Current/Recent Reading List

20 November 2006

Like being a normal teenager isn't embarrassing enough.

One thing I noticed about teenagers fairly soon after I started teaching (and something I apparently forgot from my own blighted adolescence) is their hound-like ability to smell out, and loudly yelp about, injustices. Whether the offense is on a global scale, or a personal one, they do not hesitate to call a wrong a wrong. In our oh-so-neat little postmodern world, I find this somewhat comforting. The flip side, however, is that many of these same teens have developed no sense of mercy or forgiveness. Many of them adhere to the "Do me evil, and I'll never let it go" mantra.

Somewhat comical case in point: A girl who was a member of the senior class just transferred, in disgrace, to another school. Now, I never taught her, but the quick background is that she has always been an unparalleled drama queen in constant need of attention. Sometimes this has meant coming off as a mega-slut who can't keep a boyfriend, and sometimes it has meant inventing different ailments that are threatening her health and well-being.

Her latest attempt at attention was of the latter persuasion. About a month ago, she began telling her classmates, during Spirit Week, that she had an enlarged heart, and that if she didn't have a transplant within a year, she would die. She also told them that, on Homecoming Day, the principal was going to call an assembly of the seniors so that she could explain to them what was "going on with me."

Sad to say, there was immediate skepticism among the faculty, and among a sizeable number of students. Part of my skepticism was based on the fact that a couple of days before I had seen her playing in one of those violent powder-puff football games, and that after she got knocked down she had to have two teammates carry her off the field because she had a "knee injury". In any case, the assembly never came about, but some of her friends who fell hook-line-and-sinker for the whole thing threatened to kick the asses of others who expressed doubt, or downright contempt for her claims.

A week later, she was overheard telling a teacher that the "cartilage around my heart is starting to harden." The teacher, a former nurse, apparently withheld the potentially upsetting news that a) the heart has no cartilage around it, and that b) in any case, cartilage is already hard - being cartilage, and all.

And then came the coup de grasse. One of her friends (naturally) ran into her mother somewhere, and mentioned the devastating situation. Her mother informed the friend that her daughter had no such health problem. You can guess the rest: "Annnnd, they're off..."

After her former friends, who had cried many a tear for her, told her where to go, they had to apologize to those whose asses they had threatened with kicks. And our poor protagonist then, officially, became persona non grata. She didn't show up to school for two weeks, and when she did, it was to transfer.

So that should have been the end of it, right? Well, apparently the smart-assier students who saw her that day greeted her only with the following sound: "Beep... Beep... Beep..." And the drama class, of which she was a part, wrote a mock-funeral skit in honor of her departure. The hook? When they drew the curtain for scene two, which was supposed to be the actual funeral, there was only a box on stage, with no mourners in attendance.

As I said, no mercy. Of course, what she did was indefensible, even if she does have "issues." But couldn't the kids find better, and less bitter, ways to express their outrage?

Ah, forget it Quixote. Go back to your classroom.


middleagedhousewife said...

Hey - actually, there's everything a teacher could want, if you squint real hard ...
a drama queen, her die-hard friends, gullible, niave 'others', a mighty fall from grace and a skillfully (?) done satirical theatre presentation.
Sounds like an 80's movie with Molly Ringwald and bunch.
Course, I could be wrong. Happens all the time, ask my children.

School Master P said...

Yeah, and you wonder what kind of real damage she'll do as a full-fledged adult. By then it might be the stuff of Shakespeare.