Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What Possessed Me

There was no air conditioning in my classroom yesterday, none to speak of anyway. Students slumped in their chairs. We’ve come to expect some of this due to building construction, but yesterday was sauna warm—the hottest day so far. My pores and hair follicles were standing wide open, making me extremely vulnerable to body snatching. Who should come lurking around but old Bipolar Mohler himself, my dad, his elderly spirit set free to wander the planet while he took his midday nap back in Minnesota. I think I heard my mom playing the piano in the background, something by Dvorák.

As my dad sank into my body through my sweaty head and gaping pores, a student asked me if he could go get a drink of water. I set my mirthless jaw and squinted at him. The side of my upper lip vibrated and twitched, coiling into a sneer. I pushed it down with my thumb. “Sure, you can get a drink of water," I said. "But in the future you should come prepared for things like that because you get up and leave this class at least once every day. That’s unacceptable.”

A teacher’s unspeakable inquisition then flew out of my mouth on the wings of black flies: “Do you want to do some gift shopping while you’re out there? Maybe visit a water park? Would you like me to bring some water to you? What kind would you like, the sparkly or the plain? Do you need to go to the bathroom too? Would you like me to run the water to help make you go? How about a nice shower? Would you like to take a shower while you’re outside getting some water? A bath? You say you’re a bath person? Oh, of course. Let me draw you a bath. Let me cool you off with damp sponges. Let me get my rose petals.”

I stood there foaming at the mouth, expecting the student to turn into a tiny piece of shit at any moment—like I used to do—but was surprised to see that my father’s magic wasn’t working on him. He just sat there quietly, playing with his pen.

“Right on,” he said. “Can I go now?”

“Sure,” I said, my dad waking up somewhere in Minnesota. “Sorry about the heat.”

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