Why I'm Glad I'm Not a Genius

Most people who know me would NOT characterize me as an intellectual, and I would have to agree. I ain't no intellectual. My mom says that when I was very young, I was given an IQ test, and apparently I scored in the genius range, or pretty darn close to it. Now, IF my mother remembers correctly, and IF the test was accurate, and IF there is such a thing as a five-year-old genius (and those are a lot
of IF's), then I'm pretty sure I squandered away that genius potential somewhere along the line.

On one level, I'm pretty okay with being the poster child for Waste of Potential. I make a good living, I try to give back a little by working with young people, I pay my taxes, I support local businesses, and I almost always obey traffic laws.

Besides, I know a lot of people who actually do have genius IQs. And they're no fun. If they're not curing diseases or designing new ways to harness nuclear energy, all they're really doing is working feverishly to complete Sudoku puzzles and crosswords. They're lousy kissers and are socially awkward and are condescending and ignorant about pop culture.

Not my people. At all.

Yep, being a genius is highly overrated. One of the nicest perks of NOT being a genius is being able to watch bad reality TV as much as I want without a lot of judgment, from myself or others. People are often surprised to hear about my fascination with TV shows that can easily be labeled Bad, Really Bad, and Ohmigosh-How-Can-You-Even-Watch-Something-That-Horrifyingly-and-Disgustingly Bad. My students especially are shocked to hear me pontificating about applying Aristotle's theories to the speeches of our founding fathers and segue almost seemlessly into how these same theories are at work on the commercials that punctuate shows like "Jersey Shore" and "Rock of Love" and "The Bachelorette."

These shows ARE fascinating. And if I were a certified genius, I couldn't watch them for fear of destroying valuable brain cells. But I've never smoked pot, so I figure I am ahead of the game in terms of brain cell count, and can therefore sacrifice a few to enjoy gems like these (and this is a direct quote, bad grammar and all from the season 4 premiere of "Millionaire Matchmaker"):

"Everything is going fabulous. I thought that maybe the age difference we maybe wouldn't have as many things in common, but I like alcohol and cheese."
[said during a date by the 24-year-old cocktail waitress matched with the 40-year-old millionaire]

So, let me catch you up. She is 24 and a party girl. She's also pretty smokin' hot and has little to no interest in settling down. He is 40 and rich and has a wicked garden of hair plugs that he has been obviously cultivating for quite a while. He is sexually attracted to party girls (hey, I'm straight, but even I know she's a hottie) but he wants a wife--and wants one now.

He keeps saying to the camera guys that he just doesn't know how this one will end up. They keep drinking, so that's a good sign. And they eat some cheese and share a veritable quesorgasm (kindly consult previous posts and a Spanish-English dictionary if you're lost).

So, booze and cheese. Oh yeah...she also mentions that they both like the Yankees and Stan's Sports Bar. Seriously, folks, don't we all know people who have married and/or procreated (not necessarily in that order) based on fewer commonalities? So maybe these two kids will make it. He's rich, so he can afford to keep buying her Raspberry Stoli and romano cheese and tanning sessions.

Spoiler Alert: They don't even make it to a second date. Even though they share a solid foundation of love for consuming dairy products while inebriated. Shocking and disappointing.

The point? Well, you just can't make this stuff up. Well, at least I can't make this stuff up. It's just SO bad that it is indescribably, deliciously, satisfyingly GOOD. And if it ever turns out that I actually AM a genius, I hope I'm never so uptight that I become unwilling or unable to give up a brain cell or two for a few moments of enjoyment that only trash TV like this can provide.


Let's Talk About Text, Baby: Quidnunc

Prepare for a logorgasm.

Actually, let me stop right there. If you have never had a logorgasm, or you think you've had one but you're not really sure, then, sorry to tell you this: you haven't. Much like the traditional orgasm, when one comes on, it's pretty undeniable. And as long as you're wondering "was that it?"--well, it wasn't.

