Monday, June 26, 2006

Daily Show clips, courtesy of Lisa Rein's radar. Might very well come in handy some day, when you're bored in study hall and want to make it look like you're working.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

The last parent phone call of the year.

Little Jimmy was all set to graduate. All he had to do was pass my class. Not the easiest thing in the world to do, in all honesty, but not the most difficult, either. Doing he work and paying some semblance of attention tends to help. Little Jimmy, it should be pointed out, was none too hot at either of these habits.

So I made another one of my Award-Winning Parent Phone Calls. The Award-Winning Parent Phone Calls have a rhetorical structure to them that would make Cicero himself blush in pride. First I fineangle my way into their good graces, then call attention to the kid's poor performance (often glossing over the months beforehand that I didn't call by underscoring the numerous progress reports the school mails home and the wonderful facility for our online gradebook resources).

After that, I serve attention to any upcoming assignments, volley a suggestion that close monitoring on their part and contact on both our parts is bound to be successful, and smash my best wishes upon them for a happy rest of the day. Your serve now. Match. Back to the clubhouse for martinis, so to speak. (Man, I miss tennis.)

At the end of the year, however, it gets a bit harried. Usually, I have parents calling me about their kid's failing grade, which puts me not so much in the defensive as in the responsive, fielding serves like "What are his chances of passing," "How did his grade get so low?" and "Just what have you been doing in that classroom all year anyway?" with "It depends on the final exam", "He's been making all the wrong priorities" and "Hell, I don't know."

But when parents don't call, it makes me take the initiative. Which I don't like. It cuts into my doing-anything-but-calling-parents time.

Anyway, Little Jimmy failed to complete some required makeup work in time, and I realized that, despite numerous pleadings and parent contacts, not to mention guidance counselor visits, Little Jimmy wasn't going to pass my class. My class, I must point out, is a requisite for a diploma.

Little Jimmy's ex-cop dad picked up on the seventh ring. "My kid's not home right now, dipshit."

"Well, actually it was you I wanted to talk to, Mr. Jimmy."

"Start talking then, asswipe. Just don't expect any more money for your referendum. You should see my friggin' tax bill."

"No no, that ship has sailed. It's about your son. Have you spoken to him today?"

"What's it to you, dickbreath?"

"Well, I still haven't received his makeup work, and so he won't receive a passing grade. I'm afraid that means his graduation situation is untenable."

"The kid took an Elective," Mr. Jimmy said, belching. Thank God phones are only auditory. "He's an English credit ahead, so he doesn't need your class."

"Oh." I tried to digest this. "So all those other times we talked..."

"Nah, I want him to learn as much as he can. Doesn't sound like he did, though. I know I never got into all that fag poetry stuff you've been doing."

"Yes." I felt like gnawing through the line and spewing Wilfred Owen at him until he cried uncle. Who's the fag now, beeitch? "Well. I did notice his eyes were pretty red. And that he said something about a late-night party last night, where booze was served. Would he have attended a party like that?"

"Oh, it's possible."

"Still, it's probably not worth looking into," I replied. "I'm sure he was a model of teenaged virtue."

"Hey, listen dickhead," Mr. Jimmy interrupted. "I'll decide what's worth looking into."

That'll teach him.

Except it's my own fault. Going in those past few weeks to report his status, and I never even thought to check on whether or not he needed the class. That's like going to the dentist's, letting him yank your tooth, then grinning through a novacaine haze and saying, "Just a cleaning, right, Doc?"

That reminds me. I have a dentist appointment next week. I hate the dentist.