July 13, 2006

Can't Call Me Teacher's Boy Any More

There's a rarely-spoken fact about high school that's nevertheless universally understood: that being, no one is beyond the cruel reach of peer ridicule. No social group is immune from criticism, from the mightiest jocks to the lowliest stoners. Everyone has a chink in the armor everyone else is eager to exploit.

Oh, sure, jocks are often hoisted upon a hallowed pedestal, but whispered in the dark hallways by fellow students is the fact that the star running back is also about as bright as a Christmas tree bulb. Oh, sure, "Erwin The Geek" may have aced the last 28 exams and is the only person in history who can calculate the entire value of "pi" in his head, but he has enough acne oil oozing from his face to lubricate an 18-wheeler, and he throws like a total girl. And so on and so forth.

Myself, I had a plethora of personal faults and failings my fellow students could have belittled me about, and indeed they did. For example, I still, to this day, get the occasional guffawed comment from childhood friends about the time I shot myself in the foot with a B.B. gun. Or the time I lost a tooth after dropping from a pull-up bar. Or the time I. . . you know what. . . I don't have enough column space to list all of my embarrassing anecdotes. Suffice it to say, my nickname was "Spaz," which should tell you everything you need to know about my less-than-stellar high school reputation.

Yet, despite all the ammunition that I constantly made readily available to my fellow students with which they could have easily decimated my fragile mental state, the one theme they constantly fell back on never ceased to confound and infuriate me.

I was a very good student in high school. I wasn't "Erwin the Geek" smart, but I received my share of "A" grades. Likewise, I wasn't a world-class athlete, either, but I was good enough to be a respectable varsity wrestler.

So, without being able to conveniently pigeonhole me into one of the usual corners, the criticism I often heard leveled my way was: "Yeah, well, what do you expect? His parents are teachers."

This barb always struck me as incredibly unfair. It was maddening to think that all my accomplishments could be dismissively waved away because my parents happened to teach at the same school I attended. If I made the honor roll, it was never because of anything I did; no, it was because my parents were teachers.

What made the "because my parents were teachers" zinger all the more infuriating was that I couldn't adequately respond to the charge. I couldn't, for example, shoot back, "No, they're not!" because they quite obviously were. There was my Mom, walking to the office. There was my Dad, standing in front of the classroom. It wasn't something I could necessarily deny.

I would often stew for minutes on end, trying to think up an appropriate response, something that would have equally as much punch while being equally as unfair, but I could never come up with anything. Somehow, firing back "Yeah, well, your parents are dairy farmers," just didn't seem to cut it.

But now, at the age of 31, and with my parents having officially retired from teaching this year, I can finally, FINALLY respond to the "because my parents are teachers" remark by confidently stating "No they're not!"

Sure, it's an empty and deeply unsatisfying victory, but I can't claim victory over much of anything nowadays, so I'll take what I can get.

Posted by Ryan at July 13, 2006 09:03 AM | TrackBack

Everyone has a chink in the armor everyone else is eager to exploit.

Boy, you ain't kidding. I let this chink wear my armor once and a press gang dragged him off to a textiles factory in Los Angeles. It was horrible.


Posted by: Joshua at July 13, 2006 01:49 PM

People think we've NIPped racism in the bud, but I don't think we've done a GOOK job of it at all.

Posted by: Ryan at July 13, 2006 02:11 PM

Well it's hard to teach people new ways of doing things. The way people pick things up, it's less of a learning curve than it is a very steep SLOPE. Of course you don't want to RAG on people or they might get SPOOKed and ZIP up. Or their symapthy for the entire issue might FADE.

Posted by: Joshua at July 13, 2006 03:08 PM
StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble It!