So, as I was saying, prepare for a logorgasm.

Hold on. Perhaps you don't even know what I am talking about. Well, let me reassure you that you need the exact same skill set to decipher this word as you needed to sort out the bits and pieces of gynonudomania (see previous post).

Log: having to do with words
Orgasm: again, if you're not sure about this, I can't really help you

So, a logorgasm is an intense feeling of pleasure brought on by words. Not just any words though. Certainly not the whispering of sweet, romantic, precoital nothings in one's ear that bring on the pedestrian orgasm of the anyone-with-genitals-can-have-one-if-the-other-person-tries-hard-enough variety. No, no. I am talking about the kind of waves of bliss that come from words. Just words in their purity and all that goes with them: the denotations, connotations, variations, conjugations...ah, THESE are the stuff of logorgasms.

And I had one today, and in fact, I'm still enjoying the aftershocks.

I am home alone and watching a movie that most critics give only one star, and there it is, written on the wall in pink marker: quidnunc (a gasp). And I say it over and over in my head so I won't forget (gasp gives way to stirrings). And then the handsome protagonist in the movie actually goes to a bookstore, finds a dictionary, and looks it up (stirrings become throbbings). And then I look it up online so I can see its many definitions and usages (moan) and I discover that it comes from the Latin quid nunc meaning "what next" (oh yes) and means gossip or busybody (don't stop!). But this is so good, I can't bear for it to stop, so I tell a few fellow logophiles (throbbings approach climax). And just when I think I simply can't take it any more, I share it with you, my growing number of following logophiles for what can only be described as, well, one helluva logorgasm. (If I smoked, this is where the cigarette would come in, but I think I'll have some chocolate instead.)

I can't wait to use it in writing and casual conversation. Its first known use was in 1709, and frankly, I think it is high time we give this little titillator more air time.

And if you found this posting offensive, you probably aren't one of us (a logophile, that is), and therefore, are incapable of experiencing a logorgasm anyway. So spare us your critical comments and your hate mail and go tell someone how inappropriate this post is. You'll be doing what all quidnuncs do; you just won't be enjoying it nearly as much as the rest of us.


Let's Talk About Text, Baby: Gynonudomania

Gynonudomania. I'm not kidding. This is an actual word. Not yet accepted by the Oxford English Dictionary, it is, nevertheless, being used in some circles. At first, one may be overwhelmed by the seven syllables. But break it down the way our high school English teachers asked us to, and see what you can figure out. No need to brush up on your Latin and Greek roots. Trust me.

gyno: Um, something to do with chicks. Got it.
nudo: Sound it out. Sounds like "nude," right? Yep. Got it.
mania: Crazy obsession about something. Got it.

Got it? Gyno-nudo-mania. You're thinking something along the lines of "liking naked chicks." Well, not exactly. You're really only half-way there. It's not the nakedness so much as the method of getting her naked that puts gynonudomania into the category of fetishism. According to my sources (they are plentiful yet dubious), a person who is into gynonudomania is a person who derives sexual pleasure getting the chick naked by quite literally RIPPING her clothes off her body.

Got it. Gynonudomania. Ripping clothes off a woman, presumably (hopefully!) prior to consensual sex. Fine with me. Just warn me ahead of time so I can wear stuff already in the Goodwill bag. And if you do decide to go all gynonudomaniac on me without warning, you'd better be ultra-handy with a needle and thread or ready to hand over your Macy's card afterward. Probably both.

Upon Learning of My Replacement

Sophia will be taking my place. Sophia. A girl I hate. A girl with hips that are too wide and thighs that rub together when she walks. A girl with saggy breasts in need of a well-fitting bra. A girl who wears different shades of brown during the daytime because it is safe and wears all black at night because she heard somewhere that black is slimming. A girl whose muddy dishwater hair is too long for her age and too frizzy all the time, as if it is in the perpetual state of growing out a perm. A girl who wears the same outdated shade of lipstick every day, regardless of the season. A girl who owns only two pairs of high-heeled shoes. A girl who thinks that an inch-and-a-half qualifies a shoe as high-heeled. A girl whose foot-fat squeezes out over the top when she wears these heels on the rare special occasion. A girl who thinks a special occasion is dinner at Red Lobster. A girl who I would pass by on the street without noticing, or would notice only to comment on how sadly unnoticable she is. A girl HE noticed. A girl--no, THE girl--he picked instead of me.

