Sunday, October 31, 2010

I Used To Have Two Rosebushes

Goats really like rosebushes. Really.

They find the roses quite tasty.

Red, pink, yellow...the flavor doesn't matter to the goat.

Goats really like rosebushes. REALLY.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Camera In The Hand Is Worth A Bird In The Car

I did not post anything last night because I was not having a good day. I am sure Mabel is incensed that I had a whole day off from school, and still could not manage to write something on her own personal blog. Mabel will have to get over it.

Friday dawned dark and early, when Farmer H made sure I was awake when he left for work at 6:00. No need for me to catch any extra ZZZZs just because I had a day off work. No siree, Bob!

The Pony and I set out to collect the #1 son from his grandma's house, where he had spent the night after watching hockey. Darn that Dish Network and their withholding of Fox Sports Midwest, home of the Blues. At least it has been restored since yesterday. Once in town, I traded The Pony for #1.

#1 son and I stopped by the bank to reset the PIN on his bank card. That was a comedy of errors, necessitating three trips around the building to shove that slacker card into the ATM and be told that the transaction could not be processed. I'm glad we walked instead of driving, though I felt bad that cars had to wait in line for us pedestrians. The problem was that the card was not yet activated, which I couldn't do because I didn't have a PIN, which couldn't be reset until the card was activated. I'm buying it a watch fob for Christmas, and hoping for some hair combs.

From the bank, we T-Hoed over to another town to pay the Mansion payment, and to a Devil's Playground to pick up the new camera that #1 has been saving for. Of course The Devil was fresh out of expensive cameras. We did, however, snag a phone for The Pony. The lady who sold it to us was a complete nincompoop, but acknowledged such in her tirade against The Devil. I felt her pain. She whined to her co-worker, a young man much more electronic-savvy than she, "People don't know what it's like to look like an idiot." Au contraire. I told her, "Um, I pretty much do it every day. In fact, it's kind of expected of me."

After calling around to many different Devils, #1 realized that his camera dream had been squashed. The Devil keeps one on the display shelf, but does not stock it, apparently. It's some kind of Canon Rebel T2i fancy schmancy doohickey. The only place he found one was at Creve Coeur Camera, and Mrs. Hillbilly Mom was not driving to the city on her day off.

Sonic made me wait in line for 10 minutes for my free Route 44 Diet Coke with Lime. You'd think they would have waived that free receipt and given me one on the house for my trouble. But no. They must have been taking lessons from The Devil. My very special waitress was not there, or she would have set things right. The dudes are clueless. They'll never get a tip from me.

This day followed a bad evening after conferences Thursday night, when 7-11 held me hostage for about 20 minutes. I waited in line for gas, for two cars to move away from the pumps. The drivers had come out of the store and were sitting in the cars. One finally left, so I wove my way like a blindfolded psychic through the tight confines of the parking lot, narrowly escaping a ramming from a big red Dodge pickup who thought he could back up at will with no consideration for wending blindfolded psychics. That pump-blocker sat in his car and watched me cut in and maneuver my T-Hoe toward his front bumper and the pumps. That mystery was solved when I went in to pay, and got stuck in line behind his woman, who was jawing about lottery tickets.

At the next stoplight, waiting to make a left, a guy in front of me sat through 30 of the 60 seconds of our arrow. I honked to steer his attention from texting to turning, and he went all hillbilly passive-aggressive on me, flipping me the bird and then inching through that intersection at the speed of salt-sizzling slug. Some people! I was doing him a favor, actually, by honking instead of jumping out of T-Hoe to beat the living snot out of him.

Which brings us back to Friday, and the rest of the afternoon, in which #1 pouted like a baby robbed of candy, because he wasn't getting the camera he had already counted before it hatched. His cousin who drives him to the city sometimes was in Cape Girardeau for the day, and I decreed that he was NOT going to ask his grandma to take him.

Even Steven smiled on the boy, though. Farmer H was finagled into taking him, upon arriving home from the near-city where he works. I don't even demand a Stevening for myself. It makes me happy when my kids are happy.

But not enough to drive one to the city.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Scathingly Brilliant Idea

After two evenings of Parent Conferences this week, I am feeling a bit sore. Because a genius in the maintenance department went around last year installing light switches that turn themselves off after 10 minutes of no motion, I must move constantly about my classroom. Like shark must keep swimming or die. Except it's not so easy to actually kill Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. Though she can be made mighty uncomfortable by newfangled technology.

My desk, you see, had to be moved this year. I now sit in the back corner of the room, enclosed in an open fortress. That's where all the wires that bring life to my laptop, wifi, projector, printer, dvd, vcr, sound box thingy, and telephone drop down from the ceiling. Not in a tasteful, conduit kind of way. I mean they drop down through a hole in the ceiling tile, like vines in the rain forest, and dangle over the table which holds my electronic accoutrements. On the table, they entwine themselves into knots and filigree, coiled and ready to strike. It's a big freakin' eyesore. But that's not what I'm here to complain about tonight.

My classroom light goes off while I work at my desk. It is a distraction, and a hindrance, in the evening hours, when the sun begins to set. Just when I'm whizzing along in the grading of papers, or entering columns of scores from my old red gradebook, the light goes off. I've tried waving my arms. I've tried standing up. My classroom lights do not respond. They, like the rest of the world, ignore me. I must transform myself into a squeakier wheel. If I take two threatening steps away from my desk, toward the front of the room, the lights come on. Sounds simple, you say? "Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, why don't you just stand up and feint toward the light every ten minutes? That would solve your problem." Yes. But it would create another problem with my creaky arthritic old-lady knees. All that hopping up and down like a rousing cake-walk game of musical chairs would cripple Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.

In the two evenings of conferences, I discovered a new solution. Short of tracking down that dim light dim bulb and beating the pulp out of him, I devised a system to turn on the light AND keep me out of the crossbars Hilton.

If I lean way over in my rolly chair, and hold a sheaf of paper dug out of the printer in my right hand, and wave it in a wide, circular motion--the light comes on. Yep. All it takes is a bit of contortion from Mrs. HM. I feel like Martin Short and Harry Shearer doing their synchronized swimming routine on the old SNL during the years when it was painfully unfunny. I'm like a spritely Asian tween cavorting to please the international judging panel in the gold medal round of rhythmic gymnastics, tumbling and twirling a ribbon on a stick. If this teaching career thing doesn't pan out, I might make it as a signal flag dude on a top gun aircraft carrier.

Why does teaching have to be so hard?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

On The Outside Of The Loop, Looking In

Fresh from her four-hour live show at Newmentia's Parent Conference last evening, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is now ready to be interviewed by the local press:

LP: Did you have a large audience?

