Monday, October 30, 2017

Party Pants On

I am supposed to be taking part in the planning session for our class Halloween party, but these types of meetings destroy me spiritually and emotionally.

Astute readers will notice I switched which hand my divine self is holding my regular self in by mistake.

It's called a 'continuity error'.

Shut up, astute readers. Nobody wants that brand of keen observation you're pedalling. 

The party planning gestapo convenes at the head of the table and calls us to attention.

"Now we will have the assigning of things to bring," they declare.

"You know what I'm gonna bring, Teach? I'm gonna bring in some lasagna....for myself." JJ looks around with a sly, satisfied smile.

"I believe I will bring in Gatorade for EVERYONE," another student announces. He turns and points an accusing finger at JJ. "You were only thinking of you."

The class erupts in 'oooohs' and snaps of their fingers.

As the excitement in the room builds, Cliff jumps up from his seat and marches over to me. He pats my shoulder, at first slowly, then building in speed.

"Thanks, man," I tell him, leaning away. He goes back and sits down.

A list of Halloween themed treats the students can make is laboriously compiled: licorice spiders, rice krispie pumpkins, witch brooms roughly approximated by cheese sticks, la choy noodles, and some kind of flappy ham.

"Und ve must wrap ze tiny vieners in dough, so to make viener mummies," one of the teachers declares.

There is some tittering at the use of the word "wiener."

In other immature tittering at marginally naughty words news, when I had students working at the thrift store, stocking shelves, they kept laughing whenever I said 'balls.'

"Put this ball with those balls," I commanded.


"There's too many balls in that box. Take out some balls."

*Snort laugh*

"Oh, grow up you guys. No, stop. Way too big of balls here."

*Howls of laughter*

"About those licorice spiders. We need to decide if we're going to do more of the lacey type licorice, or twizzlers cut into bits?"

"And what color? Guys, we have to pick a color!"

"Oh my god we need to start writing this down."

"I've been writing it down."

"But we need two people to write it down, in case one person misses something."

"What if one person writes it down wrong?!"

"You mean like the licorice spiders should have red legs, but the other person writes it as black?"

"Holy shit."

"Shut up, Gweenbrick. That's a real possibility."

"We could use that watermelon pull-n-peel. Here, I had some the other night and I took a picture of it."

"Oh that's right, you sent me the picture. Let me find it on my phone too."

"Do you think we should all have two pictures of everything?"

"Yes, absolutely."

"I have two phones, so I can always have two pictures of everything that I can text to the same person twice."

"What a good idea."

Since my input keeps getting dismissed as either too negative, or of indeterminate value, I am told to play cards with JJ.

He is sitting next to me, one hand popping Trix cereal into his mouth, the other planted on top of a mound of Skip-Bo cards.

Our classroom has acquired many decks of Skip-Bo cards over the years. Instead of getting rid of some, the new decks are consumed by the old, until we end up with a gallon bag stuffed full of Skip-Bo.

The same thing has happened to our Uno cards, only worse. 

To play a game of Uno in our class requires getting the copier paper box overflowing with cards from the closet and dumping it all over the table. You don't shuffle the cards; you swim in them. 

I don't know how to play Skip-Bo, but it soon becomes clear that my ignorance of the rules doesn't matter.

JJ's version of the game involves spreading cards all over, repeatedly picking up the 'number one' card, and asking me questions about it.

"Damn, is this a one or a seven? Come on, Brob, give me a hint." He grabs another wad of cards, shuffles them nervously from hand to hand, then scatters them back across the table.

"I been doin' all that smokin'," he tells me.


"Yeah, smokin' that weed. Smoking that nasty marijuana."

"You don't smoke that."

"Yes I do. With my dad. But I don't smoke it no more. I quit. I lost my license."

"You had a marijuana license?"

"Yeah-NO-wait. My dad does. WAIT! He did though."

"To smoke?"

"No, to drive, fool! He drive a truck."

"Oh...and he lost his license."

"What? No! He didn't lose no license."

I consider all of this for a minute.

"Does he really smoke weed?" I ask.

"Huh? I told you, man, he drive a truck."

The conversation goes on, spinning its wheels down blind alleys and dead ends.

Someone turns on the Cha-Cha Slide, loud, and I slump into my chair, eyes closed.

After a minute, I start to do the moves that the song commands me to do, only heavily, slowly, as if asleep.

"OH MY GOD!" JJ screams. "You is drunk as hell!"

He shakes with laughter.

A purple Trix escapes from his hand and falls between his legs. He chases after it, into the depths of his crotch, but then gives up; he settles for some vigorous scratching down there and a sniff of his fingers.

"Please go wash your hands," I tell him.

"Damn, bossy."

When JJ gets back, he spies the errant Trix laying on his seat, snatches it up, and eats it.

"Let's play, man, come on." He points impatiently at Skip-Bo.

I look at the rest of the staff.

They are drawing a flow chart of possible licorice spider outcomes based on the tensile strength of a given braid thickness, and exploring if different flavors might contain inherent structural weaknesses. 

"Deal me in, JJ," I say with a sigh.

He pushes seven pounds of Skip-Bo cards towards me. They crash over the table edge and pool in my lap.