Substitute Teacher

May 17, 2011
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Hey Roland,
Feels like just the other day we were sharing diet cokes in the teacher’s lounge, trading horror stories about chaperoning the Butterfly Dance, and here I am in the blink of an eye forty miles from Johnson, Michigan, wringing my hands over whether it’s Johnny C. or Janny C. with the deadly peanut allergies. Times have changed, huh? I bet you’re choking on your lunch right now, laughing your head off at my first-day doldrums, you lucky son of a b****. I bet as you read this the only burden on your day is making sure no one has the same color homework folder and pulling out that macaroni skyscraper project for the fifth year in a row (lazy administration!) while I was sweating in my loafers on wild goose chase for room 514 B. But of course I can’t truly complain. Elizabeth’s been really inspired on that ceramics wheel. Who knows, she might get inspired enough to add a member to our family! And actually Elkwood is a heck of a neighborhood (better than that outhouse on 15th St. we called a home, anyway). Well, I gotta run, looks like Mark W. can’t finish the marble maze, you know how it is. Have fun not getting lost in a new school, and send Julie my love, hope you two finally found a dinner table that fits in that crazy living room of yours with the piano and the zebra paintings.


You were right man. You told me I just had to give it a few months, and you were so right. At first I felt like it took an hour to navigate these dungeon hallways and take attendance in these seas of kids, but I gave it a chance, for Elizabeth’s sake, and Glass Ceiling is starting to feel like home. The kids, they’re so polite and eager and don’t knock over their block castles (remember that time “no legs” Nancy H. toppled Gregory V.’s army base that took up the whole rainbow rug? Man, good thing you and those basketball arms of yours could help me hold Gregory back, cause it looked like he was gonna tackle Nancy right out the window). They’re so nice I sometimes feel like I fell asleep on the drive from Johnson and have been dreaming about some impossibly ideal school. And if that wasn’t enough, I know you’d never believe this in a million years but, I’ve found a teacher’s lounge that surpasses the Batcave! I liked the cave like anyone else, Roland. (That time you organized “French fry Fridays” with your cousin’s catering service was unforgettable.) But, the Cave never had fresh imported muffins and stained glass coffee tables. You gotta admit I hit the big time. But I must admit, there are a few things that Johnson has over Glass Ceiling. For one, the Janitorial staff seems to have taken a very long break they have yet to come back from. All these apple seeds, all over the floor, the cafeteria, the playground, the bathrooms, man! I’m not one to critique healthy eating, but at the rate these kids are going Glass Ceiling could very well turn into an orchard by the time we unpack at home. Also there seems to be this one female teacher. She’s also new. Her name is Fernald, Fernin, Fernoid, something like that. She has short hair and is always carrying this big woven sack around. Freaky, I know. Anyways, for some reason I have my muffin, I got my coffee, and I’m about to tear through the business section when here she is, burning a hole in my forehead with her eyes. It almost makes me want to avoid the lounge. But that’s not important. Nice talking to you Roland but I’ve gotta get back to the class room, we’re setting up the Christmas play and Rachel W. needs help with her wings-Wait a minute is that Kid jumping off the roo-


I’d understand if you were disappointed in me, but things aren’t quite what they seem at Glass Ceiling and I don’t know if I can stay here. You’re probably wondering how such a wonderful place filled with good children, deluxe lounges and excellent residential living would ever be left behind by anyone in their right mind, but I’m starting to realize that there’s more than one layer to this place. We saved that kid I saw trying to jump, in case you were wondering. And frankly we’re not quite sure how he got there. Some mumblings about motorcycle crystal ball and dying for freedom. I don’t know. He also kept on saying he wasn’t a sheep, but we assured him he could play any part in the Christmas play he wanted if this was why he was on the roof. Man, back at Johnson the biggest dilemma of the day was when Charlie K. spilled glitter on his clothes while making a Mother’s day card (don’t even get me started on you and me having to assure him that glitter comes out in wash while he was crying), and now we have suicide attempts. I was still kinda rushed from that whole experience so I was hoping that at least the play would go on without a snag and something would make me feel collected, but this wasn’t meant to be. Before the three wise men even showed up, some Armando kid sped in like a bullet from nowhere and toppled the Christmas tree, the Christmas tree that we spent a month making ornaments for and should’ve been far too heavy for this child. He wasn’t finished either. He went on to declare God a made-up story and warned us to watch out for the, what was it, Life Eliminators? Donald from the science department tried to pick him up and bring him to the office but some other kid sped out of the library entrance and started pelting Donald with apples, calling him that Life Eliminator thing. I was hoping after that fiasco I might be able to find some solace in a muffin at the lounge, but who shows up? That’s right, that strange teacher lady. Not only does she stare at me, she saunters up and asks me if I liked the Christmas play, as if it were some cruel joke. Before I mustered up my fury, she suddenly grabs my waist, pushes her face an inch from mine and whispers to me “Isn’t standing up against big brother such a rush of intoxicating attraction?” My god, what’s become of my life? I don’t know what to do Roland, Elizabeth seems to be making more and more pottery pieces everyday, I don’t know how I’ll explain any of this without sounding like a three-eyed alien. The principal Mr. Mollis is about to review my experience and talk about what a good teacher I’ve been, but I don’t think I’ll be able to sit through that without having a breakdown.
See you soon (hopefully),

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