HM: They were normal size. Nobody needed to take a chainsaw to the side of their mobile home to facilitate their trip to my show. There were only five of them, though. With seven students to discuss.

LP: Enough of the business jargon. Let's get to the meat and potatoes of this interview. How was the evening meal?

HM: Let me expound on this subject at length. I am not a fan of the House of Greasy Beijing Great China Wall. I asked Mabel to recommend an entree. I know that Mabel would never steer me wrong. I appreciate all she does for me. I appreciate her invitation to join her and her new best friends for an evening of fine dining in the Newmentia cafeteria. But it is here that our tastes diverge.

What Mabel may not realize is that at least four people poked their paws into our Shrimp and Broccoli with Straw Mushrooms. It was an unfulfilled feeding frenzy in the teacher workroom. "Where is mine, where is mine?" The faculty milled around that table like a multibodied dog chasing its tail. "I don't know my number. What is my number?" Never mind that only TWO meals had a number, number 36, the meals of Mabel and Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. Which made me want to say, "If you didn't order by a number, then your food will not have a number on its carton!!!" PennyP herself opened our cartons twice. Like the food in them might have changed between times. Or not realizing that some type of sauced breaded chicken pieces looks nothing like shrimp, broccoli, and mushrooms. No matter how many times you peep at it. I finally had to hiss sharply at PennyP, "Would you please stop fingering Mabel's and my food?"

Upon entering the cafeteria, to which I had been invited by special Mabel invitation, I saw that only one table was occupied. NotACook and Headshrink sat on opposite sides. Two spaces were taken by a drink and a food carton. Recognizing Mabel's beverage, I chose a seat across from it, next to NotACook. We go way back.

Because the food had soaked in grease spilled from the food, I went back to my room for some paper towels. I returned to find PennyP had shoved my stuff over and pulled in a chair. When I went to sit down, PennyP and NotACook humped their chairs away from me like I was going to leprosize them, or maybe chomp off one of their pinky fingers in a spate of unchecked gluttony.

Dinner conversation turned to ridiculing people who attended college classes with some of us. Just because they might have no teeth, or speak hillbilly grammar, does not mean that they are unemployable. According to my aunt, one of the guests at our very table is a witch who dresses out of the ragbag and talks like an illiterate. So it seemed a bit mean-spirited to make fun of people who were at least enrolled and attending college. It's not like they were slurping off the teat of humanity, laying around the shanty and getting a good buzz on. The next topic was students who stink, another round of mean-spirited bad-mouthing, in my opinion. Times are tough. Maybe there's not enough money for deodorant or soap, after the parents dole out that dollar for soda to go with the free lunch every day. The custodian says he has kids asking him for toilet paper to take home, and he has to tell them that it's not worth losing his job.

It's a wonder I even heard the conversation. On my right was NotACook, who was also NotAChineseEater. She had, as memory serves me, two burritos and two orders of cinnamon twists, after persuading someone to run to the border for her. I like her. I really do. But she was chowing down like a stallion chewing the wood off his stall door. Like a hippopotamus pulverizing styrofoam pancakes. On the other side, I had PennyP bemoaning how she ate too much (after two bites), and opening and closing that carton to nibble again and again until it was all gone.

I tried several times to contribute to some less offensive topics. Apparently, I do not fit in. Each time I spoke, there was the sound of crickets not even chirping. Silence. They stared at me like I was a toothless hillbilly in a teacher education class. Apparently, I am out of the loop. Farther out than Inman, on his Civil War odyssey, taking one step forward and two steps back on his way to Cold Mountain and Ada Monroe. I am not used to such abuse. My lunch buddies welcome me. Or at least tolerate me. Mr. S even listens to me, when he's not busy talking. I would have been better off sitting at the newly-populated man's table. I may or may not have let one single Indian garbage tear slide down my cheek on the way home.

LP: Well, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, it's a shame you can't tell us how you really feel.

HM: Yes. I'm the kind to keep this sort of stuff bottled up inside me until I explode.

LP: Too bad you can't start a blog to let the crazy out.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

In Absentia

I am not here. Not here, I tell you! Stop talking to your monitor like I can hear you. I am at Parent Conference Night. Not for my own children. They are parentless on conference nights. Teachers are not allowed to be parents. We work selflessly for the future of our nation. Just not for our own futures.

Oh, we are allowed a few minutes to dash off to other buildings to make the appearance of conferencing. But we don't actually get to conference. The teachers slap you on the back in the good ol' boy way and joke about how it's a shame that your kid can only get A s and whatnot. Then they give you the bum's rush because HELLO they were in the middle of a game of trivia or listening to music or making fun of someone playing the dulcimer and singing America the Beautiful or eating supper that was delivered at 3:30. So you have to go on back to your own building and do the same.

Parents only show up when the food arrives. It doesn't matter if you sit down at 3:30 in an effort to miss the 5:00 after-work rush. They have a nose for food, and they follow that wafting aroma right up the road and into the building and to your table and say, "Oh. I didn't mean to interrupt your supper." Like they hadn't planned that all along.

Then there will be a long dry spell just like the long dry spell between the parents who show up before school is even over and the supper sniffers. The last-minute rush will begin around 6:45, because parents know that we can leave at 7:00 IF all the parents are out of the building. It's a passive-aggressive-fest.

But I DO enjoy my job. I have a built-in audience for my stand-up routine. The favorite gag so far this year has been grand theft calculator. Closely followed by, "You may be rule breakers, but you're not ruler breakers."

The school year is almost over, you know. 25% down, 75% to go. And it's getting closer to snow day season, by cracky!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Somebody Is Cranky After Walking All The Way To The Back Of The Store To Buy The Pony A Sprint Phone That Is No Longer Carried By The Merchant

I grow more annoyed with The Devil each day. Is it too much to ask that you can push a cart down the aisle without having to back up an entire department if somebody else comes your way? What's with putting displays down the middle of the aisles? If two carts can't pass, it impedes progress.

Shopping at The Devil's Playground is an exercise in futility. The Devil has a crappy selection of crap made by toddlers in third world nations that cost 50% more than they did last year. The crap, not the toddlers. I haven't priced toddlers lately.

Driving a cart that may or may not serve as your walker from one end of the Playground to the other is like working one of those number tile puzzles that my mom used to keep in her purse to shut me up at junior college basketball games. That and Teaberry gum. Only without the gum. And more dangerous. Kind of like the Death Road Truckers show that replaced the ice road after it thawed.

Whoever is CEO of The Devil's Playground, since the old man kicked off 18 years ago, needs to hie himself to the Undercover Boss show and see what he hath wrought.