He's not very tall, but I spotted him in the crowd right away. He wasn't alone. But where was my replacement? Where was the dowdy, frumpy, marble-mouthed, moon-faced girl I had already decided she was? Obviously this was the re-replacement. But then he said, "This is Sophia," and I am sure that my mouth dropped open with bottom lip hanging in quite unladylike fashion. "This is Sophia." Did he just say that? "This is Sophia." THIS this Sophia?

But this is no girl. Sophia is a woman. And she is stunning. And her breasts aren't saggy--they are annoyingly, perfectly perky. Her hair isn't mousy brown and frizzy--it's silky and smooth and golden and falls over her shoulders in big, full ringlets that probably smell like vanilla or jasmine or whatever that smell is that makes men lean over and kiss women without thinking or asking for permission. Her skin is flawless and glowing--not covered in the dull, acne-scarred pall I had decided on for her. She is not wearing safe brown or slimming black--her dress is red. Well, not red, but the color of perfectly cooked cranberries, and I decide now that cranberry is probably what her hair smells like, too. She is not fat, and in fact, not skinny either--her feminine curves seem sculpted in softness that even I want to touch. And her feet? Not the graceless, clumping sledgehammers I had hoped for. Instead, her feet are almost dainty and have been slid into delicate satin stilettos adorned with just-the-right-size rhinestone hearts.

"It's nice to meet you," she says, and my eyes jump to her perfect lips and perfect teeth--straight and white and smiling with genuine warmth. "I've heard so much about you," she practically sings, without the least bit of pretention, but I had already stopped listening. My eyes had already met his--no, had TRIED to meet his, but his eyes were already (or still?) on her, and I knew in an instant that he was hers and that he would never be mine, and worse, that the only person who had noticed or would ever care was me.

Overheard: Hitlerism

Me: Now, what was happening in the 1960s that had a profound impact on all of America, including and especially the rural South?

Devon: 9-11?

Me: No, that was less than ten years ago, remember? Something important was happening in the 1960s that you have been learning about since elementary and middle school. [attempt to reactivate a topic that is arguably OVER-taught in the early grades]

Brian: The Civil War?

Me: Well, that happened MUCH earlier, but you are right to be thinking about issues connected to slavery and its long-term ramifications. [attempt to let student save face and hoping to push thoughts in the right direction in spite of the fact that I KNOW the student is not thinking about these issues]

Luis: Hitlerism?

Me: Nope. And that's still not a word. [attempt to remind student that he has used this non-word in multiple situations, none of which was remotely related to World War II or Nazi Germany]

[During a classroom conversation with sophomores in preparation to read Harper Lee's novel To Kill a Mockingbird.]

Yes, I know it's a terribly important piece of literature for multiple historical, cultural, social, and literary reasons. But somehow I get the feeling this class may suck dry what is left of my already anemic enthusiasm for the the novel. It's going to be a war of attrition. Can I chip away at their ignorance, apathy, and general hatred of reading more rapidly than they can drain my resolve to show them why this book is worth their time and effort? I remind myself (as I so often remind them) that I get paid the same no matter what, which means I can surrender at any time--resort to worksheets and SparkNotes and showing of the movie--and no one outside our little disfunctional classroom community will find out or even care.

I do a quick gut check, take a deep breath, and begin. Fake it 'til you make it. That's my motto. We will make it to the end of the novel and find things to love about it. And I will make them embrace one of the novel's important messages--that human love and compassion are powerful and influential forces for good and can defeat hatred and intolerance and violence--and they will learn this...even if I have to beat it into them.


