Candy Rant

"I killed a rat with a stick once."

Monday, September 27, 2010

Big Old Ugly Flu Bug and Happy Belated 88th Birthday, Mom!

Had to cut short my weekend with my mom. When I felt the sore throat and the achy everything, I knew I had to hit the trail before I gave it to her.

We did, however, party hard for her birthday on Thursday. My sister, niece, great-nephew and I took her out for Mexican food and she and my sister split a peach margarita. They are lightweights. All of us in the Candy Rant gene pool are extreme lightweights with booze. My mother was less than amused when I wrote this on my Facebook status:

In Indiana celebrating my mom's 88th birthday. She had a peach margarita. Yes, things got out of hand. Luckily I had cash for her bail money.

A friend of mine commented "Your mother knows it's not a real birthday until she's read her miranda rights."

The embarrassment came when Mom was outrunning the cops. They let loose the K-9 unit and as she climbed over a fence, she yelled "You'll never take me alive, coppers!"

OK, that didn't happen.

But after the margarita I did make her pose with me as we left the restaurant hanging on my shoulder as though she couldn't walk. Very Otis-on-Andy-Griffith.

That was Thursday night. On Saturday, my niece and I took Mom to Olive Garden. She never gets to go much of anywhere since she goes twice a day to Shiny Meadows Nursing Home to see my dad and that wears her out. She'd been seeing the soup-and-salad commercials and was chomping at the bit to go eat some. So my sister went to feed my dad and we kidnapped Mom. We took more stupid photos. One of them of me clutching Mom in a headlock and forcing her to drink from a wine glass.

Finally we went to a furniture store to try to talk Mom into buying a Tempurpedic bazillion dollar mattress to help her hip and back. Again, my niece and I documented things: Mom lying on a test mattress as I held a pillow threateningly over her head, and so on. She goes right along acting the fool with us. When she said she'd have to go get a job if she was going to buy a Tempurpedic, I told her I'd teach her to pole dance. "Will I have to work the corner, too?" she asked. "Yes," I said. "And I'll teach you how to make change for a quarter."

I hated coming home early. Didn't get to feed my dad his Sunday lunch. Instead I was stopping on the way home for various hot drinks and hacking my skull off. I cancelled classes today and tomorrow. My students have been sending me kitty videos to help me get well. And now, a cozy date with Scott to watch "House." Not too cozy, lest my flu bug aims for him. One hacker at a time is plenty.

Monday, September 20, 2010

From the Latin: Flappus Interruptus

Last Tuesday's class:

The first class writing workshop discussion for which Flapjaw was present, he came in late. Again, dashing my hopes that he had either dropped the class to make room for a public speaking course or had catapulted back to the Mothership.

"Flapjaw," says I, "you do not walk into my class late." (I never let anyone just sneak in late. I always bitch about it.)

He gave me an odd little salute.

"Is that odd little salute your way of telling me you will not walk in late again?" I badgered.

"Yes," he flapped.

Since he had missed the previous class by showing up an hour late, he had not read the student essays we were workshopping, and therefore could only add a mild I-didn't-get-a-chance-to-read-this-but-here's-what-I-think comment about the small portions that I'd had the featured students read aloud. I sat wondering if there was any way I could withhold the papers from him every time.

Thursday's class:

Flapjaw shows up on time. He sits by the evangelical atheist. Seems they are pals. They like to sit and mumble snarky things to one another.

We start the writing workshop. Flapjaw is to my right in the square configuration of tables. There is one person between us. Mickey. I'm curious to see how well Flap-to-the-J restrains himself in the aftermath of the little talk I had with him in the hallway last week. It went like this:

I run into him in the English Building. Casual small talk. We are alone. I see my chance.

"Listen, Flapjaw," I say, "we're about to start workshops next week."

"Yeah. Yeah. And I--"

I cut him off. "And we need to have some balance in the classroom."

Nod-nod-nod-nod-nod. Apparently he agrees.

"So," I say, "as happy as I am that you're so enthused and have so much to say, you need to give the other people in that class a chance to earn their participation grades."

"Oh I totally get that. I know just what you mean because I--"

"I'll just tell you now, Flap, that if I do this" (I hold up my hand as I would if I were commanding a German shepherd to STAY) "that means you need to rein it in. OK?"

"I know. I've been in other workshops and I'm always the one who won't shut up. I'm not sure why that is. But yeah, I was in Professor Folton's class and I just kept talking and talking and talking--"

I look at my watch. "Wow...I'm late for a meeting."

Now we're in class. He raises his hand. He starts to make his comment. He makes a decent point about the essay we're looking at.

He makes another point.

And then while scratching his forehead under his long greasy hair, he strings on another random comment about the structure of the paper.

And then another.

I hold up my hand. This is our previously agreed-upon signal. STAY, Flapjaw, STAY.

He keeps going. The German shepherd has gone rogue.

I swivel my head away from the flesh furnace that contains vocal Flap-chords and look directly at another student. "Matthew," I say. "What do you think about this?"

Matthew speaks. I see in my peripheral vision that Flapjaw's mouth is hanging open like a backhoe.