If The Devil hadn't already put everyone else out of business, I would shop elsewhere. But not at the Sprint Store, which is 30 miles away and has obnoxious salesmen and very long waits and lackadaisical stocking practices.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Saturday, October 23, 2010

One Good Turn

Sonic smiled on Mrs. Hillbilly Mom today.

After rushing the #1 son from his ACT test to the bowling alley, where his league team waited 10 minutes for him to arrive, Mrs. HM backtracked to Sonic. The purpose, of course, was her daily fix of Diet Coke with Lime. A Route 44, to be exact. It IS the weekend.

With the time approaching 2:00, Mrs. HM added a Jr. Deluxe burger to her order. It's only a dollar. Cheaper than the soda itself. The window gal handed out the magical elixir, then said it would be a minute for the burger. During which minute, the really, really nice waitress came to the window to see if the soda had been doled out. Yes, Mrs. HM informed her, it had. RRNW said, "Oh. I didn't know. I made one for you. Do you want it?"

Does Farmer H play with goats? Of course HM wanted that extra beverage! She took it. With no remorse.

RRNW is going to get a really, really nice tip the next time she brings a soda out to the car.

Failure To Communicate

Hillmomba had internet connection issues last night. The #1 son tried to fix the problem. Or so he says. Let it suffice to say that 20 minutes, part of it spent on the porch, does not a concerted effort make. In the eyes of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, at least.

That boy can fix anything electronic or technical. I'm not buyin' the failure. It seems that he would rather do something else on his Friday night than repair the Mansion's internet issues. At 1:00 a.m., the connection worked like a charm. But that was too late for Mrs. HM, who only checked it on the way to bed.

Now I am at Newmentia, waiting for the boy to finish his official SAT. I brought Shiba along with me, as I refuse to do anything blog on school equipment.

More later tonight, if I am inspired.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Losing The War On Mooch

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom-0

That's today's score, in the war on moochers.

A new kid showed up today, one of two new kids, just released from a different kind of school. He did not have a pencil. "Way to go," I told him. "Show up for the first day of school with no pencil. You're off to a good start." He had been prancing around the room before the bell, high-fiving his kindred spirits, gamboling like a golden retriever pup, all smiles and fresh crewcut, not investing one iota of effort into procuring a pencil from one of his peers.

"All my stuff is still at my other school," he said.

To which the other new release commented, "You still owe them one more day. You left a day early." Which would explain why his stuff was still there. Since nobody else loaned him a pencil, I begrudgingly dug out an old #2. He kept it. I should have known. Once a taker of things that don't belong to you, always a taker of things that don't belong to you.

The other notch on the scorecard went to the little churchmouse boy who asked to use my eraser. My Pink Pet. I've had it several years. It was on my desk, so I loaned it, with the attitude that if you can't trust a churchmouse, who can you trust?

Apparently, nobody. He carved his initials into my Pink Pet.

Hum along with Mrs. Hillbilly Mom: handbasket, handbasket, I'm going to invest in handbaskets, and rule the world. What's left of it.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Adhesive Bandages For The Teenage Soul

Sigh. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is a form of crack. Students flock to me willy-nilly for free adhesive bandages. We ain't even gonna go to BandAidLand. It's generic all the way, baby! I must be a charity. A free syringe station. Why do these kids think they can flounce into my classroom, any day, any time, to beg for free medical supplies?

In the classic musical movie, The Rose, Bette Midler told us, "Ladies, we are waitresses at the banquet of life." Quite astute, The Divine Miss M. By the same token, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom must be the supply clerk for the global first aid station.

Now the students are branching out. I am expected to fork over cough drops to the little beggars. It's one thing if a kid is actually coughing. I don't begrudge them a cough drop to get them through class. A Halls Mentho-Lyptus will last over an hour if you don't gnaw it like candy.

Nobody has told me to supply the needy. I did it a couple times out of the kindness of my cold, cold heart. The nurse gives out cough drops, and when she ran out one day, she told me I could give them to the kids. Clever, that one. She's always out. Of cough drops, and the building.

This morning, a snarly, unpleasant chap presented himself to me after first bell. "Can I have some cough drops? You give them to other students." Well. Good morning to you, too. I told him that I was not going to walk to the far corner of my room and rifle through my desk and dig out a cough drop for him, he who was not even in my class until after noon. By that time, he might have stopped coughing, or expired. I did, however tell him that I had a cough drop in my shirt pocket, and that he was welcome to it, but that it might be stuck to the wrapper. He looked at me like I had offered him a piece of gristle that I had chewed and spat upon my plate. "Great. I guess it'll have to do. Until later, when you can give me more."

I resent it, by cracky! I resent students thinking I OWE them stuff that their parents should supply them with. I'm not even bemoaning the Puffs With Aloe, the GermX, the pencils, the paper, the rulers, or the cockulator. A few necessities here and there would not irk me. It's that gosh-darn entitlement attitude, and snarky, sing-songy, thank you that sticks in my craw. A good more than half of them are just jonesin' for attention. Another thing their parents should supply them with. Don't cost nothin'.

The only way I can work myself out of a snit is to chant under my breath: handbasket, handbasket, I'm going to invest in handbaskets, and rule the world. What is left of it.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Maximum Security

There is a problem child among our students this year. Not such a problem as the dude who faked the heart attack. A more pervasive, simmering, wear-us-down kind of problem child. Let's call her Pippi.

Pippi is not to be let out of class. Any time. For any reason. She is a traveler. A roamer. She has a list of excuses ten miles long.

I forgot my book.
I forgot my pencil.
I brought the wrong book.
I need to go to the bathroom.
I have to call home.
The office wants to see me.
I forgot which class I was going to.
I need to go to the bathroom to pull back my hair for the lab.
I don't have the right shoes. Guess I can't do the lab.
I don't like group work. Guess I can't do the lab.
I left my backpack in your room. Go unlock it. (while I was on duty after school)
I had an accident.
The nurse is going to call me out.
I have to go to the office to see if I ride the bus home.

You get the idea. Never mind that it is HIGH school, by cracky, and this chick is still having accidents. I call them on-purposes. She only did that once, with the male gym teacher. It's but another ploy to see if she can worm her way out of class. I have not let her toes cross my threshold yet. Once in, it's like maximum security. Which she might as well get used to now.

Yesterday, she started the bathroom crap. I told her that it was 7th hour. She'd just have to hold it until school was out. And if she had an accident, she would be on her way home anyway. She asked to go three times. "But I can't hoooold it!" I told her I thought she could. The entire faculty has been warned not to fall for this trick. Sometimes, I give her a job such as handing back papers, and she miraculously forgets that her bladder is exploding.

