Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Awesome Power of Pasta

We had some family over for dinner the other night. We were eating spaghetti. As I was dishing up a plateful I wanted to show my appreciation and said, “This looks awesome,” to which my sister-in-law replied, “Eating spaghetti is awesome.” I was immediately intrigued by the notion that ones social aptitude or level of “coolness” could be gauged by the quantity of spaghetti one consumed. Convinced that this must be a true principle, (partly because my sister-in-law is staunchly honest and partly because it just felt right), I decided to perform an experiment and put it to the test. I ate as much spaghetti as I could without vomiting. The following is a log of the first day’s trial.

6:55 am
I got up, went into the kitchen, and pointedly declined the waffles, sausage, and eggs my wife had prepared stating “those food items would only stifle my awesomeness,” and promptly pushed my plate onto the floor. As the plate shattered, sending glass and food in all directions, my wife and I looked at each other in shock. It seems my faith was baring fruit, as I was already acting more awesome. No one could deny that tossing my food on the floor like an angst-filled teen was anything if not awesome. “Hell yes” I said, “I’m havin’ BU-SKETY for B-Fast YO! Make some!” My wife walked out in tears obviously unable to handle my high level of awesome. I wanted to comfort her but restrained myself when I reasoned that the only thing that could help her now was more spaghetti.

7:21 am
After eating leftover spaghetti I split (left) for work. On the way I tuned the radio to a rap station, which I felt spoke to me on a profoundly awesome level. I was in the middle of busting a tight rhyme when some uptight cracker cut me off. Typically, I would have taken it like a spineless Nancy, but now that I was awesome I scooted to the center of the car, rolled down the windows, steered with my knee, and sped past the offending cracker with both hands extended out either side of the car flipping the biggest, most awesome birds I have ever flipped. I was on top of the world.

9:10 am
Five minutes into my second class I’m still sitting in my chair with my feet on my desk. I’m already tired of teaching for the day. The students’ just stare at me. Then one asks, “Mr. Quinn? Are we going to learn any history today?” I just looked at him for a minute contemplating what I might say. And then I spoke. “History schmistory.”
The students all laughed.

10:42 am
It was time to refuel so I leave school early to take an extended lunch and decide to cruise down to Olive Garden. “I’ll have the all you can eat spaghetti platter.”
“We don’t have an all you can eat spaghetti platter.” The waitress explained.
“What did you say?”
“We don’t have an all you can eat spaghetti platter.” She repeated with deliberation.
“What did YOU SAY?!”
“I said we DO NOT have an all you can eat spaghetti platter!”
“Sir, I’m sorry. We don’t offer an all you can eat platter. Can I get you something else?”
“I’ll talk to the kitchen and see what I can do.”
I got the all you can eat spaghetti platter. My powers of persuasion are becoming increasingly proficient. Awesome.

2:45 pm
Upon my return to school I am informed I have been fired for sloughing. “I thought you could only get detention for sloughing” I protested.
“If you’re a student you get detention. If you’re a teacher you get fired.” They informed me.
“That’s a double standard.”
“Well, we hold teachers to a higher standard than students.”
“That’s what she said.” Point, set, match. No one recovers from a “that’s what she said.” My principal was probably reeling from the retort.
“What?” she asked.
“Never mind.”
“No, I want to understand you. That’s what who said about what?”
“I said never mind.”
“Just tell me what you meant.” She persisted.
“Just forget it. It’s been too long now so it won’t even be funny.”
We just stared at each other for a minute. Then I walked up to within one inch of my principal. I grabbed her face and kissed her long and hard. “Am I fired now?”
“Yes. And I’m calling the police.”
“Your mom’s calling the police.”
“Oh geez. Never mind.”

3:15 pm
I’ve cleared my stuff from my classroom but can’t go home yet lest my wife catch wise to my new employment status. But now that I’m awesome and not a teacher I want my car to reflect that fact so I stop into a car accessories shop to purchase some stickers of Calvin, from Calvin and Hobbes, peeing on stuff. I hit the jackpot. I bought one of Calvin peeing on the Chevrolet logo but since I wasn’t sure what car company built my car I also bought one of him peeing on the Ford logo. I got one of Calvin peeing on George Bush, Osama bin Laden, the Taliban, Hillary Clinton, Hollywood, Irish Dancing, Mexico, Mac Computers, Lindsey Lohan, Smokers, Ex-Wife, Ex-Boyfriend, My Step Kids, Al Gore, Polar Bears, Global Warming, Michael Moore, Socialism, and France. I bought some of him peeing on acronyms like NRA, PETA, MADD, and NAACP. I even bought some that didn’t really make sense but still looked awesome like Calvin peeing on Polio, Kermit the Frog (a dead, limp looking version), Orphans, Caribou, a human fetus, Spina Bifida, and a sticker that had two Calvins peeing on each other. Needless to say I stuck all these on the back window of my car to show my high level of awesome.

