It’s true! Clearly, dear readers, you have been neglecting your charity work this holiday season. Why not take some time out of your leisurely, Recession-era shopping (“That’ll be one value meal an, uh, 14 Hardee’s Coupons — whoops! I mean FIFTEEN. Almost forgot Aunt Gladys.”) and volunteer to help idiots at your local university study for finals? It’s what the baby Jesus, surely, would want you to do. Or the Hanukkah Troll. Either way, soon, you too can be having conversations like this:
“Ok, so the Final is going to cover both World Wars, through the Cold War and into Modern politics?” I ask guilelessly.
“Yer.” I am no longer to be rewarded with actual words, my students just mumble unintelligible things one might hear from a hobo camp after Thunderbird has made a few generous rounds.
“Alright. Give me the dates of World War II.” I sighed, wishing I was allowed to make my kids write my Christmas cards for me as penance.
“Whut?” *THWACK* “Hey! My ipod!”
“Suck it, doucher. Dates. World War II*.” The ipod is surreptitiously placed under my pile of Christmas cards because, yes, I bring them to work with me, so that the guilt never ends.
“I don’t fucking know.” Sulks.
“Well, then fucking guess, please.” I begin tapping a pen rather viciously on the pile under which his ipod rests. *WHAPATA-WHAPATA-WHAPATA*
Eyeing my pen nervously, finally, the Mayor of Corky town speaks: “Maybe, I don’t know, 1864?” Pen ceases.
Pictured: The Battle of Gettysburg
“What? That’s… towards the end of the CIVIL War. No, ok. Tell you what. Let’s go back to the 1st World War. When was the Arch-duke Ferdinand assassinated?” I would have been alarmed a year ago, now I’m just TIRED. Teaching is like wandering into a swamp of despair these days, sans map, torch or extra dog to eat when the going gets rough. Jack London would have loved this shit.
“Man, I don’t know. Weren’t we in the middle of the Great Depression?”
“In 1914?” I ask, just trying to measure the depth of his stupidity by rubbing my eyelids until they feel ready to flake right the fuck off. “No, though arguably, the subsequent Prohibition of the 20’s was probably damn near the most depressing shit we’ve ever done as a nation.” I bark out a laugh, wishing I was allowed to drink on the job, something those Prohibition assholes are probably responsible for me NOT doing.
“The … whut?” He asked, finally taking notes and mangling the spelling of “prohibition”: “pro-homission.”
“The… Prohibition. You know, when no one was allowed to buy alcohol for like 10 years?” I mean, surely college students, at least, are still shocked into memorizing this terrible time in American history. He squints at me, like maybe it’s poor vision that is forcing him to LEARN THINGS.
“You lying.” He stated simply, kicking back in his chair. “Where would all the alcohol go?” A fair point, even from an idiot who confuses Grant’s Wilderness Tour for a Nazi Death March.
“Well, I mean, some people could still get it. That was when we had the birth of the Mob. And moon-shiners.” I said, trying to back-pedal and figure out where to begin.
“So, see? It wasn’t really gone. You’re just making shit up.” He determined, smugly satisfied.
“What?! Why would I make up the Prohibition? What possible motivation would I have in teaching you about a fake historical — you know what? Nevermind. What are you writing your paper on for this class?” The last words come up muffled from where my head has descended into the pile of Christmas cards as I try to eat my way through the table and into a safe place of clear insanity, where I might be allowed to live in a clean hospital with no students, puttering about the grounds harmlessly unaware of the Prohibition.
“Oh, man. My paper is gonna be LEGIT.” [Kids are saying ‘legit’ again? I feel like I’m in the 6th grade, dancing to “Too Legit to Quit.” It’s disconcerting.] Also, this particular child is a white kid, and from a less-than-credible Southern state’s public school system, so maybe he’s just retarded.
“Well, good!” I say, doubtful.
“Imma comparing the Lindbergh baby with that move, Taken. Hey, where you goin?? We need to talk about fucking World War I and the space race, man.”
Too late. If I can’t drink on the job, maybe I can start drinking in my car.
Happy Holidays, troops. Just remember, even in line to buy BP gas cards as gift in the midst of this Recession, at least the Hanukkah Troll hasn’t cursed you with teenagers in the throes of finals week.
* Seriously, I had this conversation on the anniversary of Pearl Harbor. It makes me wish my husband’s high school janitor was around.**
** In high school, Husband got a petition signed for everyone to observe a moment of silence in memory of John Lennon. Later, he was accosted, roughed up and threatened by the head Janitor, a mild man named Marcus whom Husband insisted on calling “Tony,” for reasons best left to the high school boy idea of humor. “Tony” shook my lanky punk husband around for a minute, telling him that he had some nerve, getting a moment of silence for that dirty hippy when his brother had died in WWII and no one had a moment of silence for Pearl Harbor. I know. Neither one of us have shit for luck with janitors.