When the bell rang, I took my position in the hall, leaning against my doorway. Pippi walked down the hall, past the girls' bathroom, without even a sidelong glance. So much for her bursting bladder.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Learning Pyramid

Inattention, thy name is freshman.

Welcome to my world. A world in which nobody listens and nobody reads. A world in which anarchy reigns supreme. A world in which Mrs. Hillbilly Mom exaggerates a wee bit in order to relieve stress and make a point.

My freshman classes went to the science lab today, to experiment with surface area. We have just spent two weeks studying weathering and erosion, and the role of surface area in the process of physical and chemical breakdown of materials. Note the words, the very title, in large font at the top of their lab report: Surface Area. And we proposed a hypothesis, based on the concept of Surface Area. In every class. Just before going to the lab.

Printed on the lab report, under procedure, in numbered order, were the steps of the experiment. Steps which Mrs. Hillbilly Mom read out loud each class period, asking students to follow along. Did they understand? Yes. Any questions? No.

The instructions were simple. Something like this:
#Fill two cups with the same amount of room temperature water.
#Record the amount of water. (A beaker marked for 300 milliliters was provided.)
#Set aside one sugar cube.
#Break a second sugar cube into smaller pieces, using a mortar and pestle.
#Put both sugar cubes into separate cups of water at the same time.
#Stir gently with a straw.
#Record the time when sugar particles can no longer be seen in each cup.

The questions were simple:
*Which sugar cube dissolved in the least amount of time? Why?
*How might you make the original sugar cube dissolve faster?

I explicitly directed students not to crush the sugar cube to smithereens, as we could have used granulated sugar if that was my intent.

I informed students that there was no need to stir the cup of water like a witch at a cauldron, that a gently swirling motion was all that we needed.

Here are some of the NOT-LISTENING behaviors that were observed throughout the day:

--used hot water, because "that water felt too cold to me, so I ran hot water instead so it would be room temperature" (which made both sugar cubes dissolve in about 10 seconds)

--filled each cup with faucet water, performed experiment, then asked what the beaker was for

--let sugar cubes sit in water cups, while playing with straws and asking what was taking so long

--stopped timing after the first sugar cube dissolved, then asked how you know how long it takes the second sugar cube to dissolve

--left crumbled sugar from broken sugar cube in bottom of mortar instead of dumping the whole kit-n-caboodle into the water

--asked how you can tell when the sugar is dissolved

--recorded measurements of 500, 28, :04, etc. (What are we talking about here? Gallons? Light-years? Kittens?)

--answered that the first sugar cube dissolved faster because...
+it was crushed
+it had more space in it
+it wasn't stuck together as tight
+it had more molecules in it
+it was already partly dissolved
+it dissolved faster

OK. It's not rocket science. The whole lesson was about SURFACE AREA. It was written on the board. It was discussed. It was in big dark font on top of the lab report. Is it too much to ask that somebody make the connection that the crushed sugar cube had more surface area than the original sugar cube? Apparently, it IS too much to ask. Only about 10 percent of the students came up with this answer.

They might as well have said that a fairy flew down from Rainbowland and waved her wand and made that broken sugar cube dissolve faster.

I understand why Basementia Buddy bangs her head against the whiteboard day after day during the teaching of algebra to middle school students.

It's like a model of the energy pyramid. Only 10 percent of knowledge is transferred from Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's mouth to the brains of the freshman class.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

No Whacking The Mole

The Pony has been devouring Gordon Korman books all day. He has finished 4 of the On The Run paperbacks since this morning. I used to read The Island series to my at-risk classes while they did their work. I'm at least as good as background music. Korman sure knows how to churn out page-turners for the adolescent set.

The #1 son spent the day constructing his chemistry mole. That's a critter stuffed with 602 beans. A MOLE. For the chemically-challenged, a mole is the amount of pure substance containing the same number of chemical units as there are atoms in exactly 12 grams of carbon-12 (i.e., 6.023 X 1023). Don't worry your pretty little head about it. It's 602 great northern beans stuffed into some duct tape/electrical tape creation in the shape of a garden mole. It's actually kind of cute. In a rodent kind of way. The boy has named it Heath. I have no idea why.

I enjoy Mole Day. A variety of moles are carried down the hall. Some whiskered and furry, some limp and ratty, all unique. It's almost as good as Bake a Cake and Decorate It Like a Cell Day.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Tooting The Horn

The #1 son took a practice ACT test on Friday. He's signed up to take the real thing on October 23. The staff of Newmentia set aside a morning to give a practice test to all the juniors and seniors planning to take the real ACT next Saturday. They had to bring their admission tickets, and give up their cell phones, and fill in their info with wooden #2 pencils. All the stuff they'll have to do at the real test. Forewarned is forearmed, you know.

Newmentia has an actual class in ACT Prep, but the #1 son is just a sophomore, and not enrolled. Most of the kids taking the test are not in that class, either. So the practice day was a good idea in the opinion of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. The students enjoyed it, because they got out of regular classes for the morning, and had a lunch catered by Pasta House. Can't beat that with a stick!

After school Friday, the tests were scored. #1 had to attend a wedding rehearsal for his cousin. Then he had plans to go to a bonfire sponsored by the FCA. With the rehearsal finished, his grandma dropped him off at the last home volleyball game to cool his heels until time for the bonfire. At the game, he learned of his practice ACT score.

TOOT! TOOT! This is the place where I toot the horn for #1. TOOT! TOOT!

He scored 31 on his practice ACT. For those of you who don't know, the highest score possible on the ACT is 36. The national average is 21. Missouri has this Bright Flight scholarship dealybobber which gives students with the top 3-5 percent of ACT scores up to $3000 per year for Missouri college tuition. The score to qualify for Bright Flight for the past three years has been: 31.

We're hoping that he can score that on the actual ACT next Saturday. But if he doesn't, he has a few years to qualify. After all...he hasn't even been taught some of the items on the test yet.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Pony Sums It Up

I am upset with Dish Network. They have dropped the FX channel. That means that we can no longer watch reruns of Malcolm in the Middle while getting ready for school. It means that we have to watch Animal Planet reruns of World's Funniest Animals. That in itself is not too traumatizing. The commercials are the creepy part. Specifically, commercials for Fatal Attractions.

The commercial starts out like a love story between that week's idiot and his wild animal pet. You realize that no good will come of this fatal attraction. Somebody is going to die. And it ain't the critter.

All week, the teaser has been about a woman and her love of reptiles. A male relative tells the camera, "She really thought those snakes cared about her." To which The Pony matter-of-factly commented, "They did. They cared what she tasted like."

