Archive for July, 2005



Discombobulated, Part 8: Tiny Dancer

8:08 pm · category: Uncategorized

It is important to note at this point that I was once a preciously cute, locally famous dancer. When I was seven, I was cute as a button and could really cut a rug. I tapped and sang to the song Baby Face at a high school assembly. The lyrics to the song are as follows:

“Baby face! You’ve got the cutest little baby face!
No other one will ever take your place, baby face!”

I tapped my way across the stage and sang at the top of my lungs. It was a vaudeville-worthy performance. When I finished, I got a standing ovation. To this day, people I don’t know will approach me in public and say, “I remember when you were Baby Face! You were soooo cute!”

Before I was a locally famous dancer, Saraya Rogers, nee’ Klotz, was a preciously cute, locally famous dancer. Now we are both teachers in the same school system. After I hung up my taps, Allyn D. — Saraya’s niece — became a preciously cute, locally famous dancer.

Here’s some more irony for you: Allyn D. is now on my quiz bowl team.



Discombobulated, Part 7: Prom, Southern Style

7:46 pm · category: Uncategorized

A prom is a big social event near the end of the school year when high school kids dress up in fancy clothes. For some boys this is their first chance to feel a girl up, because they have to pin a big smelly flower on the girl’s fancy dress right over her boob. (Some people put the big smelly flower on a little wrist band so the boy doesn’t get to touch the girl’s boob. I’m pretty sure the Church of Christ invented the wrist corsage. But it might have been carnival promoters, because the wrist band looks just like the ones they pass out at the county fair so you can ride all the rides over and over again until you puke. I suppose it’s possible the carnies had an excess of wrist bands and needed to get rid of them. I don’t think many carnies are Church of Christ, though.)

After the boy gets to touch the girl’s boob, the couple has to take a bunch of pictures for their mom and dad. The mom has no idea whether or not her little girl got felt up for the first time when the boy pinned on the corsage, because parents are clueless. The dad stands with his arms crossed, making sure the boy doesn’t go for his daughter’s boob. Secretley, though, he’s remembering when he first felt the mom’s boob twenty years ago.

Then the couple goes out to eat, usually at WesterN SizzliN or Shoney’s. People in these parts think WesterN SizzliN and Shoney’s are upscale restaurants because you don’t place your order at the drive-thru and because nobody asks if you want fries with your selection. Kids don’t go to drive-thru restaurants on prom night because they know that the kids who couldn’t get dates are staffing the squawk box and are really bitter and will spit in their Cokes or worse.

At WesterN SizzliN (or Shoney’s), the kids realize everyone else in the restaurant is wearing shorts and tank tops. The couple is invariably seated near a family with 2.3 whining kids who start screaming for dessert before the glasses of free water hit the sticky tabletop. In other words, they sit by my peers. Even though the prom kids look foolishly out of place in their high heels and taffeta and tuxedos and cumberbunds and corsages and bouttineirs, everyone in the restaurant smiles when seeing the couple and whispers things like, “Aren’t they handsome!”, and “That’s so cute!” My peers, however, are actually thinking nothing of the sort. The woman is thinking, “I remember when my ass was that small.” Her husband is thinking, “I remember when my wife’s ass was that small.” Then one of their kids knocks his glass of free water over and the reverie is broken.

After the prom kids eat, they’re off to the actual prom, which is a big dance with cheap decorations in the school cafeteria. Even though the prom committee tries really hard to make you forget that you’re in the cafeteria and convince you that you’re in the French Quarter or on a tropical island or in a medieval castle or some equally exotic locale, you can still smell the French fries and loose meat sandwiches from yesterday’s lunch menu.

Because this big event takes place near the end of the school year, everyone becomes sentimental because it’s the last big function as a group before graduation. This sentimentality leads to people acting as though they’re really going to miss one another. In reality, they’re going to forget about most of their classmates in a matter of months and have trouble identifying the people with whom they spent thirteen years of their lives when they meet them in a check-out line at Wal-Mart in ten years.

I hated proms as a high school student. I had to go to four — count ‘em, four! — of these miserable functions. I never danced at any of them. I have no coordination. I was afraid my date and I would look like two cripples suffering simultaneous epileptic fits in a zero-gravity atmosphere.



Discombobulated, Part 6: It Begins

7:39 pm · category: Uncategorized

It all started with quiz bowl. I fell into the game when I started my first teaching job in the town of Brinkley in the Arkansas Delta. I asked to coach the team because I figured if I volunteered to do something, the administration wouldn’t make me responsible for something I didn’t want to do.

No such luck. They put me in charge of the prom.



