “No! it has to be your boyfriend’s!”

Me: “[Girl]… Um… I’m gay.”

Girl: “So? What does that have to do with this?”

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Art Is… Complicated

, , , , , , | Learning | February 17, 2021

I was a physics major, but there were still some general education courses that were required. Although a few had some useful information, most of them were worthless. I went to the first few classes, and if I found that they contained no useful information, I would not read the books or go to the lectures except when needed. One of these courses was called “Survey of the Arts.”

For my midterm essay, I argued that art movements typically have patterns opposing societal change, such as the “Romanticism” art movement standing against increasing industrialization and a decreasing sense of individual dignity.

For my final essay, I argued that art movements typically have patterns reflecting societal change, such as the “Realism” art movement being caused by increasing industrialization and a decreasing sense of individual dignity.

I got good grades on both.

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