I don't know where that boy gets his sense of humor.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Screwing With Hillbilly Mom

I have a screw loose. I know. I don't mean to brag. But in addition to my total insouciance towards all things socially unacceptable, I have an actual loose screw. In the literal, hardware sense.

The right earpiece screw of my glasses is loose, so that earpiece flaps back and forth as I take them off and put them on. It is but one more thing to annoy me during the school day.

Today, by some mystical alignment of the sun, moon, earth, and universe, I found myself uncharacteristically idle for about 10 minutes while my class was hard at work. Like a chimpanzee jonesin' for termites, I searched for an implement with which to tighten my loose screw. A dime was too large, my fingernails were too soft, but a single staple was just right.

Did you ever try to separate one staple from a long line of staples suitable for stapler insertion? Note to self: it ain't gonna happen. Those little boogers are glued together tighter than headlice nits on a kindergarten beauty pageant contestant. I soon deduced that shooting a lone staple out of my Swingline was the most efficient route.

Silently chortling, so as not to disturb my industrious students (there's a test tomorrow, by cracky!), I prepared to insert one leg of the staple into the slot of the screw. Except that my glasses are bifocals. Not that I need them, of course. It's just that all fashionable ladies of a certain age like to have such stylin' accessories. That fashionable crap ain't all it's cracked up to be. Having spoiled my peepers with those demon bifocals, I could not see the screw slot without my glasses. But when I put on the glasses, I couldn't see the screw slot! Woe was moi.

I took off the bifocals and read that screw like a Braille madwoman. The staple leg caught in the screw slot, and it turned a half-turn! Then I tried to remove it to change the angle and make another half-turn. But that staple was stuck in the screw. Double woe was moi. After much prying, the staple came out. Upon putting those bifocals back on my face, I saw that the staple was bent worse that an S-curve sign with scoliosis.

I really need to hoof it over to The Devil's Playground and invest in a magnifying glass and a little screwdriver.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

$1.99 Shipping On Christ

Quite the bargain, eh?

That's an email I got yesterday on my phone. I didn't open it. After the Gummi Mary fiasco, I didn't want to temp fate.

In other news, the class of the broken ruler denies responsibility for the missing calculator. Or cockulator, as students are wont to pronounce it in Hillmomba. According to their logic, "We may be RulerBreakers, but we draw the line at Grand Theft Calculator." Those words didn't actually flow from their oral cavities. I announced it, and they heartily agreed.

I find the situation a bit creepy. Not 'The Situation,' which is Mike and his abs, on Jersey Shore. Which is even MORE creepy, but doesn't affect me, personally. This missing calculator just might be a ploy to snag Mrs. Hillbilly Mom memorabilia for the construction of a voodoo doll. It could happen!

A few years ago, a girl on the bus snipped off a hunk of some guy's hair. When he whipped his head around and asked her what she was doing, she put her scissors in her purse, held up the hair, looked him in the eye, and gave him a Hillmomban version of bwah, ha, ha. The kids who observed the incident swore that she was going to make a voodoo doll of him.

She's the same kid who embezzled one book at a time during her stint as a library helper, until she had nigh on 100 purloined tomes for her very own home library. I have her sister in class now. She reads all the time. I want to say, "Oh, do you like to read? Do you have a lot of books at home?" But that might not be considered polite. Besides, I don't want to end up on her hit list. Which, contrary to the belief of one of last year's students, is not a list of people you want to smack.

Ah...there's something in the air. And it's not even time for the full moon yet.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Why Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Can't Have Nice Things

Kids can be so cruel.

Today in class, we analyzed data and made graphs to illustrate the results of our running water/soap bar erosion lab. I set out 10 rulers and 10 calculators. The kids were working in their lab groups, so I figured they could share. Why hand out a plethora of whackers if you can skate by with less?

One class had a group that hogged the rulers. I had a few of the good rulers left over from yesterday's session of measuring grooves carved into the soap. By good, I mean they are those clear, colored, hard-plastic rulers from The Devil's Playground. I seldom hand them out in large quantities, because they have holes in the middle, and make good pencil helicopters. They do, however, have centimeter and millimeter markings, which my old wooden rulers advertising good study habits do not.

I gave out four of the good rulers to a group right in front of my desk. They handled them with respect. Until a usurper crowded into their midst from another group. Just because he was finished, he thought he could retake his assigned seat. He began flirting in the manner of 14-year-old boys. Meaning that he picked and poked at the girls using the good rulers. Next thing you know, there's a CRACK! Then silence. Which is never a good thing in the classroom.

I asked what happened. Poker held up my clear pink ruler. In two pieces. He said, "I grabbed the end of her ruler, and I wouldn't let go. I didn't mean for it to break. Can I buy you a new one?"

Which was a nice thought, but I don't need kids buying me rulers. I need kids learning to respect the property of others. Meaning the property of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.

By the end of the day, only nine calculators remained. I've had those calculators for five years. They cost $1 apiece at Save-A-Lot. They are not freebies used to garner votes, business, or popularity.

I sense a lack of guidance at home.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Long Strange Twit

A wacko walked into Newmentia today.

No, that's not a joke, like three blonds walking into a bar. It's a fact, Jack. There I was, discussing a new student with the counselor during the last few minutes of my plan time, when a short, bald man appeared at my door.

"Are you the secretary I just talked to?" he asked the counselor.
"No," said C. "I'm the counselor. You want the principal's secretary."
"Where is she? I want to mentor students." Baldy was in a hurry.
"You need to go to the office."
"Where is that?"
"Back the way you came. Right by the door."
"You take me."

C gave me that look that meant, "This is odd." In fact, she said it right out loud. "This is odd." She stepped into the hall to take Baldy to the office. Funny that he had already talked to the secretary there, and needed to be led back.

C returned, we wrapped up our conversation, and she shoved off like a ship in the night to land on some other unsuspecting teacher's shore in the midst of everyday mayhem. C's secretary came cruising down the hall just after the bell. She requested the presence of one of the two custodians who lurk about the hall that time of day. "I don't care which one of you, but you need to come with me." How's that for crushing an ego?

Seems that Baldy had gotten away, and nobody knew where to find him, and it was class change time. I suggested the obvious to the leftover custodian, after filling him in on what I thought was going on. Because nobody had mentioned Baldy by name, only that 'we need to watch the doors.' So I wondered if maybe, just maybe, somebody of the male persuasion should take a peek into the boys' restroom, just in case. Because if I was a bald, male perv on the loose in a school full of tempting, tender adolescent treats, that's where I would make my move. Away from cameras. Before a cry for help could be heard. Not that I'm a perv or anything. But I watch TV.

