Friday, December 3, 2010

Don't Mess With Me

Click here first, then read.

Popular names when I was a kid, when I was growing up, were names like Missy, Eric, Michelle, Laurie, and Jeff. I lived in Minnesota back then, so I guess you could say those names were popular in Minnesota during the 70’s and 80’s. Andrew, too. And Denise.

Now I’m 42 and teach college courses in Phoenix, Arizona. The names of female students become just a little edgier every year, a little weirder, more and more misspelled. A glance at recent online rosters reveal Kelsie, Mimi, Ariel, Chyna, Cadence, and Sunny. Thankfully for the young gentlemen, their parents have been more traditional: we have Michael, Adam, Phillip, Justin, and Paul.

There was, however, one young man in one of my on-campus classes a few years back whose name gave me pause. His name was Blair. He looked like a witch project coming straight for you, anybody would've agreed. He had one perfect feature—bright blue eyes—but other than that, he was all scary movie: acne, greasy hair slicked into a shark fin Mohawk, clothes right out of the dirty laundry, dumpy fat, just a Pigpen of a guy with fangs.

Blair never talked much, but one day he had to do some talking because when I passed back graded essays, I noticed that I didn’t have one for him. “Blair,” I said. “Do I have an essay from you?” He shook his head and said, “No, I didn’t do that one. I couldn’t think of a good topic.”

I looked at him like he’d just told me he had to change his last name because people didn’t like the sound of “Dahmer”.

“What?” I said. “You didn’t do it? You can’t just not do it. You can’t just skip a unit.” I spit out those last words: skip a unit. Skip a unit. Lick dirty feet. What the hell kind of a world did he think he lived in? Skip a unit. Eat dirty poop.

“Well you said we only have to complete three out of four units, and I didn’t like this one, so I didn’t do it.”

Didn’t like it? Didn’t do it? Smelly poopy pants.

At this point I’m sure I was looking at him like he was pissing on my feet. I was Linda Blair in a face-off with the Blair I Didn’t Do My Witch Project. Everything was fecal and rank and wrong, retarded and Siamese evil, evil.

“I didn’t say you could just skip a unit,” I said, measuring my words. “I said if you fail three units, you can’t pass the class. That doesn’t mean you can skip one.” Rotten smelly fart. Shit finger. “You’re going to have to speak with me after class!”

And I was going to have to go home and take a shower. Skip a unit my ass.


  1. I hope Blair never reads this. Is he a real person? Do your students read your blog? I would be disturbed if I thought my teacher had so many fecal thoughts about students. Thoughts??

  2. OMG!!! I've had that exact conversation with my kids. I wasn't thinking fecally and my kids are really cute...but the exact same conversation "...WHAT, what do you mean you're not going to your room?" The difference....I can drag their bony butts to their rooms. ;) "What do you mean skip your turn doing the dishes...???" Again, I can take away their social life. Good stuff, Kate. This is why I give teachers sooo much credit! I don't know how you all show so much restraint! Kudos!

  3. Ann...that kid should feel disturbed, and ashamed, and remorseful.

  4. Was it wrong that I laughed at most of this?! I mean, the kid's wrong, but what better way to tell the story?!


  5. I found this post deeply disturbing. I built my academic career on skipping units, essays, papers, tests, and classes. Among other things, including a degree.

  6. I was just having this very conversation at work the other day. Back when I was a kid we had like 12 boy names and 12 girl names and that was that. If you didn't like it, well, you were S-o-L. Mike, Steve, Dave, Jimmy, Billy Derek, Shawn, John, Tom and Tim. Lisa, Heather, Kate, Stacy, Tracy, Kim, Carolyn, Mary.

    Heidi was exotic. Keith was an outlier.

    Then my kids come along, they go to school and I'm sitting with them at the dinner table as they regal me with stories of their day and every couple of minutes I have to ask, "Is that a boy or a girl?"