Discombobulated, Part 5: Trading Wedding Bells for School Buses

7:35 pm · category: Uncategorized

In addition to being obsessive, I am cowardly and lazy. I therefore haven’t done much to find a husband. Since I haven’t channeled my energies into seeking wedded bliss, I had, you see, too much time on my hands.

Which is why I fell in love with my kids.



Discombobulated, Part 4: Home Is Where WHAT Is?

7:13 pm · category: Uncategorized

It should be obvious at this point that I’m programmed to act obsessively, because I still ocasionally dwell on the insipid details of these silly people’s lives. Because I fell in love with that roommate, and because he was scared shitless and ran off to marry an eighteen-year-old girl with burgundy hair, my psyche got all knotted up. I began to worry that there was something wrong with me because I was twenty-five and single. I was convinced I could hear my biological clock tick-tick-ticking away.

It’s no wonder I felt this way. My peers – that is, people my age with whom I’m supposed to share certain ideals, values and experiences – had all married and had children, although not necessarily in that order.

When we really were peers – when we actually shared certain ideals and values – we all wanted to get degrees and make something of ourselves and get the hell out of Dodge. In our cases, “Dodge” was Bald Knob.

Now my peers have spouses and 2.3 kids and a sad old dog lying underneath the unsecured underpinning of their doublewides in the town where the Ozarks meet the Delta*.

I teach eighth grade English at my alma mater and live with my parents.

Talk about irony!

*”Where the Ozarks meet the Delta” is Bald Knob’s town slogan. If one stands in the middle of town and looks east, one can clearly see the flat plains of the Delta. And if one stands in the same spot and looks north, one can clearly see the foothills of the Ozark Mountains. Bald Knob used to be the Strawberry Capital of the World, but then a draught in the early 1980s resulted in Chadbourn, North Carolina, garnering said distinction. All Bald Knob is known for now is this. (Which is silly, because it’s a watermelon that looks like a pickle. But the Basingers, who own the produce market, are good people.)



Discombobulated, Part 3: Vicious Circle

7:10 pm · category: Uncategorized

Even though I’m inexperienced and lack wisdom, I know a lot about irony. In what feels like a lifetime ago, a girl who had once been my best friend had once been engaged to a wonderful guy. When they broke up, he married a girl whom he later divorced when he caught her in bed with another man. The girl who once was my best friend married the man with whom her ex-fiancee caught his wife committing an act of adultery. Then I moved in with him, but just as a roommate.

In the immortal words of the Eagles, “What a tangled web we weave/Round with circumstance.”

You could call this a vicious circle.

It’s still ironic.



Discombobulated, Part 2: Cracking, Bleeding, Flaking

6:45 pm · category: Uncategorized

At twenty-seven, I am programmed to act obsessively. This is because I am a product of my environment. That’s sort of like saying, “You are what you eat,” except it has much broader implications.

Whether or not humans are products of their environment or genetics has been a raging debate for 300 years. John Locke, the eminent English philosopher of the seventeenth century, said humans are born as tabula rasas; that is, as “blank slates.” Scientists who study human behavior call this debate one of nature versus nurture. I don’t know why scientists are always trying to solve issues that are clearly philosophical. You’d think they’d have better things to do, like find a cure for cancer or figure out why people’s skin suddenly starts cracking and bleeding and flaking off.

My skin suddenly started cracking and bleeding and flaking off. Some scientists, who are called medical doctors, haven’t been able to figure out why.

According to these same scientists, I have a violent allergy to sulfa drugs, cannot become immune to chicken pox, and am genetically predisposed to skin cancer.

One year ago, one of those scientists said I might be bipolar. I laughed out loud when he said it. Then I went home and cried.

More irony.



Discombobulated, Part 1: Isn’t It Ironic?

6:41 pm · category: Uncategorized

I am writing this as a present ot myself. I have no illusions of the final product being anything worth reading. I was taught that one should write what one knows. I am a little over a quarter-century old. I don’t know much.

I don’t mean that I’m stupid. I mean that I lack experience and wisdom. The fact that I would bother putting this to paper in the first place only points to my lack of experience and wisdom.

This is what English teachers call “irony.” The textbook definition of irony is “the difference between appearance and reality.” What the hell does that mean? I’m an English teacher, but I don’t get it.

That is another example of irony.



I’m Outta Here

6:32 pm · category: Uncategorized

Tonight is my last night in my home. My parents came today to pack up my things and cart the big stuff to a storage building. I’m staying here tonight so I can pack up the last little bit and do some deep, deep cleaning.

After today, I probably won’t have internet access for quite some time. In the meantime, I’ve decided to give you a little something to chew on. The next few posts are something I wrote a little over four years ago, when I was still teaching. It starts off as a total rip-off of Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions in tone, style, and sometimes even paragraphs. I make no apologies for that.