The first time I ever taught a creative writing class, I was sweaty. I’m not talking clammy kind of “cute female” precipitation. I’m talking showered in a sauna of a wet sock smell. I was drenched in a scent so specific I can only title it raw ape. The first time I ever taught a creative writing class, I put on my best pair of shoes, my mother’s. These five inch thick leather extravaganzas were the clunkiest kind of fabulous. Cheap Italian soles. Smooth buckles.
I walked into the room full of high school students, scented with Eau de Raw Ape laced up with cosmetic, clunky confidence on my feet. As a writer, I think ink dynamite. I was ready to teach these young writers, what it meant to battle for glory with language. As an ape clunk, I think fight or flight and these kids saw through me.
I placed my #1 Teacher mug on the table. The mug that was a Christmas gift from my Mom. The mug I asked her to buy for me. And gave her money for. These kids knew. I wrote down my name, Mrs. Conbonsky, on the board. The fourteen year old super-jock, that probably avoids potatoes, pasta and bread during the day and binge eats kale at night, screamed, “Does that say Mrs. Condomsky? I don’t have my glasses.”
I turned as red as his beet salad. I’m a nervous B inverter. I had to own it now: this was war.
“I am Mrs. Condom-sky.”
The class giggled.This is the sign that I have failed as a creative writing teacher, failed as a human, and should probably set my mom’s shoes on fire, making the clunky fashion statement scatter into ash across the classroom.
I took a sip from my self-bought Christmas present. Better than the loving embrace of shoes and a self-bought mug.
“Alright class, we are going to do a lesson on how to build the home of your story.”
I began to gibber on auto-pilot repeating the lines in front of this class, which I practiced over and over last night. This class, which was resembling more and more like the cast of Peanuts, seemed to be increasingly disinterested.
The PowerPoint experienced a glitch that lasted 15 heartbeats.
The Peanuts Cast looked disengaged. I started to flap my arms around like an ostrich, trying to seem passionate about my lesson. The torture PowerPoint ended and I realized I still had an hour left of class. I zipped through 50 slides in 20 minutes.
“What’s our assignment?” asked a little brown-haired boy in the back.
“I’m glad you asked,” Charlie Brown, “It’s right here.”
In a victorious lift, I placed the stack of worksheets on my desk. A victory sneeze followed. Ka-Pow! My ostrich flappers moved without my consent after my sneeze. I knocked down my hot mocha all the way down the assignments, onto my desk, down to the floor. The mug shattered.
I watched the blitz: each drop of the chocolate coffee reach rock bottom in rapid succession. The class yodelled with glee. I’m sure they were screaming “Womp-Womp! Mrs. Condom-Sky!”
Drenched, in the sticky mess of victory, the students chuckled and I somberly slammed my face into the pile.
I stayed there for 20 heartbeats. I took the stack and threw pages across the room. I wondered if my mother would reimburse me for the five buck token of “her” affection.
The Cast of Peanuts scrambled, whispering nervously.
A little blonde hair girl in a pink dress stayed behind. She picked up one of the stained worksheets. “I found the class interesting, even if it was short.”
In building a safe haven, you have to go through war to earn respect.
“That means a lot, Sally Brown.”
“What did you just call me?”