Don't Let Holiday Relacide Happen to You

[Note: I read somewhere that if you have a blog and you are single, separated, divorced, widowed, or part of the GLBT community, it's practically a law or something that you write a post on being alone during the holidays. In accordance with the aforementioned expectation, I give you the requisite it-sucks-being-alone-during-the-holidays-but-let's-pretend-it-doesn't post. Enjoy.]

Single and alone on Thanksgiving? Look on the bright side. Relative-on-relative homocide rates spike 293 percent on this holiday compared to other days of the year. Okay, I can't back that up with any actual data, but I do know I have personally had to channel the strength of Zeus in order not to shove the big turkey fork into the carotid artery of a particularly annoying relative over more than one holiday spread.

So, besides eliminating the inevitable desire to commit relacide, there are lots of other advantages to spending the holidays alone. And this isn't only for single people; you married folks with annoying parents and/or in-laws should feel free to use one of your sick days to call in and miss today's "festivities." Here's just a short list of things to be thankful for if you must (or choose to) spend today alone:

* If you're a chick, you don't have to listen to the endless droning of announcers and crowds as the relentless sounds of football waft through the air with the smell of burnt rolls.

* If you're a dude, you can have the football games on all day long without fighting for the remote, negotiating for time away from the Macy's Day Parade, leaning around well-meaning bearers of Doritos and pork rinds, or missing important game commentary because of the endless droning of Aunt May about your third cousin's newborn who has colic.

* You don't have to answer the question, "When are you going to get married?" or any of the other [frequently more annoying and distasteful] derivatives (e.g., "You DO like men/women, don't you?" or "Do you think it might be time to lower your standards a bit?" or "You do realize, I hope, that at your age, you are more likely to be killed in a terrorist attack/struck by lightning/attacked by a rabid hyena/commit relacide than get married?") .

* You can drink as much as you want without the fear of letting it slip that Cousin Pete is the ONLY person who doesn't think his toupee looks obviously like a toupee and that when he's not around you semi-affectionately refer to him as Squirrel Pelt Pete.

* You can eat as much as you want without apology, without wishing you'd worn looser pants, without the judging eyes of your grandmother who always said it's a good thing you're so smart because your sister/cousin/niece is "the pretty one." In fact, you can unbutton your pants and slide your hand inside the waistband Al Bundy-style and sit that way all day long if you want. Hell, take your pants off. It's your house.

* If you cook a turkey, you get to pull BOTH sides of the wishbone, guaranteeing wish fulfillment (bonus: you don't have to tell anyone what you wished for).

I guess none of these ideas is particularly unique, and perhaps all are inadequate in staving off the achiness that comes with spending a family-ish holiday alone-ish. But when it comes right down to it, Thanksgiving should be more about personal gratitude than a jockeying for position around the sweet potatoes and big screen TV. That's why this Thanksgiving, I'll be spending a few moments writing down a list of things for which I really ought to remember to be more thankful. Right at the top of that list: the fact that I have family members I love enough to miss today, and friends who love me enough to help me miss them a little less.


Why Victoria's Secret Sales May Skyrocket

Granny panties have never been my thing, but I admit there are too many items in my lingerie drawer that would fall under my mother's don't-you-dare-wear-those-out-of-the-house-because-if-you-get-into-an-accident-the-paramedics-will-see-them advice column. I've typically dismissed this advice under the if-I-get-into-an-accident-I-will-have-probably-soiled-myself-anyway response column.

I've got what I consider to be a healthy mix of undergarments, from cotton briefs to thongs. But based on some new information I have just acquired, I'm going to make a trip to Victoria's Secret very soon and get something special.

