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May 10

“Love should be full of anger,” it began, and she thought, well mine is.

—“Why Do the Heathen Rage?” by Flannery O’Connor


Dear Dixie,

So Fatima gets unlimited access to The Globe of Happiness until Wednesday, May 26, the last day of school.  Fatima will need to keep her mouth real shut, I have a feeling, around the other girls and her parents.  Just a feeling I have.

Anyway, for reasons of pure revenge and the vigorous seeking of fun when we’re not seeking knowledge and eating enormous wads of candy, part of the tradition I want to start during the infamous vexillology week is the opportunity to deface my picture on the cover of the infamous examination packet and hand it in without the fear of a seventh and eighth grade honor council investigation.  If you’re a teacher of vexillology of hormonal teenagers and children and you’re thin-skinned you’re in the wrong racket. 

My picture is a color photograph I pasted in there and I’m smiling like a maniac and I’m wearing a coat and tie and my hair looks pretty good and they get to mark it up.  They have to take the examination first … then they get to spend what time remains on getting me back for educating them so well.  There isn’t a penalty … I don’t get all huffy … and I don’t criticize their drawing skills.  I tell them I like the attention, good or bad, but they can’t be nasty, use cuss words, or draw something sexual.  I pronounce the word sexual … secks-shull.  I don’t believe they know what I just said.

Anyway, here are their near-the-end-of-school feelings expressed through the world-changing power of adolescent humor, imagination, and the humbling nature of vexillology … 

  • Many, many, many … have drawn the intersection of a sniper scope’s reticule between my eyes
  • A snake has crawled through my brain and its head is poking out one ear and the tail is coming out the other ear
  • I have a chicken on each shoulder and both chickens are evil
  • Round, black sunglasses with loop ear rings
  • My arms, in several cases, have been extended and hands and fingers have been added and I’m enthusiastically hanging birds with both hands … or if I’m hanging a bird with just one hand the other hand is holding The Teaching Stick and the business end of The Teaching Stick is dripping blood
  • Other images drawn on the page: Georgia History tests in angry campfires, severed heads with the mouths still screaming and the eyes still wide open (particularly creepy), space aliens holding The Teaching Stick, The Teaching Stick broken in two, the chicken (smiling and being happy and floating in space), a lot of underarm hair, a group of leprechauns who are alleged to live up my butt, and the numbers 666
  • Various messages are extended to me from my vexillologists in word balloons or in headlines, for example: You pick your nose when no one is looking! … Nice mullet plugs! … Seek knowledge now! … If you pretend to like me I’ll give you an A! … Flags are awesome! … Hail the chicken! … Cluck the chicken! … Get over your hair! … Are you ready to stand tall before the man?

Most told the truth about who their favorite teacher was.  And for the question about what type of animal does the word pennon come from … well … it surely ain’t a pig or a raccoon. 

It’s a bird, but not a chicken.

They’re listening, though, and remembering some of what I’ve said and what they’ve read and discussed, and that makes me happy.  I’ve said to them since August: Don’t ever leave a multiple choice question or a fill-in-the blank answer … blank.  You might get it right.  Use your imagination.

But I’ve never told them that their imaginations—right or wrong or somewhere in between or in outer space—might make a weary teacher live for another day of academic mischief.  I’ve never told them that, because I’ll bet they already know it.

They’re giggling at me.

And I’m laughing so hard I’m about to pass out at my desk in the back—while I’m grading their infamous examinations and reviewing their evil artwork.

They’re kindly asking if they did an outstanding job defacing their teacher.

They sure clucking did.



Next Entry ... May 11: The Great Unfurling Of Their Flags