Next thing I know, my class all accounted for and indoctrinated into the ways of today's lab activity on weathering and erosion, some staff on the first response team went cruising by my window. They looked like they had the situation under control.

After school, I learned that Baldy had been on the run, round and round the building. Newmentia is one LOOOONG building, kind of a T shape, with a parking lot on each side of the T. Law enforcement officials arrived and subdued and questioned Baldy. According to one eye-witness, Baldy swore that Newmentia was a stupid building, and he couldn't find where he'd parked his gosh-darn truck. His gosh-darn truck that had been sitting out front running, with his wife in the passenger seat.

Stranger than fiction, Baldy had already been to Elementia, where he told the principal he was holding his goat for a $3 million ransom. And Baldy had made a stop at Basementia, where he was summarily given the boot, which made him complain to the staff chasing him at Newmentia, "That guy won't give me back my pontoon boat."

By all indications, this Baldy dude is a mental case, not your run-of-the-mill child-molester. But still. Who can be sure? Why can't something be done about his little transgression? I'm thinking along the lines of a restraining order. Must we be on lockdown through perpetuity? Has it come to that, society? Can we not keep our crazies in check? Is the attic not good enough for Uncle Charlie any more? What's with the dude's wife letting him pull this stunt THREE FREAKIN' TIMES? Surely she knows he is unstable.

Our business is children. Do we need armed guards to protect them throughout the day? Do we need to pull a Joe Clark, and chain our doors shut against intruders? Can anybody just walk into a Chrysler plant and say they want to volunteer? Or the Hershey factory? Or a horse-breeding farm? Why do folks think anything goes at a school? Just because this twit, Baldy, was too addled to be dangerous, does that mean his cousin Mullet will be?

Invest in a handbasket factory.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

New Chicken Treat

Chickens really like grapes. Farmer H watched The Pony and I toss those green grapes off the porch to his dwindling flock of chickens. They have been in the refrigerator, taking up space for two weeks, and were starting to turn brown. The grapes, not the chickens. Those chickens came running, little thought-bubbles over their feathered heads, thinking, "Ooh, what's this? A new treat? For us? A squishy, moist treat, to be squeezed with the beak, then swallowed whole?"

Farmer H's thought-bubble was a bit different: "My grapes!"

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Reckless Abandon

The crazy people were out today. The crazy drivers who pull trailers and can't stay in one lane. I saw at least 8 of them. Lawnmowers, couches, cars, boxes, name it, they hauled it--badly. Pickups, duallys, dump trucks, compact cars...any mode of propulsion, all reckless.

It didn't help that people on our county road were having a yard sale. They put a cardboard sign out on the major county road, the one named with a letter, and then put another little cardboard sign on a stick at the end of their driveway, which was a mile off the beaten path. It was not quite effective. Several cars passed it and had to turn around in a another driveway on a blind curve. A blind curve near a different driveway, with cardboard signs with pigs drawn on them. That meant those folks were having their annual pig roast. Just what we needed, more drunken crazy drivers.

There was a dune buggy at the bowling alley. I don't believe those things are street legal. It looked like something Penelope Pitstop used to drive on Wacky Races, except it wasn't pink. All I needed was an Amish buggy to complete my extraordinary driving experience.

I swear I heard T-Hoe breathe a sigh of relief after he negoatiated Farmer H's furry friends grazing along the driveway.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Knock, Knock

Yesterday would have been my grandma's birthday. My dad's mom. She passed away three weeks ago today. Don't you all go feeling sorry for Granny. She was 92 years old, and had lived by herself, in her own house, until about six months ago. Granny outlived two husbands and three children. She enjoyed reading, quilting, and watching wrestling on TV.

Farmer H was a faithful companion to Granny. When her last husband died 12 years ago, Farmer H took up the handyman slack. Every Sunday, he spent several hours visiting Granny, whether she needed him or not. Sometimes they just went to jawing about old times. The boys and I used to visit as well, but not as routinely as Farmer H. The older the boys got, the more activities we had to deal with. Life gets in the way of living, I guess. But Farmer H visited Granny like clockwork.

Which brings us to today's tale.

Granny was a bit of a collector. Not by Hoarders: Buried Alive standards. She had many sets of dishes, and stamp collections, books, quilts, coins, clocks--even a mummified cat in her garage attic. OK, so Granny didn't know that cat was there until Farmer H found it during a clean-out. But that makes her sound like a hoarder, which she wasn't. She didn't even have a cat. Over the past several years, Granny asked all of us grandkids and daughters-in-law to take the things we wanted. No used waiting until she was gone, she reasoned. She told the #1 son that he was eventually getting her piano. The Pony was to get some swords, I got two sets of dishes, Farmer H got some old-timey collectibles and some clocks.

One of these clocks is a cuckoo clock. Farmer H hung it on the kitchen wall, where it has driven me cuckoo for the past two years. In fact, I persuaded the #1 son to turn down the sound on it six months ago. Each time Farmer H noticed, he turned it back to max volume. It's a complicated little clock, at least to me. It has weights hanging down that do something to make it run, I suppose, since it is not electric, and it does not have batteries. Farmer H got all wrapped up in his chicken-killing hobby, and forgot about his former favorite fowl. The cuckoo and I have been peacefully coexisting for some time now.

Last Sunday, Farmer H was home alone after dropping #1 off at church. The Pony and I shopped with The Devil, then went to see Legend of the Guardians. Farmer H was at a loss with what to do, not having Granny to visit any more during church time. He decided to whip that old cuckoo into shape again. Here's how he tells it:

I was standing in the kitchen working with that clock. I got it running again, and I had just set it to 12:30. The cuckoo came out like it was supposed to, and cuckooed. Right then, the kitchen door opened by itself. Not just a crack. It opened up like a person could walk in. I think your grandma came to pay me a visit.

Interesting case here. Farmer H is not now, nor has ever been, a Door Floofer like my mom. I have never known him to leave the door ajar. In fact, he makes it his life's work to close every door that is gaping or cracked. It's one of his OCD kind of behaviors, like yelling at the kids for splashing water on the wall during a bath, or leaving TVs and lights on when leaving the room. I, myself, leave the pantry and the towel closet and the living room closet with the door pushed to, but not latched. It is quicker and easier when you have something in your hands and can't grasp the handle to turn it. Farmer H is always jamming the doors closed.

As far as the kitchen door is concerned, it is sheltered from the wind, being in a little alcove on the back of the wraparound porch of the Mansion. The Pony's bedroom shields it from the north wind, and the kitchen garden-window-alcove thingy juts out to protect the other side. The only time I've known this door to come open is when it puffs open due to the kids opening the front door during a bout of Kitchen Door Floofing. But it only opens a couple of inches, and kind of breathes back and forth. According to Farmer H, it opened over halfway and stopped. The door did not slam against the wall in a full opening, as one would expect if the wind caught it.