Why? Well, I don't want to jinx this, but I feel sure that I am about to let someone make it to third base with me in the very near future, and I want to be ready. I want to feel sexy when it happens, especially because it will likely be a public fondling. In addition, I may have some nearly-nude shots taken, and I really want to look and feel my best. Dieting and working out are too much effort, so I'm going for the quick fix: a lacy new bra-and-panty set (I am considering red or leopard print the front-runners, demi-bra with extra lift and seamless bikini bottom with lycra--again, for extra lift).

How can I be so sure about my imminent frolic? Well, I bought a plane ticket, and I understand the airlines are running a special. Apparently, with each ticket, you get a free x-ray or a complimentary feeling-up. I want them both. I'm sure they will oblige. A free photoshoot AND a groping from someone with a full-time job? That's a better offer than I get from most men. I'll be there early. Just show me which line to get in.

I am very excited about this. I may stop dating altogether and just start hopping little commuter flights for $59 each way so I can try out different folks at airport security. Ideally, I'll get screened by a man, but the idea of gettin' a little sumpin' sumpin' from a stocky female security screener with strong hands and a no-nonsense attitude isn't altogether unappealing. I never did go through that experimental phase in college, so this seems a fairly harmless way to see if I might feel a little spark during the inevitable cupping and rubbing. Afterward, I can treat myself to an eight-dollar Big Mac at the food court, grab a Cinnabon for the ride home, and sleep soundly.

Hey, it's not all about me, you know. I'm just doing my part to keep our country safe. Maybe if you can find a way to put a positive spin on the new security screenings you won't be so freaked out about it. I'm not saying it's time to put a stripper pole in your bedroom, but give your inner prude the day off, spread 'em, and smile for the camera. Your fellow passengers thank you for your cooperation.

Lady Lumps

Okay, I give. Let's change it to "volumptuous." People aren't going to stop saying it that way, and nine times out of ten the word serves as just a thinly veiled euphamism for something between chubby and fat anyway. Women who describe themselves as "volumptuous" OR "voluptuous" usually have plenty of actual lumps under their ill-fitting clothing which, arguably, makes the mispronunciation a more accurate adjective. So I say, let's stop fighting over this one. Let's save our efforts for stamping out "supposably." There will never be a day when society should surrender to that atrocity. But for all the curvy, full-figured, hourglass, healthy, thick, stacked, womanly BBWs with a little boom-pow and some junk in the trunk, I support your bastardization of the English language because, like the guy who stumbled upon Post-Its and made millions, you accidentally invented a word that is better than the original. Long live your volumptuous lady lumps.


Overheard: Cuban Sandwich

Me: Have you ever had a pressed Cuban sandwich?
Students (all aged 16+): What's that?
Me: Doesn't anyone know what a Cuban sandwich is?
Jose: Is that like lasagna?
Beatriz: No, of course not!
Lynette: What's lasagna?
Beatriz: It's cheese.

[During what should have been a discussion about Nora Ephron's essay, "A Sandwich" about what she claims is the best hot pastrami sandwich in the world and which can be bought at Langer's Delicatessen in Los Angeles.]

Cuban sandwich = lasagna = cheese. As if that weren't enough, other points of clarification that needed to be provided to my students included explaining what a bodega is, what you do at a pawnshop, why one might refer to a famous landmark as a "shrine," and why businesses would charge people to use their bathrooms. Suffice it to say that we only got through the first two paragraphs. So much for lesson planning.


Let's Talk About Text, Baby: Differentiate

Education certainly holds no corner market on empty jargon, but we're no slouches either. Schools--especially those designated as underperforming under NCLB (now Race to the Top) after failing to meet AYP for particular subgroups who did not achieve a proficient score in ELA on the MCAS which the Mass DESE says requires implementation of EPPs or IEPs and early intervention through safety nets via the IST which may or may not support the vision of the ILT, RLC, or the PLCs--well, let's just say we are no strangers to jargon. We typically keep a lot of this useless verbiage circulating among the adults, however, preferring to save our valuable time in front of students teaching vocabulary that matters in real life.

