EDIT: I apologize to anyone who read this entry before I had the chance to properly edit it. In my sleep-intoxicated state I accidentally posted it instead of saving and, horror of horrors, I accidentally wrote ‘are’ where I meant to write ‘our.’ Collectively cringe with me. Let’s just pretend I was trying to be ironic. Or maybe we can pretend I was trying to give everyone a lesson on why editing and revising is important. Let’s go with that.
Is it possible to feel burnt out already?
It’s only been a month since the semester began, and I’m already parched, desperate for refreshment that can only come from a day off (a fleeting chimera, a mirage in the world of teachers where ‘days off’ are filled with leering stacks of tripe-riddled essays).
You know how sometimes you clean out the cabinet under your sink for the first time in a while and amidst the three half-filled Windex bottles and the obligatory empty canister of Pledge you find a half-moldy, half-bone-dry, crusty shred of what used to be a plush, new sponge? That’s me right now. I’m the sponge.
For this week’s post, I simply give you two events that baffled and amused me this week.
First, one of my students wrote the following in her essay: “We kept missing goals by the length of a long, balboa constrictor.” That’s right – a balboa constrictor, not a boa constrictor. Balboa Constrictor – noun – the freakish, bastard offspring of Sly Stallone and a snake.
Or maybe Balboa Constrictor is the title of the next ‘so-astoundingly-terrible-it’s-mesmerizing’ B movie. Move over Sharknado and Birdemic. The film industry has a new flaming bag of dog doo to lob on the porches of homes across the nation!
This movie will be a cross between Rocky, Splice and Snakes on a Plane. An aging boxing champion who owns a gym (where he teaches a scrappy smattering of ragtag youths how to mug old men and pregnant ladies), contracts testicular cancer after one-too-many shots to the jewels. Having never found a willing participant with whom to reproduce, he longs to leave behind a legacy nonetheless. Thus, he hires a sketchy geneticist (Steve Buscemi) to splice some of his DNA with the DNA of his beloved boa constrictor Adrian. That’s not what a geneticist does, you say? Doesn’t matter. B movie. Your argument is invalid.
Anyway, the Buscemi and friends set up shop in the basement of the gym, which they jury rig into a lab (duh) with a bunker. When the experiment gets out of control (naturally), Samuel L. Jackson is brought in to contain the situation. Why? Because he’s Samuel L. Jackson. He runs around killing these Sly-headed boas that have overtaken the gym while everyone else cowers in the bunker. He says things like, “I’m tired of all these muthf*ckin snakes in this muthaf*ckin ring!” while “Eye of the Tiger” plays in the background. Maybe Rocky will punch his own face on the body of a snake at the end. Wayne Knight will be in there at some point, getting attacked on his way to the vending machine.
Balboa Constrictors – released straight to DVD in a Wal-Mart bargain bin near you.
Next, I give you this week’s Poetic Bus Conversation.
I was sitting on the bus, minding my own business, reading a book, trying to be as invisible as possible (story of my life). Dude sat down next to me. That was fine. He was dressed all in bright, garish, school-bus yellow from head-to-toe. I’m not being hyperbolic – his shoes and hat were yellow. Aside from the fact that I was suffering mild ocular distress (it was like looking directly at the sun), I was cool with it. I’m not one for matchy-matchy outfits, but I figured perhaps he was trying to Livestrong (which is apparently the name of a doomed, yellow ship – sinking due to perforations from thousands of doping syringes). Or maybe he just really likes lemon puddin’ like Stinky from Hey Arnold.
Anyway, plenty of other important men throughout history have made yellow their staple wardrobe color:
Why not swear off all the other colors in the rainbow? Yellow is the new black.
I also observed that he had multiple crosses tattooed on his neck. Neck tattoos are fine, I suppose, except that these tattoos looked like the lazy, haphazard sketches a seventh-grade boy draws in the margins of his science notebook while trying to stay awake in class (like this thing)
Perhaps he deeply regrets these sketchy, Jesus neck tats and wears all yellow to draw attention away from them. It didn’t work. He should consider wearing this instead:
Here’s how our conversation went:
Neck Tattoos: What are you reading?
Me (thinking, sighing):
(I seriously considered prying open the window and leaping into oncoming traffic, but I needed to get home to feed my cat, so I engaged with him.)
Me: A short story textbook.
Neck Tattoos: Ohhhh. Who’s the author?
Me: There are stories by a lot of different authors in it.
Neck Tattoos: (Slapping his lap and motioning to the woman standing in the aisle next to his seat) Hey honey, I got a seat right here for ya! Hahaha!
(I continue reading with the quiet, desperate, futile hope that he’s moved on to new prey)
Neck Tattoos: “Did. You. Get. The. Shoes? asks. Henri” (Let me explain. Dude is reading OUT LOUD over my shoulder. Did you catch that? Dude is straight up reading, haltingly, inarticulately, LOUDLY over my painfully socially-anxious shoulder! I would have felt badly for him and his pitiful reading skills if I had not been so miserably annoyed. Why would he ever think this was an acceptable thing to do? Ever? Boundaries, land-o-lakes, boundaries.)
Me: (How I wanted to react)
Me: (Trying to sound as gently annoyed as possible to avoid some kind of psychotic bus flip-out, I hold the book out) Do you want to read it?
Neck Tattoos: (Continues reading aloud) “My God, man. I. am. finished.” See I don’t get that. Why is he finished?
Well, he’s in a concentration camp.
Neck Tattoos: Oh! Like nazis and stuff! Cool! I love that stuff.
Neck Tattoos: Hey, are you a Christian.
Me: Sure. . . (Listen, dude has crosses tattooed ALL OVER his neck – there was really only one way I was ever going to answer that question, regardless of my beliefs or the fact that they are really not the business of random bus worms. My main goal was to minimize the amount of time I actually had to spend flapping my lips at this clown. An answer of ‘no’ or ‘nunya’ was likely to induce a full-on conversion scenario that would end with me placing my head outside of the bus doors and dragging it along the asphalt.)
Dude: Good, Me too. I believe in Paul and all that stuff. You ever watch the 700 club?
Dude: You should watch it. It’s all about people like us.
Me: (yes, kindred spirits like me and the captain of the yellow submarine.)
For what he did next, I mostly forgave this guy of all of his previous offenses. Also, I started to feel like a giant tool.
He offered his seat to a mother and her little girl who boarded the bus and didn’t have anywhere to sit. Well, first he offered his lap. Then he offered his seat.
Nobody else offered. Just him. That was nice of him.
In his yellow garb and graffiti-festooned neck, he was the hero that commuter needed. I even (mostly) forgave him for watching 700 Club, a veritable religious port-a-john, and reading out loud over my shoulder.
Neck tattoos is probably a better person than I, with my emotional hang-ups and general aversion to most of mankind, will ever be.
By the way, this mother and little girl were the sweetest little family ever. The little girl had a voice like a tiny chipmunk, two puffy pigtails on top of her head and huge, dark eyes. The mother spoke to her daughter with nothing but love in her voice, which is the exception to the bus rule (It’s usually more of a face-glued-to-an-iphone-while-screaming “Sit yo ass down and stop tryna look out the damn window! Shut yo mouf too!” type of scenario.) She only had to reprimand her daughter once, and she did so calmly but firmly and effectively. Magic. So even though this mother wore a hat with ‘YOLO’ printed on it
she made my day and remedied what started out as a dreadful bus ride from conversational purgatory.
It was as if her life’s motto was, “You only live once, so you might as well use that time to be a good mother and raise productive members of society,” unlike the usual “You only live once so you might as well get syphilis from a hooker behind a dumpster.”