Archive for November, 2012

Creeped Out and Complimented in the Same Night

November 18, 2012

Creeped Out and Complimented in the Same Night

  My satellite television company and Fox Sports are having a contract dispute. Do I care? Yes! The Phoenix Suns games are only on Fox Sports Arizona. I had season tickets for almost twenty years but finally realized I couldn’t afford them when I hadn’t paid off the credit card charge for one year when it was time to renew.

Last night the Suns were playing the Miami Heat. I decided to watch it down the block at a sports bar that had great burgers and sweet potato chips. I planned to go down to the Rhythm Room and catch one set of The Sugar Thieves after the game.

When I got to the bar, the game wasn’t playing on any of the televisions. The manager pointed to the set he would put on the right channel and I chose a table in front of it.

I eat out often by myself, so I wasn’t the least self-conscious about it. I ordered a diet Coke and the blue cheese burger with the sweet potato chips and settled in to watch the game. The Suns were horrible the first half of the first quarter, but then played good ball and it was a close game. At half-time I treated myself to the brownie sundae. It was delicious but much too big to finish.

In the middle of the third quarter, a young man wrestled my attention from the game and asked if I was sitting alone. I replied I was, and he asked if he could join me as he didn’t want to sit at the bar. I thought it was strange, but I hadn’t realized the bar had filled up. I agreed.

I had a hard time interpreting what he was saying. He was slurring his words. I wondered if he was drunk or had a speech impediment. When he told the waitress that I was his girlfriend, I laughed. He ordered one their very large glasses of beer. The waitress carded him. That’s how young he looked.

He did know about basketball and in particular the Suns players, no mean feat as there are no famous guys on the team anymore. He ordered wings. When they came he stuffed one in his mouth and his eyes bugged out. He finished chomping on it and spewed out the bone.

I asked if it was spicy or physically hot and he said the latter. But then he popped another one in his mouth with the same effect. He told the waitress he wanted to pay for my meal. I declined, but he wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. He put his hand on my shoulder. I shrugged it off.  I was getting more uncomfortable by the minute.

He called someone to say where he was and that he was with his girlfriend. He paid the bill. It was now the fourth quarter of the game and tied. He got up with his beer but without a word to me. I saw my opening. I went out the patio, ran to my car, locked the doors and left. I listened to the end of the game on my car radio on the way to the Rhythm Room.

The place was packed. I paid the eight dollar cover and stood to listen to the sweet music. A young man next to me started chatting. I told him about my encounter at the sports bar. He said he would pick out a suitable guy for me. Luckily he was with his girlfriend so I knew he wasn’t coming on to me.

I listened to six or so songs, and then headed for the restroom. On the way, a handsome guy with silver hair stopped me and said, “I love your smile.” When I returned to my “place” I noticed that the handsome guy was looking at me every now and then. When the band was playing a slow tune, I asked the silver fox to dance. He readily agreed. We didn’t talk much, just exchanged name. At the end of the dance, he hugged me and told me to thank me for sharing my smile with him and to “enjoy the evening.” He didn’t make a move to stand and talk with me. I can take a hint. I returned to my place and enjoyed the rest of the set. I left when the band took its break.

So I got complimented and creeped out in the same night, got to enjoy a well-played basketball game and listen to soul enriching music. Better than an average Saturday night at home.

“Children’s faces looking up, Holding wonder like a cup”

November 12, 2012

This phrase is from the poem “Barter” by Sara Teasdale. I’ve been reminded of it as I’ve been substituting for a second grade teacher in a very urban school in Phoenix. It’s been a rewarding time, a frustrating time, and an exhausting time.

I’m not used to getting up at 5:30 and getting going. Sure, I get up that early with the dogs in the summertime, but we take a long walk, and then I make some tea and read the paper. Now I have to be at work across town by 7, and even earlier to make sure there isn’t a line at the copier. I pick up the students from the playground at 7:20 and have little time off until I wave good-bye to the last one about 2:45. I have twenty-five minutes for lunch due to my fifteen minute playground duty. I’m on my feet most of those hours.

I’m amazed that my feet and back aren’t aching. I owe that to the two pairs of shoes I ordered over the Internet from Shoes for Crews. They’re made for grocery store personnel and others who have to stand all day. I am bone-tired at the end of each day, not my body is holding up nicely, much to my surprise. I found out that if I had to, I could go back to work full-time.

I’m working at the elementary school at which I was the principal twenty years ago. It’s a bit odd to be in that position, but I enjoy not having the responsibility I once did. I’ve been substituting thirty days a year for the past twelve years of my retirement, so being in the classroom is no shock. I’m filling in for a teacher on maternity leave. She taught a few days in August and then had her baby. A long-term substitute had been hired, but she was offered a permanent position elsewhere and took it. A friend of mine convinced me to share the assignment with her. She did three weeks and I’m doing six weeks.

My observation of school over the past twelve years is that it has become so data and skill driven that the fun and creativity have been forced out.  I feel perfectly free to inject fun into my class. The worst they can do is fire me. I tell the students stories and they retell the stories, I could nicey it up with educational jargon about the skill of sequencing but why ruin a fun time?

The constant need to bring the students to attention is frustrating. And there are at least two students with “challenging” behavior problems. When the need to be a police officer gets to me, I remember it’s only for six weeks.

The best part is when a student is able to complete something they couldn’t do before. And when I tell a story I see their “faces looking up, holding wonder like a cup.” I feel sorry for the regular teachers. They are slaves to the curriculum map. Outsiders are constantly checking that they are delivering the required material with the approved strategies. The district broke the union long ago, so the teache4rs have no voice when the principal or district doesn’t adhere to board policy and allot forty-five minutes a day to prepare. Sometimes teachers need time to take a deep breath and remember they are competent people being asked to do a gargantuan job under difficult circumstances. I was ready to quit after two and half weeks until I had a prep period and could calm myself down and revise my plans to make them better for the kids.

Now I’ve gotten into the swing of things and am enjoying myself and the kids. I can see the best in each of them. But then again, I know it’s temporary. I will again be free in a few weeks to wake up at seven, take the dogs for a walk, make tea, and read the paper. I’d forgotten what a luxury that is.