So today when I checked the homework of one of my brightest and most diligent students and found that he had used the word "differentiate" in his writing, my English-teacher heart did a quick pitter-patter as I saw a twenty-dollar word gracing the topic sentence. Pitter-patter quickly became palpitations when I realized he had misused the word. Normally, I wouldn't care. Normally, I would just be thrilled that a sophomore spelled it correctly and used it in a context that was in the general universe of its intended meaning.

So, really, it wasn't the misuse that disheartened me, if I'm being honest. It was the particular way he misused it that made my temporal lobe absolutely throb. He had written, "Discipline and abuse must differentiate depending on the situation." Okay, yeah, he's in the ballpark. And when I explained how to use the word correctly, he understood immediately. But in the back of my head, I was remembering how just two days earlier, I had heard a seasoned teacher say something quite similar in one of our [insert acronym] meetings. "The math and science skills will have to differentiate for this to work," he had said, without the least stumble of hesitation. I shuddered with the memory and then did something I usually wouldn't. I said to the kid, "Have you heard this word used a lot lately?" to which he replied, "Yeah." And I said, "Me too. Just be aware that this word is being thrown around a lot, and most people don't know how to use it correctly. Even teachers." And he said, "Uh-huh," and gave me a little grin, and added, "Now that you've explained it, I realize I don't think anyone is saying it right."

"I don't think anyone is saying it right"? Kid, you have no idea how right you are.

So, what does it mean to differentiate? I'll let you pull out your favorite dictionary to get a layperson's definition. But if you want to know what it means within the jargon-rich context of a school like mine, you'll have to ask someone who doesn't work here.

Overheard: The Shotgun

"I hope I have a daughter so I have a good reason to buy a shotgun."

From a 14-year-old freshman who was asked to write in his notebook about how many kids he hopes to have one day and why. Brilliant.


Mr. Big Dog Snob

I have a dog. And when I meet someone else who has a dog, I feel an immediate kinship. We both like dogs. We both are cut from canine-loving cloth. For me, this is enough. Let the bonding begin. Let's talk rawhide versus pigears. Dentachews versus Greenies. Petco versus Petsmart. Crate training, clicker training, obedience training. Many a marriage was built on a shakier foundation of common ground than those spontaneously forged the moment two dog owners meet and circle and sniff one another's proverbial behinds. Fur and sparks fly and all is right in the world.


Look. I like my dog. I like all dogs, actually, but I admit to liking mine best. Still, I can like your dog almost as much as I like my own. I like telling people I own a dog. I especially like telling single men that I own a dog. In the eyes of a single man, I immediately become more interesting, nurturing, and fun-loving the moment I say I have a dog, and for a split second, while Mr. Maybe is imagining that I own a big slobbery lab or a Burmese mountain dog or even a pit bull, he is somehow altogether willing to build a white picket fence around our suburban colonial so our dog (or dogs) will have somewhere safe to play and chase frisbees. But then he asks--and they ALWAYS ask--"What kind?" Don't make me say it. Don't make me say that I don't share my 700-square-foot apartment with a Saint Bernard or a Great Dane or a dalmation. Don't make me say that my dog is a Yorkshire Terrier. Don't make me watch that flash of disappointment darken your face as you feign interest in what you have already decided is more rodent than dog. To the Big Dog Snob, it doesn't matter that my Yorkie is nineteen pounds of pure lean muscle, scrappy, able to outrun a young Bruce Jenner, and once ate an entire bag of Hersey's Chocolate Nuggets (foil wrappers and all) and was none the worse for wear. It doesn't matter because a Yorkie is not a Big Dog, and therefore, inexplicably, not a dog at all. I am fully aware that the moment my lips form the word "Yorkie," visions of doggie hair ribbons and rhinestone-encrusted collars and little outfits and visits to the mall in mommy's purse dance like fermented sugarplums in his head and I have just become a Paris Hilton wanna-be. I want to scream, Wait! It's not what you think! I am not one of THOSE women. I don't think my dog is a baby and I don't dress him like one. I don't give him gourmet dogfood. I don't talk to him like he's a person (well, at least not when anyone is around). I don't have little doggie steps that let him climb onto my bed. If you would just listen, I would tell you that you would like him. I would tell you he's smart, and does tricks, and chases squirrels, and has an attitude, and is no lapdog. I would tell you that he can do anything a Big Dog can do. I would tell you that he is still a Dog with a capital "D" and can hold his own with the Big Dogs at the park just fine, thank you very much, and in fact has humped a 130-pound Rhodesian Ridgeback into submission on more than one occasion. But I know that screaming and explaining and even crying won't help. If Mr. Maybe is a Big Dog Snob, he's no longer listening. He may still be standing there, and if his mama raised him right, he's still maintaining eye contact and nodding and smiling at all the appropriate moments. But gone is the colonial. Gone is the white picket fence. All that remains is the faint scent that lingers after the butt sniffing has ended.


