Her message to me:
HEY MR. P, ITS JULIA IN YOUR 5TH PERIOD CLASS, I WANTED TO APOLOGIZE FOR WHAT I SAID TODAY IN CLASS, I FEEL I DISRESPECTED YOU.She sent it Friday afternoon. It's now Sunday evening. And I just checked my email. And my initial thought is: What is she talking about?
I have no idea.
Whatever it was, she felt it was important enough to send an apology. What could it have been? Did she say something inappropriate? Ask a rude question? Respond in a sarcastic way? For the life of me, I don't remember. But since she apologized, I have to remember ...
Let's see ... 5th period Friday. ACT review. Strategies practice. Think-aloud of a passage. No real opportunities for someone to say anything horrible ...
Hmm ... what were the passages about? Something boring. All ACT passages are boring. Why are they so boring? If they were interesting, maybe students wouldn't fall asleep taking the darned test. Oh yeah, one of the passages was about some Japanese guy climbing a mountain. The next one was about ... something college students do, some college tradition like stuffing people in a Volkswagen Beetle.
Did we end up talking about college life? Possibly. I often get side-tracked by college talk. Thing is, so few of my students have any first- or even second-hand knowledge of what happens in college, that it's my job to inform them. I tell them about being able to schedule your own classes, so you get to choose what time of day works best for you. About applications and financial aid. About being able to go to the bathroom without asking for permission. About lecture halls. About Frisbee. Anything and everything they've never experienced.
Oh yeah!!! Wow, now I remember. And she was a little rude. But hilarious. And I totally forgot about it:
I don't know how we got on the topic, but someone said something like, "Everyone always thinks about sex," and I said something like, "Well, maybe teenagers do," and someone said, "You used to be a teenager," and I said, "Yeah, used to be. Now my thoughts are pure." Something like that. A total throwaway conversation, something meaningless that no one would ever remember.
But then Julia said, "Well, that explains why you're single!"
I said, "What's that supposed to mean?"
And she said, "The only thing girls think about nowadays is sex. And if your thoughts are pure, you're boring."
And the whole class said, "Ooooh!"
She continued, "And no one wants to be with some boring guy."
A throwaway conversation, one I should have avoided. One I should have nipped in the bud. One that would have embarrassed me a few years back. But that was then, this is now, so instead of quickly changing the subject or threatening to write her up or blushing, I looked at her and said, "Who said anything about me being single?"
Another "ooooh!" from the class.
"You did," Julia said. "That one time you asked if our mothers were single!"
Wow, that's something I said at the beginning of the year. A stupid joke, with this punchline: "Can you imagine calling me Dad?" But people remember the stupidest things. In fact, I often wonder if students ever hear anything important I say. Anything about writing or literature or college life. It seems like they don't. Ever. They sure don't take notes. But a stupid joke, that's what they remember.
And now that I remember that stupid conversation from Friday I need to remember to yell at her about it tomorrow.