The other day, I was reading a summary of an interview with Molly Ringwald about her forthcoming book. Seriously, I’m not going to read the original text of an interview with Molly Ringwald about her forthcoming book. I’m underemployed, but not completely without stuff do to. Anyway, she said that in the course of getting all her Molly Ringwaldy thoughts on paper, the best advice she got was from Bret Easton Ellis, who told her — and I’m paraphrasing here — that if she cared what people thought about what she wrote, she shouldn’t write. My first reactions was, “Damn. She can just call effing Bret Easton Ellis and tell other people about it.” And my second reaction was that it pretty much made sense and I’d really like Bret Easton Ellis to call me, maybe.
But anyway, without worrying a bit about what you think, here are two very short stories:
I don’t really miss teaching this semester, but I do miss the first week of school. I always treated it like the first day of prison, but in a good way. As in I was going to dig my foxhole before the sun set, make hay while the sun still shone, and kick some ass and take some names. And, if I had time, explain why you really do need to make hay while the sun still shines because you can’t make hay at night.
But really, the reason why I missed it was because of the tone-setting that could be done and the way I had sort of figured it out in the past few years. I started learning how to pull off the “I want you to leave better than you came to me” speech and hit all the “this doesn’t work without your contributions” notes pretty much every time. I had even figured out how to almost keep texting out of the mix until late September. And, I was getting really good at countering the mid-semester slump/work quality drop-off with a good, “You know, this is hard for me — and I hate to do this — but we need to talk” speech.
I could always count on the dudes in the class who had been hit with post-Pacing Break/pre-Thanksgiving dumpings to involuntarily groan and brace themselves for the worst.
A few years ago, the guy I was dating moved to Indiana. He had grown up in the Midwest, where being emotionally distant replaces neighbor-watching as the local sport. Having returned to the very flat and mayonnaise-as-salad-dressing motherland, he had no knack for looking out windows, peering through fences, and figuring out other people’s deals. Luckily, I quickly surmised that the teenager next door was totally dealing meth.
Because really. Who drives a Saturn that fast, with the radio that loud, AND owns a pit bull? No one but a Midwestern teenage meth dealer. Kid was Pinkman before Pinkman. In fact, he should probably sue Vince Gilligan.
Anyway, that drug dealer was easy to deal with. Cross the street carefully, be mindful of strange pit bulls, don’t get chummy or make eye contact. But I’m struggling with the etiquette issues in re: the dealers hanging out in my parking lot every night. We recognize each other on sight, and I don’t really want to wave or acknowledge them, but they’re becoming fixtures of my day-to-day life. As summer winds down, I catch myself starting to wave involuntarily every evening.
I’m hoping we get a cold snap soon and they move along.