Conversations I'm Tired of Having: The Mobius Strip

Me: Where's your notebook?
Joe Student: I don't have it.
Me: Where is it?
Joe: I don't have it.
Me: I know you don't have it. I'm asking where it is.
Joe: I didn't bring it.
Me: Yes, obviously. Why not?
Joe: Because.
Me: Because is not an answer. WHY didn't you bring it?
Joe: (shoulder shrug plus eye roll)
Me: You don't know?
Joe: Gawhd! Just forget it!
Me: I would just like to know why it is you didn't bring your notebook. Do you have a pencil?
Joe: No.
Me: Why not?
Joe: Forgot it.
Me: But how did you make it through five classes today without anything to write on or write with? Am I the first teacher to ask you to do some work today?
Joe: Man, why do you have to make such a big deal out of EVERYTHING? Just quit talking and go teach.

At this point, I consider my options. Smacking the kid across the mouth with the back of my hand would be the most immediately satisfying action, but carries with it the very slight risk of being fired and/or arrested for assault. I say "very slight" because obviously I would do it when no one else is looking and lie about it afterward. I realize, too, that I might leave a red handprint on his smug mug and I have failed to plan for this inevitable and all-too-frequent moment by leaving all my oranges and socks and home. A quick mental scan of my other options is rudely interrupted by Jiminy Cricket (well, my conscience is actually a talking cockroach named Vincent who now insists on being called Vinny-C since he started watching "Jersey Shore," but this is a story for another time). The point is, I am jarred into reality by a wad of paper flying through my peripheral vision and I remember that I am a teacher, and I value my job and my reputation, and (sigh) I like my kids. Even this one. Yeah, he's a brat. But maybe when he's no longer 15 and wearing his pants down under his butt crack he could turn out alright. And I want to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem. He's here; I might as well give him something to do. So I walk over to my desk, pull out a pencil and sheet of paper, shove my ego into the bottom drawer next to the three-hole punch, and walk back to my unprepared, would-be, could-be, young scholar . I place the items on his desk, force a smile, and say, "Okay, let's get started."

How does it end? Does he thank me and get to work? Or fly out of the room in a flurry of righteous indignation while cursing a blue streak? Or roll his eyes and sit in motionless defiance for the rest of the class? Well, that depends. It depends on something. And when I figure out what that "something" is, I will write a book about working with urban adolescents to overcome their task avoidance and self-defeating behaviors. I expect that will make me rich or famous or both. And even though I'll be rolling in the dough, I will keep teaching, because it's a labor of love for me. But I'll tell you this: Joe Smartmouth had better watch his tone, because with my high-paying speaking gigs and the royalty checks from my book coming in, I will be able to afford a VERY good lawyer.