4:25 pm
I’m on the road heading home with the window down, arm hanging out, spitting occasionally just for the H of it. I feel as light as the ether now that I’m free from the bonds of slave labor. I decide to open up the ol’ Prizm all the way and push it up to 60. Just then I notice the fuzz on my tail. I decide to pull over and play it awesome. He approaches my window.
“Do you know why I pulled you over?”
“I ain’t sayin’ nothin’.”
“What?” asked the cop.
“I ain’t sayin’ nothin’.”
“I pulled you over because it’s illegal to completely obstruct the view through your back window with decals or anything else for that matter. It’s not safe.”
“You got a warrant copper?” I ask. And the look on his face when he realizes I know law stuff is priceless.
“I don’t need a warrant to pull you over. Can I see your license and registration please?”
“Where’s my lawyer?" I push.
“I don’t have clue where your lawyer is.”
“Well I know my rights so you can stick it pork chop.”
“Watch the insults!” Says the cop.
“Is this some kind of screw job? I’ve been framed.”
“What are you talking about?”

5:15 pm
After I was arrested and put in jail I started to get hungry.
“Hey piggy!” I yelled to the nearest cop. “When’s chow?”
He started to walk closer and explained that they don’t provide meals, and that I could eat when someone came and bailed me out. Then I noticed his nametag read “Fabrezio” and got excited.
“Hey Guido, do you think you could score me some spaghetti?!” I asked.
“What did you call me?” He said as he walked toward my cell.
“No need to get bent out of shape Corleon. I’m with you, so get me some spaghetti.”
“I already told you we don’t serve meals.”
I could tell this situation was going to call for higher powers of persuasion.

7:40 am (the next morning)
“Hey Ben. Ben, wake up.”
From a sleepy stupor I wake to the prodding sound of my wife’s voice. My eyelids flutter and I notice I’m lying in a small pool of my own blood. “What time is it?” I ask.
“It’s seven forty.”
It’s amazing how soundly you can sleep when you’ve been Billy-clubbed to the face. My wife informs me that I’ve behaved like certain parts of the body, which are found below the waist, and then bails me out. At the booking window I collect my things and bid farewell to all the law dogs.
“So long coppers. See you next time.”
“I hope there’s not a next time.” says one of the cops behind the counter.
“That’s what your mom said.” I said wryly.
A bunch of cops laughed.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Book of Real History, Chap. 1

So I got that teaching job I said I was looking for back in March (The Burden of an Education). For a poverty level paycheck I still can’t believe how demanding teaching high school can be. (That’s right, high school. I was also offered teaching positions at two different junior high schools, but I decided early adolescents was someplace that, psychologically speaking, I could not venture.) I spend my extra time trying to stay one day ahead of the students as we are covering 20th Century history this year and my exposure to said field was cursory at best. And so I feel like I am just as much a student as I am a teacher. Since August I have been on the edge of my seat with shock and awe as I have investigated the past like some kind of explorer.

Assuming that most American high school graduates left school with the same sheltered/half-truth education that I did, I feel it a duty as an educator to shine the light of truth where there has previously been darkness, especially on the lesser known tidbits from our collective pasts. Let this be the first of those entries.

Did you know that the most famous duel in history is laced with irony? The duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr really had nothing to do with politics or slander. What most history books fail to mention is that while the two statesmen were heavily involved in American politics they were also in a bluegrass band together and they both played the banjo. It was called “The Burilton Mountain Pickers” and they enjoyed traveling around the colonies playing family parties, barn dances, and various church functions. One of their most popular tunes was a little ditty they wrote together called “Competing Banjos.” The song was written to be an equal opportunity for the two virtuosos to display their picking prowess but Hamilton, who was kind of a showboat, insisted on taking an extended solo to end the song. Burr tried to express his frustration but was stymied by his band-mate’s pompous indifference when Hamilton told him to “Blow it out your butt.” Burr, at wits end from the constant upstaging by his musical compatriot, held his rage in until their next performance when right at the climax of Hamilton’s final solo, at the end of “Competing Banjos”, Burr bludgeoned Hamilton over the head with his banjo fatally wounding Alex and putting an end to “The Burilton Mountain Pickers.” Coincidentally, the name of the song was later changed to “Dueling Banjos” which only helped perpetuate the myth that an actual “duel” took place.