Helping You Get the Most Out of Your Misery






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Saturday, May 05, 2007


The Haircut

I got a haircut this week, which was a good thing, because I was starting to look like an Eight Is Enough-era Adam Rich gone horribly to seed. I just decided--after a stretch of wearing my hair longish without committing to going whole hog and ill-advisedly trying to recapture my long-tressed days of "glory"--that enough was enough and that I was tired of not being able to see in a high wind.

The downside of my tonsorial adventure is that I had to deal with reactions from my students.

I've dealt with this before. In fact, I've had a more extreme metamorphosis (longer than I had it to shorter than it is now). But I don't think I've ever been quite as annoyed by it all.

One really odd thing to me about the student/teacher relationship is just how much attention students pay to shit that I don't even think about. If you show up to work wearing old shoes that are comfortable, if not in the best condition, you will hear about it. A lot. If you wear the same shirt as another teacher, a good dozen of your students will point this fact out to you. They really pay attention to this crap.

So I knew going to work Tuesday morning that I'd be catching all kinds of flak. Which I did. There was the basic, "You cut your hair!" To which I usually replied with my trademarked, "No, someone else cut it." There was the more critical, "Why'd you cut your hair?" This one I don't really understand. The decision to cut one's hair is not exactly monumental. Whence comes this desire to probe the psychological reasons behind it? When classes passed by me in the hall, there was some nudging and whispered "Did you see Mr. Wack's hair?" Which makes me really, really sorry that the kids don't have anything better to discuss.

What was new this time is a reaction that both worried me and pissed me the fuck off. We're approaching, painfully slowly, the end of the school year. This is the long slog toward summer during which students lose any and all interest in learning and discipline becomes something best handled with a bullwhip and a cattle-prod. Our school has had some issues in this department over the course of this year and there's a distinct Lord of the Flies vibe in our halls at times.

In this spirit, I had to deal this week with a handful of students who thought they'd inflict some emotional scars on my by simply pointing at my hair and laughing. Now, let me say right here and now that this did not have the effect on me that I believe my students were going for. It did not make me start to doubt myself as a man. It did not embarrass me. I did not run out and buy a curly wig so that I could maybe win their approval by looking more like Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction.

It pissed me off. ('Cause it's so inordinately rude.) Each time it happened--and it happened a number of times--I gave my usual response when a student does something like this. I simply shot the kid my best, "What the hell is wrong with you?" look and went about my business.

And, indeed, what the hell is wrong with these kids? I made more than my share of fun of my elementary/middle school teachers behind their back when I was a kid. It's natural. It's what kids do. But I would've been dipped in shit before I'd've said anything remotely insulting to their face.

These kids, however, have no problem asking you what that is on your nose as a means of making fun of your zit. They feel quite free in musing aloud on exactly why your shirts get pitted out. They relish the opportunity to mock your choice of footwear because it doesn't match what they've been made to think is the only acceptable shoe of the moment. This is, of course, in addition to the numerous fuck you's and other assorted curses directed at you on a weekly basis.

You can't, of course, just scream, "I don't give a shit what you think of my shoes, my hair or any other part of me, you obnoxious little douche!" 'Cause that's abusive. So I just have to do my best to shrug it off. And I don't give a shit, really. I'm not there to be an urban fashion icon. But this stuff wears on you after awhile. And it just really makes me wonder why they do it.

I should, I'm fairly certain, be able to get my hair cut without catching 31 flavors of grief for it.

Oh, how I feel your pain. I teach "adults", but it's still the same rude shit. I can call them out on it & tell them how rude they are (and usually do so in front of the rest of the class so they feel extra asshole-y), but I always stop myself short of telling them what I really think.
"You're just angry because you're still in the closet. Boys don't want you either, for the record."
"I may look like crap today, but that's fixable. You, however, are stuck with a face that could stop a clock, asshat."

I have a coworker who had to go to "sensitivity training" this week for calling several students "fucking idiots" (they are) and "retarded" (they might very well be).
I gave him a pat on the back.
I have no idea what's wrong with those kids. I'm always all smiles in the face of authority.
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