The Problem with Stereotypes: It Isn't What You Think

The problem with stereotyping is not what racial minority groups and the liberal media would have us believe. The problem with stereotyping is NOT that it is a form of unfair and incorrect bias. No, no, no. In fact, if I had their phone numbers, I would personally call Al Sharpton for African-Americans and Anderson Cooper for the differently-abled and Rosie O'Donnell for those with non-traditional sexual orientations and tell them to take a load off, kick off those leather loafers, plop down into their La-Z-Boys, and throw back a forty, or a milkshake, or a Seabreeze, or whatever. They've been working hard alongside their colleagues, fighting for the rights of the unloved, differently-loved, and unlovable, and I dare say that at this point, they've really made some headway. I know, I know...I'm a white, college-educated, middle-class woman. I BARELY fall into a discriminated class, and do so only by virtue of my having breasts. The women's libbers really took it on the well-powdered chin for us girls in the 70s and 80s, and as a benefactor, I refuse to let the lost lives of countless bras burned at the stake go forgotten and in vain. When I find the random pubic hair on my soda can or sit helplessly as a talking head above the cleavage with which my boss is having a ten-minute conversation about how his wife won't let him play golf on the weekends, I'm not offended. I'm grateful that they haven't forgotten I am, after all, a woman. I may have to bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, open my own doors, put on my own coat, carry my own groceries, and pay for my own dinner on dates, but at least in the workplace I can count on some ogling, albeit sans groping. Still, it's nice to be objectified once in a while.

But I digress. Stereotyping IS a problem. But not because it's unfair to paint old Asian women as bad drivers, politicians as sleezebags, and the Irish as drunkards. It may NOT be nice to paint them all with the same brush, but it is also NOT wholly inaccurate. And before you get all up in arms about my prejudices, just relax, Senator Eun Joo McNeil. The problem with stereotypes is not that they are inaccurate, but that they are typically SO accurate it hurts. There are enough morons in each demographic slice to keep the generalities going. And herein lies the problem for me--and all of us.

I am a woman. An emotional, PMS-suffering, shoe-loving, baby-wanting, chick-flick-watching, chocolate-craving woman. Without apology, I embrace and embody all that it is to be an XX chromosome bearer. However, I refuse to have ALL female-related stereotypes laid on my back like so much baggage on a packmule without being asked if each applies. In accordance with new baggage restrictions, please consider the following before traveling by airplane or said packmule:

* Just because I am divorced does not mean I'm bitter.
* Just because I am over 40 does not mean I'm desperate.
* Just because I am single does not mean I have cats.
* Just because I teach does not mean I can't do.
* Just because I am brunette does not mean I don't have fun.
* Just because I believe in God does not mean I am gullible.
* Just because I am a registered Republican does not make me evil.
* Just because I watch "Jersey Shore" does not mean I am dumb.
* Just because I read poetry does not mean I am smart.
* Just because I am white doesn't mean I can't dance.
* Just because I am a woman doesn't mean I can't swear, screw and scrap like a man.

The point is, if you are a gullible Christian, a desperate single woman, a bitter divorcee, a boring brunette, or any of the other aforementioned stereotypes, please consider the damage you are doing to all of us by refusing to be your own special kind of stupid or smart or smug. It's hard enough being the imperfect me, but to have to live down all the low expectations that go along with belonging to your clubs is more than one girl can handle. I don't pay dues, so I shouldn't have to bear your charter. And frankly, neither should you.


"You should start a blog," she said.

But I already have one, I thought. Your dating stories are really funny, she said. And I think a lot of people would find them amusing, she said. Some people make a lot of money if their blogs catch on, she said. And I thought, I wonder if MY blog has caught on. I wonder if people have been visiting and revisiting, hoping that my single, sarcastic post was enough to get people to wait for my next installment. Maybe I would find scores--no, hundreds!--of comments from web surfers begging me for more of my wit and promise of wisdom. But I don't remember the name of my blog, I thought. Or my password. Or my login. I clicked on "Sign In" and prayed a silent prayer to the Blog Gods. And it turns out that they listen. The Blog Gods, that is. Because up came my blog. One solitary post. No comments. No visitors. No money. The Blog Gods are listening, but apparently no one else is.