Quack! Quack! Waddle, waddle, waddle

11:13 pm · category: Body of Mine, Kids Are All Right, The

I spent the last two days at the Arkansas Scholastic Press Association annual convention. What could possibly make me spend two days in a hotel with 800 kids? Ummm, probably the free room at the Peabody Hotel. And even that’s not such a big deal, except that the soap in the bathroom and the butter at the banquet table are made out of little Peabody duck molds. Decapitating a duck at the dinner table — there’s something I thought my grandma and I would never have in common.

I have to admit that I went to the ASPA convention as a volunteer. The teacher in me is dying a slow death, and I like to be around young people. Sometimes you’re lucky enough to find teens who have a determination and passion that hasn’t been subdued by the reality of rejection, and that’s always a comforting and inspiring thing for me. That’s why I still moderate high school quiz bowl tournaments and work with the church youth group. Also, sometimes there are free cookies and soft drinks. But I’ll admit that I didn’t miss having to do room checks at curfew, nor was I burdened by worrying about whether or not my kids were being polite and using their manners or were drunk or high or getting naked in a stairwell with a member of the opposite sex.

Unfortunately, some idiot managed to pull a hotel fire alarm a little after 11:00 p.m., at which point I had already removed my swiftly drying contacts and shucked my clothes. I was lying in bed naked, eating the chocolates the housekeeping staff had left on my pillow and watching reruns of That 70′s Show while I pretended like I was part of some privileged, elite group. (Hey, I’d had my car valet parked. I was feeling pretty superior!) This sucked immensely, because I had to get dressed and then hang out in the corridor with a bunch of sugar-riddled teens while we waited for the all-clear to be given. This wouldn’t have been so bad, except that I’d forgotten to pack my glasses and was sans contacts. It turns out that I had managed to wrongly button my hastily donned shirt, and my eyes were totally bloodshot. I was slowly making my way down the hallway a la Helen Keller, running my fingers along the wall trying to find the stairwell. I guess I looked like I’d been toking hard in the privacy of my hotel room, because a teacher I knew found me and made me stay with her until we were allowed back in the rooms. Can you believe it? Seven years of taking kids all over the country, and I was put under the watchful eye of a former fellow educator because I appeared to be stoned. Reality bites, and irony often births humility.

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