FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL
Giggly Student: Do you know who Run DMC is?
Giggly Student: (turning to friends) See, I told you he had to be over 30. He knows who Run DMC is.
Me: Are you over 30?
Giggly Student: No.
Me: I think your logic is flawed.
2 hours later
Giggly Student #2: Do you know about 8 tracks?
Giggly Student #2: You've gotta be over 30 then?
Me: Do you know about 8 tracks?
Giggly Student #2: Yeah, because of my mom.
Me: Maybe I know about 8 tracks because of my mom.
Giggly Student #2: You're not over 30?
The student with strawberry-blonde hair, pale complexion, and jeans too short they fall an inch above her bright pink tennis shoes, paces back and forth on her toes in front of my desk, like some sort of exotic zoo animal; a modified ostrich. When I finally look up, she flashes a big smile gleaming with metal.
"Do you want to see my drawings?" she asks, eager for an audience.
To decline would kill her. She drops a binder on my desk filled with drawings and character biographies and backstory.
"There's six of them. They're all 12, and they live in a small Montana town. I've never been to Montana. I've never even been out of Michigan, so I had to do all sorts of research. See -" She pulls out a satellite image of Montana.
"Uh huh," I say.
"These kids live normal middle school lives, until one day, they fall through a wormhole and end up on this planet Gorgonzole, which brings out their special powers they must use in order to stop an evil ruler and get back home. This character, Torza, is modeled off my dad. See -" She points to an anime-style picture that resembles no human I know.
She flips through the pages, and when she gets to the end, she starts flipping in reverse. I'm surely the most attentive audience she's ever had. I notice that every character stands 5'2".
The bell rings and it's hard for her to let me go. I grab my belongings and cruise out the door. She chases after me clutching the binder in one hand and her bookbag in the other. She wants to know when I'm subbing next. I say I don't know and wish her luck in one day traveling outside the state of Michigan.
The next day, strawberry-blonde-aspiring-George Lucas finds me in the hallway. She presses something into my hand - a crumpled piece of paper containing various questions.
"I want to base one of the characters on you," she says.
I debate whether it'd be a terrible idea to satisfy her eccentricity. Sample questions include: Favorite genre of movies; favorite sport; preferred computer activities; style of dress; day or nighttime person.
"Do I have to be 5'2"?" I ask.
She looks confused. "I guess not," she says.
"Let me get back to you."
I walk into the teachers lounge for lunch. My mind is preoccupied with one student in particular, Roger. I had him in two classes throughout the morning and he was atrocious. Apparently I look drained, because the football coach, Mr. Roop, demands names. "Spit out the culprits," he says.
In truth, there had been several difficult students responsible for sucking the pep right out of my step; but Roger's name is clearly at the forefront. And when I say it, Mr. Roop cuts me off.
"Say no more," he says. "That's all one needs to know. Roger Muss is a Grade A ass-clown. He's a despicable little runt and you don't get paid enough to deal with turds like him. Hell, I don't get paid enough to deal with turds like him."
Everyone present issues a corroborating "Hear, hear," and I realize adults are no better than kids.
Five minutes until class starts. The first student enters. When the second student enters moments later, the first student exclaims: "Avery, I beat you for the eleventh million time!"
Avery looks at him and replies: "We haven't been in 8th grade that long."
In 6th hour, a student pops his classmate's zit and eats the whitehead for a pool of money amounting to $2.64. I try and stop him without success, then wonder if in a court of law I could be tried for contributing to the delinquency of minors.
The bell rings and I collect my belongings. Another student approaches me.
"That's Nautica, right?" he asks, referring to my shirt.
"Yeah," I say, looking down to make sure.
"You know that brand is racist? It is. I read it somewhere. Something to do with the slave ships."
"I didn't know that."
"Well now you know."
Later on I do some google research and find no credible support for his statements. I do find an interesting Maya Angelou poem highlighting corporate racism.