Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The First Day

Warning: The following words are an accurate and verbatim transcript of today's senior classes. Complaints may be lodged with the NEA, the Board of Education, NCTE and PETA, if necessary.
Hello, class, now settle down now. Don't be shy, come on in, there's seats aplenty and learning afoot! Come on in, now take your seats, okay, that's good. All right. Welcome to English. I'm your teacher, and I want to be the first to welcome you all to what will be, for some of you, your final year in high school. For some of you, that is. Others will not be so lucky, either because you snoozed through nine months of higher learning and bombed every test, or because you're just naturally slow. But don't worry kids, there's no shame in being slow. The world needs drive through managers too.

Sorry, I didn't hear that. Yes, you in the back, with the pierced...everything? Oh yes, the course content. Well, we'll be studying the old masters, the sages, the ones our current language was built upon. You can't call yourself educated unless you know this stuff. Our first assignment? We'll be reading Beowulf. No, I don't know who wrote it. No, I don't know why it's so important. Why are you bothering me with these stupid questions? Do you want an office referral, smart guy?

What's that, precious? Yes, you in the front doing your nails. What kind of a class do I run? So glad you asked, sir. The rules are simple. Most things you guys find enjoyable are things I hate, so you can obey the rules best by not having any fun. Things like annoying cell phone jingles, loud, incoherent bands who purport social messages, talking and enjoying one another's company, crying during tests and field trips to fun and exciting places are all things I frown upon. Here, you're going to get the entire corpus of English lit crammed down your collective throats. And you're going to go through it with a smile on your face. Page 22 of your packet lists the do's and don'ts. Pay particular attention to the "no gum popping rule," especially on mornings after the pub has two-for-one Amstel Lite specials.

Now, here's your textbook. As you can see, it's not for sissies. The first half should be read by next week. And here's our syllabus. Note that your first assignment is an essay, due next week. You can save me a lot of time by crossing out your introduction after completing the draft, since they'll all be crap mostly anyway. Oh, and no persuasive papers about Brad and Angelina, or Tom and Katie. I don't know about all that. I don't care about all that. Neither should you.

Okay, now for the bad news. If you pass this class, you'll graduate, go on with your lives, and I'll get paid. If you fail this class, you'll be stuck with me another year, have a miserable summer, and I'll get paid. Hey, come to think of it, I make out like a bandit either way, don't I?

Well, that's about it. The short version of this class: The Brits ruled the world, both militarily and literature-wise, for the better part of a millenium, before we Americans wrested control. Game over. Now, our entire future depends on a bunch of semi-literate xenophobes who like to blast libraries and hospitals for fun, not to mention a president who couldn't find Afghanistan on a map until it was time to throw a bomb at it.

I'm mad. I'm bad. I'm dangerous. And I don't remember what class this is, so don't screw with me.The long version of the class begins tomorrow. We'll be going over the rise and fall of Roman occupation in the British isles, the basic functions of the gerund phrase, and twenty ways to not piss your friendly neighborhood English teacher off on a Monday morning.

Any questions?


Good. Then close your collective mouths and begin on page 12 for tomorrow's reading: 'When Books Used to Not Stink So Much.' Finish it for tomorrow. I'm off to the pub. If anyone asks, I'm in the can.