Farmer H has always poo-pooed my tale of seeing the headless man in the basement. Like I would make up something like that. Who wants to see a headless man in the dark when everyone else is asleep? Not me, by cracky! So it surprised me that Farmer H attributed this swinging door to something of the supernatural nature.

At Granny's memorial, her preacher, who didn't know her very well, with her not being able to attend church for a while, read a little poem that she had left behind. It contained a line that encouraged us to reach out to her if we needed her, that she would always be around. I don't know if she wrote the poem, or just picked it out to be read. And after all these years, my mom told me that Granny had a vision of one of her sons after he died.

Some things I can't explain.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Original Gummi Mary

I am a bit perturbed with the Glee people this week. As I tuned in to watch my new third-favorite show on Tuesday night, I was confronted with their audacity. GLEE RIPPED OFF MY GUMMI MARY!!! Sure, Finn named his tasty religious manifestation The Grilled Cheezus. But it's not so different.

OK, so probably the writers have never heard of Hillmomba, and the OH SO SWEET Gummi Mary. But I call shenanigans! I had this story first, by cracky! Way back on March third of ought-six. I'm reproducing that post for your reading pleasure. And so I don't have to write an original post tonight.



Well, It Ain't Jesus on a Pancake

You will never in a million years believe what happened to me at
school today. No, I didn't get hit with a Puffs With Aloe box, or
accused of belching, or asked if I knew how to color my roots,
or punched by Mum, or invited to eat a muffin with the letter 'K'
on it, or bumped from my parking spot by a usurper. That is
common, everyday stuff in the life of Hillbilly Mom. No...this was
something BIG!

I might have mentioned that there is one class I allow to have
treats. These are treats that I bring from my pantry. Snacks that
my kids won't eat anymore. Hey! To high school boys, that IS
considered a treat! Today I brought some Gummi Bears that were
left over from the fundraiser last fall. I warned the kids, "These
are from last October. They may not be any good." They replied,
in the manner of starving high school boys at 9:10 a.m., "Gummi
Bears never go bad." Kid Senior opened the bag and parceled
them out. They were stuck together, so they broke off clusters
of Gummi goodness.

Kid Senior said, "They're good, but they would be even better if
we could warm them in your microwave." This kid has a fixation
with my microwave. He wants to put everything in there: cookies,
Pop Tarts, honeybuns. I told him, "Welllllll....I'll get you a plate,
but you can't leave them in for long." He only put his in, the rest
of the class having more sense. He only had them in there about
10 seconds. They looked all right when he took them out. Then
he tried to eat one. It stretched out like a piece of gum stuck to
your shoe as you walk across a blacktop parking lot in August.
"Maybe I left them in a little too long," he said. He sat down with
his paper plate.

I was reading the first book of the Dive series by Gordon Korman.
The kids did work, ate Gummis, and listened. They are good
multitaskers. Why, some of them can even whine, put Big Red
wrappers on their heads, belch, and tilt their chairs back in one
smooth motion. Anyhoo, I noticed over the top of the book that
Kid Senior had stopped consuming the Gummis.

"I can't eat these."

"Are they bad? Throw them away."

"No. I can't eat them. It's Mary, praying."


"Look at it."

He brought up the paper plate with melted Gummi Bears. I swear,
it was an image of the Virgin Mary, holding Baby Jesus! I saw it
right off. Some kids could tell, some kids couldn't.

"Hey! We can sell it on eBay!"

"That is not leaving my room! I do not want everybody knowing
that I fed you old Gummi Bears."

"C'mon. I'll split the money with you."


"Can I take a picture of it?"

"That would be good...IF you had a camera."

"I can take it with my cell phone."

"No. You are not even supposed to have a cell phone at school.
I can't let you get it out to take a picture. Then people would know
that I fed you Gummi Bears AND disregarded the cell phone rule."

"C'mon. Nobody'll believe we had Praying Mary in Gummi Bears."

"Leave it here, and I'll bring my kid's camera Monday to take a
picture. It uses floppies. We can load the picture on my computer."

Kid Senior looked at the image. I went back to reading. He picked
at it for a minute. "That's only her knees. I can eat that part." He
ate about half of Mary, and then threw her in the wastebasket.
"Can I go wash Mary off my hands?"

"OK. But don't be gone long."

I can't believe he ate her. I really wanted a picture for my blog, but
I couldn't let him use that phone. I'm all for stretching and bending
and contorting the rules every which way IF it's not going to come
back and bite me in the butt. And I was afraid Mary would.

Here's a sketch I made of the pose Mary was in. I am not a religious
person, but I can recognize Mary holding Baby Jesus when she
bites me in the butt.

I know you don't believe me. She looked just like that, only bumpy
and colorful, because she was made of melted Gummi Bears, you
know, on a white paper plate. She had on a headscarfy hood
thingie, and Baby Jesus was wrapped up in a blanket. I could not
make out any facial features on either of them. I'm not such a
good artist, so my rendering does not do them justice. I am not a
religious person. Perhaps this would have made a bigger impact
on me if I was. Maybe it's because I have been so concerned with
the world going to h*ll in a handbasket lately. It was just odd.
I can only tell you what I saw.

But I still don't believe the Jesus on a pancake from a couple
weeks ago. It looked like they stamped him on, or had etched their
pan to make him. And he has a lazy eye.

So anyhoo, you don't have to believe me. I know what I saw. I'm
not exactly Homer Simpson grabbing the Gummi Venus De Milo
off the butt of the babysitter, now am I? I have nothing to gain by
making this up. But it was a very odd happening in the life of
Hillbilly Mom.


Kudos to my blog buddy Redneck Diva, for leaving the comment: "Hail Mary, full of flavor..."

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Marooned On A Wednesday Afternoon

Aloha, all. I've spent the afternoon lolling about on an island. STUDY ISLAND! Dum dum DUM!

Not the most pleasurable trip, I might add. Like common convicts, exiled to a land of anarchy, my teaching brethren and I were shipped off unceremoniously to learn the ropes of how to survive STUDY ISLAND.

It wasn't pretty. The temperature was quite tropical, with all the hot air from the inhabitants, and the simmering electronics of the computer lab. I forgot to take a supply of water, and was darn near dehydrated by the 2:56 bell. My island sister, Mabel, proffered a sugar-free Life Saver near the end, but it was too late to save Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. She had wilted to a mere husk of her former self.

