I taught at an after-school clinic in Southern California for a while after I graduated college. The pay blew ass, but to this day it remains the job I have most enjoyed doing, and in which I believe I did the most good. I taught reading and college-prep writing.
I tended to get the hardcases, for whom I had some affection–kids, like twelve-year-old Eddie Jong, who were too damn smart for their own good. Eddie was considered a particularly onerous student because of his inappropriate and razor-keen tongue. I didn’t mind working with Eddie, though, which was fortunate, because nobody else wanted to.
Being just a little bit lippy myself, I had a knack for taming smartmouths, and mostly I was able to keep Eddie reined in. But in a dastardly move that regular readers of the True-Ass Tales might see as some sort of karmic justice, there was one time when, in front of at least fifteen other teachers and students, Eddie got me good.
The thing which transpired couldn’t have been something he’d planned. He was simply a panther crouched in the tall grass alongside a watering-hole, and I the hobbled emu foolish enough to drink.
“I hate teachers,” he said one day. He said that a lot.
I sighed. “Yeah, Eddie–well let me tell you something, we just love you.” I was undone almost before I had finished the words.
The little bastard’s eyes widened in ersatz horror as he backed away from the table. “Did you hear that everybody? Tardsie said he loved me. HE’S A FUCKING PERVERT!”
It took almost a minute for the other teachers to get their students refocused, a task made more difficult by their own snickering. In the meantime, I dragged Eddie up to the front desk, and told the attendant that I was docking an insane amount of points (the kids could earn toys and prizes–some of which were actually pretty cool–based on their points, which obviously, meant a great deal) for not only his improper and disruptive behavior but for his disgusting potty-mouthery as well.
It was the right thing to do, and when I next saw Eddie, he was suitably chastened–temporarily anyway. Although we would do battle many more times while I worked there, I was careful never again to let that crafty little turd score a knockout blow. I like to think, however, that I was in some way responsible for the maturation of Eddie’s devastating wit. The hardest thing about it was never being able to tell that smart-mouthed little shit how very proud he made me.