My tactic has worked, for the moment.

Five minutes left in the 75-minute class period, and I'm anxious to get it the hell over with and escape to my office to eat my veggie sub. I'm passing out the essays we'll workshop next time. There is much rustling of paper as people go about the business of take-one-and-pass-it-around. There is a low mumbling sound. It is Flapjaw passing along some almost certainly pertinent information to the atheist. The mumbling goes nonstop for the next 20 seconds as I explain to the rest of the students which papers we'll be doing in the next class; one of them is Flapjaw's.

Flapjaw comes up for air: "Can you tell me when my paper will be workshopped?"

I look at him and mentally size him up for a body bag.

Suddenly my beloved ultra-fine-point purple felt-tip pen takes on a life of its own. It forces my hand to lift it up. I point it like a poison dart at Flapjaw. As I speak, I jab the air with this little javelin for emphasis.

"Flapjaw (point). You would know (jab) that if you hadn't (jab) been over there YAMMERING." Jab.

Mickey, who is the unlucky boy between Flapjaw and me has detected the murderous tone in my voice. "Hey!" he says. "Watch my eyes!"

"What?" I say.

"You're going to poke out my eyes with that."

In reality I was nowhere near his eyes, but I've noticed that Mickey displays an eye twitch in class. And on some days, a full-face nose twitch. This could mean issues.

"Sorry," I say, and pat him on the arm.

Flapjaw chuckles a little and enjoys the attention. There is no thwarting him. You cannot teach a child who doesn't understand a spanking. Years ago when some friends of mine were trying to discipline their little boy Ian, they'd give him a swat on the butt and he'd laugh. A little harder swat. Ian laughed harder. They finally had to give up and try time outs, which also made him laugh.

I will find Flapjaw's hinge and I will unscrew it and that steam shovel jaw of his will fall to the ground and shatter. And there he will be, just the sweaty forehead and the greasy bangs and the delicious silence.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Very Quick Non-Update on Flapjaw

The class containing the jaw-flapping Flapjaw only met once last week, with Labor Day and all.

During that class Flapjaw was surprisingly quiet! He didn't cause me one speck of a problem, nor did he interrupt his fellow students.

Of course, he was absent.

As I stood outside in the hallway talking with another student after class, here comes Flapjaw, rushing by us to get into the now-darkened classroom. Back out he comes, perplexed and sweaty.

"Did I miss the abduction?" he says.

"Uh, what?" I say.

"The alien abduction. Where is everybody?"

"Class was at 2:00," I tell him.

"Oh NO!" He is very dismayed by his error.

I am dismayed because the deep-in-the-soul-happiness that brewed inside me when I suspected Flapjaw might have dropped the course, has now turned into cold coffee grounds in my heart.

He pulls out his paper to turn in to me. "I'm so sorry I missed class," Flapjaw flaps.

"It happens," I say. And dashed hopes also happen. And baby unicorns get backed over by cement trucks. Because Flapjaw has come back.

This Tuesday, regular class resumes. I shall report. Just after I'm allowed to make my one phone call.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Life in the Classroom

Remember the class with the atheist, the two Christians, and the pagan? (Sounds like the beginning of a joke.) Well, the pagan has dropped the class because of scheduling problems, the atheist has turned out to be an excellent writer, and there's a new horror in town.

Let's call him Flapjaw.

I'm going to just come out and tell you that I am so sick of Flapjaw's constant jabber in class that I am about to lose my shit. Not only does he feel compelled to comment on every single thing I say when I'm teaching, he wishes to answer each and every question I ask, and then he rambles off into so many tangents that if you tried to keep up with them, you would end up ramming your head up your own rectum, and face-butting your lungs like Herve Villechaize motorboating Nell Carter.

I have not "handled" Flapjaw yet. I will absolutely have to do this when that class resumes next Thursday. (Labor Day weekend means Monday off, and I've cancelled Tuesday's class. It meets T/Th.) I wasn't sure until today that Flapjaw was going to be such a nefarious presence in the classroom. Sure, he rambled during the previous class, but he raised his hand so I could at least reluctantly call on him when no one else would speak. But now he has tossed aside the ritual of the raised hand in favor of his own impromptu verbal stream of diarrhea. His favorite topics: his time in military school (what a surprise), his adventures working the front desk at some crappy we-just-need-an-hour motel, his time in military school, books he's read and found fascinating enough to attempt to recap the entire plots, oh, and his time in military school.

Wait, I forgot. One of his immersions into mental quicksand today was all about how "hotheaded religious people get when they argue." It was all wrapped into the smugness of an idiotic, pretentious, truly uninformed college student who would be better served if he were shackled into a dungeon and made to eat rat assholes for every meal. I stopped him just before I snapped and jumped across the big table we all sit gathered around. I have to admit that in my heart, my hands were already around his freckly neck and his too-large forehead was being pounded into the table like a jackhammer.

I will get you, Flapjaw. You've had 2 days of grace. No more. I can't believe I put up with this bullshit for two class periods. I was simply so stunned by your social ineptness that I couldn't speak. It was like watching a baby chick hatch. Look! Look at the miracle that is Flapjaw!