Abandon all hope, ye who wash up on STUDY ISLAND. No matter how hard you try to learn the navigational tactics necessary for survival, no good end will come of this two-hour tour. All the core teachers and all their End of Course students will not be able to partake of the educational bliss that is STUDY ISLAND. One computer lab, with 22 computers, two laptop carts of 12 computers, and a sometimes-working smaller lab with 10 computers does not a match made on STUDY ISLAND make.

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I'm Not All Thumbs

I should have paid better attention at yesterday's First Aid presentation. When I arrived home, I promptly sliced off the end of my thumb. Not to practice First Aid or anything. Because I was careless in slicing an onion. That side of the thumb is flat now. At least I missed the thumbnail. And the flap of skin fell off this morning, so it doesn't get caught on everything.

Did you know that humans depend on their opposable thumbs for many things, none the least of which is pulling up their pants? Did you know that Google does not like the spelling of "opposable?" Did you know that though onions do not make Mrs. Hillbilly Mom cry, they make her thumb smart. Not smart as in "intelligent." Smart, as in, "feels like acid is eating away my skin." Which is true. Onions use Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's body fluid to make sulfuric acid, with which they torture her.

Onions conspire against Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Quote Of The Day

"Most people on fire run around, which fans the flames. Well...I guess ALL people on fire do."

Yes. Words of wisdom from our speaker at today's monthly faculty meeting, during a presentation on First Aid.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Back Off, Jack!

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is having issues with her personal space. The lack of it. What is wrong with people who can't respect our bubble, as some of my students call it? Are they societal simpletons? Do they not understand the concept of personal space? Or do they understand, and choose to ignore it? How much huffing and gazing to kill will it take to set these too-closers straight?

Too-Closer #1 inched his way under my armpit in The Devil's Playground. Which was quite uncomfortable, him being a teenager taller than my armpit. He weaseled his way against my left side as I was trying to elbow enough room to scan my debit card and enter the PIN. The PIN which I'm sure he can recite, having had his nosey nose all up in my business during my transaction. The adult who brought him should have put him on a child leash. There's an idea. I can start a company that manufactures teen-leashes, all tricked out with pointy metal studs and other metallica to match their piercings. Consider that patent pending.

Too-Closer #2 stalked The Pony and me at the 11:30 a.m. showing of Legend of the Guardians. They were old enough to know better. And old enough not to have been at a showing of Legend of the Guardians. It's an animated kid movie about anthropomorphic owls, by cracky! What's the deal with septuagenarians showing up with no great-grandkids in tow? The Pony and I arrived 30 minutes before showtime, because our deal with The Devil was brief today. We sat in the next-to-back row, where there are two rows of four chairs together. Not the back row, mind you, because somebody would then sit in front of us and block The Pony's view. People like those seats. Nobody demands to crawl across you to get to a mere two untaken seats.

The Septas rolled in at 11:25. We were already in the midst of commercials. Keep in mind that we were the only four people in the theater. The Septas sat in the row of four seats behind us. C'mon. They had to know that the movie was not going to be crowded. They had their pick of every single row in that theater besides one. And they chose to sit directly behind The Pony and me. We were reading, Pony on his Kindle, I on a paperback. Septa Dude right away began asking Septa Gal if she could see. It's not like she was a Roloff. She was behind The Pony. She said she could see OK. Septa Dude wouldn't give it a rest. He was like one of those controlling husbands who never let their wives out of their sight. After about five minutes of questioning her vision, Septa Dude made her agree to move to another row. The one on the back right side of the theater. All along, I had the feeling that he felt they should have our seats, and that we should volunteer to move. Too bad, so sad. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom don't play that.

Rounding out today's triumvirate of Too-Closers was #3. He appeared in a white car, and passed in front of me as I waited at a stop sign to pull out onto an outer road to get to my mom's house after the movie. No big deal. He had the right-of-way. The speed limit was 35. It's not like I peeled out from that stop sign as if T-Hoe was a funny-car champion. I was making a left turn. It was slow. But Too-Closer #3 pulled onto the shoulder of the road. I don't know what that was all about. I wasn't even near him. I had time to veer around him, giving him extra room in case he was going to throw open his door and vomit, or take off a jacket, get a beverage from a cooler on the back seat. But he immediately pulled onto the road to follow me. What's the deal?

Too-Closer #3 did not exactly tailgate me. But he maintained the same speed as I: 35 mph. So he wasn't just doing me a favor in letting a faster driver go around. The weirdest part is, when I got in the left-turn lane at the next light, to go down a strip of divided highway to my mom's house, Too-Closer #3 got in the left turn lane behind me. And when the light turned green, he didn't make a left! He went straight across. From the left-turn lane. It was downright creepy.

I need my space. I need it now. And all day, every day. To borrow a line from Sandra Bullock in 28 Days, "If it is not too much to ask, will you all just back the f*** off?"

Friday, October 1, 2010

One Lad Left Behind

Sometimes, my cold, cold heart goes out to one of my students. Not often. But it happens.

This afternoon, while on parking lot duty, I witnessed one young lad trying to hitch a ride. Perhaps it was to the baseball field, which does not adjoin the grounds of Newmentia. No buses travel from Newmentia to the field. When you're a freshman, and not driving, and your parents work, and your usual ride has other plans after are at the mercy of your peers. Some are merciless.

Time is of the essence in a matter such as this. You have to catch a ride before the parking lot empties itself of drivers. The only factor in your favor on this sunny fall Friday is that cars have to line up and wait to pull out onto the county road.

I watched the Young Lad run from car to car, like Tom Chaney running from horse to horse in True Grit, begging one Parmalee brother after another to ride him double, so he wouldn't be left behind at the camp with Mattie Ross and the pit of rattlesnakes. Young Lad had hustled out to the parking lot on time. He thought he had a ride. One after another plan fell through. This car took a different kid who just walked up. They yelled that they didn't have room now. That car played messin' with Sasquatch with him, and peeled away, hooting.

Dejectedly, Young Lad began the trek back to the building. I had decided that if I saw him inside after my duty, I would offer to run him over to the field. I know his family. I had The Pony as a chaperone. But Young Lad got lucky. A pair of brothers proffered a lift in the back of their pickup. Never mind that it's against the law. It's the thought that counts.

Young Lad hopped into the bed. He looked around for a moment, then laid down so he couldn't be seen. It could be that he wanted to be safe, what with the recklessness of teen drivers. It could be that he was embarrassed that he had been rejected by so many other drivers. It could be that he didn't want the police to catch him riding in the back of the truck. It could be that the driver specified that Young Lad could ride, if he laid down so nobody would see him. We'll never know the reason.

I tip my nonexistent hat to those brothers who did the deed.