Tag Archives: chalkboard washing

The Course of Life

Keeping with the introspective theme of my last post, I started to think about how and why people are the way that they are.  How did they become the person that we see before them today?  What in their past made them such a nice, genuine, and caring person?  What in their past made them such a tremendous jackass?  Then, like any good intellectual, I went back to the things that I’ve learned in my education, primarily in my psychology classes.  Every person is the type of person that they are because of what happened to them when they were a child.

Think about it.  When we were kids, there were ten million decisions our parents made in order to attempt to raise us the correct way.  Looking at the books, nearly every parent made roughly five million wrong decisions that completely fucked us up.  And that’s not to say that mistakes aren’t normal.  I mean, there a lot of people who don’t circumcise their sons, something that, if you ask any guy, is a terrible, terrible mistake.

When I was a kid, I never liked it when my parents were super affectionate.  Mostly because, unbeknownst to them, I wasn’t actually their child, but rather a crafty panda that managed to pull the ultimate switcheroo when their true child and I were infants.  So since I always was like, “Mommmmm, stop that,” she did.  And because of the less and less affection throughout my life, apparently (according to my textbooks) I’m a selfish, arrogant, bitter, jackass.  Apparently.  I disagree.  I think those books just aren’t giving me my due.

But it’s not just the parents, it’s our teachers and social group too.  Anyone who has ever had a class in school with me knows that I don’t talk a lot during class whenever the teacher asks questions.  It’s not because I don’t know the answer, nor is it because I’m not confident of the answer.  I generally am very confident that I know the answers to most of the questions my teachers asked in class, because I am one smart motherfucker.  It’s rather because I always feel uncomfortable with raising my hand and talking in front of the entire class.  I’ve tried to come up with every possible explanation to this, but then one day it hit me:  It was because of Mrs. B in first grade.

You see, we were in the middle of the “life education” part of the curriculum when we “learned” what a penis and vagina and buttocks and breasts were.  Not because they wanted us to know about what these were, but because it was part of the whole, “Hey, nobody should touch you here, or here, or here.  And if they do, tell someone.”  Well, it came to the point where Mrs. B asked us if we knew what this part of the boy’s anatomy was (as she pointed to the crotch area of a doll that, of course, had no cock).  I’m sitting there, thinking, “I know what it is!  I’ve got one of those areas!  I’m gonna raise my hand and let everyone know how smart I am!”  So I raised my hand.  Mrs. B called on me and I said in my the confident and proud voice I could produce and said loud enough for everyone to hear, “Those are your Private Parts!”

Little did I realize that this was wrong.  Snickers seemed to come from left and right, front and back, and, somehow, up and down.   Mrs. B had this little shit-eating grin on her face that seemed to say, “Aw, how cute.  He’s so silly and dumb.”  But she soon wiped that grin away and simply said, “No, John.  This is called your penis.”

So there I sit, head buried in my hands as my entire class was laughing at me as I was told by a woman that the thing between my legs was a penis.  I had known that the thing was called a penis, but I had always known to call it my private parts, and I had just never really put two and two together that maybe “private parts” was just a codeword for penis, because apparently the word penis is offensive.  But ever since then I always worry that the answers that seem so obvious to me are ones that are completely absurd to everyone else.  And thus I never raise my hands in class, or speak up at all for that matter.

Then, I started to think about other events in my life that have grown into these huge, seemingly negative, aspects of my personality.  I remember this one time, in third grade, it was my week to wash the chalkboards.  Every day for that week, my board washing partner, Maggie, and I would have to get up about five minutes before school ended and erase the chalkboard, and then wipe it down with dampened sponges.  Normally, the teacher would either remind the people who washed the boards it was time to do so, or we would simply not be doing anything at that particular point.  Well, on one of my days, it was different.  Mrs. R was reading to us from a book and it was getting dangerously close to the end of the day.  Now, I didn’t really care for being read to, so I was watching the clock.  Not only that, but I really didn’t want to stick around school any longer than I had to in order to wash the boards when I could just as easily get it done during the reading.  But the teacher didn’t remind us, and Maggie was just sitting there listening like I was probably supposed to.  I tried to get her attention, but I couldn’t.  So I looked at Mrs. R and made the universal ‘watch the time” signal by pointing to my imaginary wristwatch and tapping.  Mrs. R didn’t like that.  She thought I was telling her to “wrap it up, bitch,” when really, I was simply asking her, “Hey, I’m the center of the universe, and it’s close to the time I’m supposed to wash the boards, so should I get up or wait for a little longer, bitch?”  So she went off on a little tangent about how she, “knows what time it is and doesn’t need people being rude just so they can get out of school on time.  And it’s about time for you to wash the boards, so why don’t you get up and do that since you’re so anxious.”  I was devastated.  Again, I embarrassed myself in front of the whole class, pissed off a teacher, and all because I simply was trying to be a good student and be vocal about a possible issue that might arise.  And this, my panda fans, is why yours truly is usually so non-confrontational, and has taken to the safe-haven of the Internet to do my dirty work.

Finally, I remember a couple of times when I was one of those really awkward, middle-school aged, puberty stricken little boy.  Now, this particular event is just one of many of extremely similar events in my life, but this will serve sufficiently as an example. It was at the time when I liked this girl named Theresa.  I was, like, thirteen, I think?  So this girl was everything.  She was perfect.  She was going to be my wife.  She was going to be my baby-mama.  And like every new teenage boy swooning over a girl, I decided to get a whole group of people together, where we just so happened to both be there.  It was me, my friend Charlie, Theresa, and some of her friends.  Now, we went to go see one of those funny movies.  You know, one of those non-threatening, low-key kind of pseudo  dates that guys think that they’re on but the girl, when she finds out about the guys intentions, is just like, “um, no.  I just wanted to see a movie with my friends.  I didn’t even know you were coming.”

But either way, at the end of the movie, Charlie and I went off to go be picked up by his parents, and Theresa and her friends went to do the same at the other end of the mall.  Now, Charlie was always smooth with the ladies, even at the young, tender age of thirteen.  So he went up and gave all the girls hugs, paying special attention to hold the hug with Theresa a second or two longer (he also had a crush on Theresa at the time).  So I (feeling insulted since, again, I was one of those dumbass boys who thought that if you talked to a girl it was the same as a date) started to walk up to give a hug to the girls, too.  But then I got the worst possible reaction from her and her friends: They started to walk away.  So, not to be one to be ignored, I was like, “Can I get hugs, too?”  They all stopped and stared as if I had just called them a bitch to their face, or something horrible like that.  And they begrudgingly were like, “OK,” and all gave me one of those kind-of half-hugs like you do to someone you don’t really know all that well but is going through a tough time but you really aren’t the biggest fan of them and the situation they are going through really isn’t that bad or whatever.  So, needless to say, I felt dejected.

And this still is one of those things that I struggle with to this day.  How do I show affection to women?  Am I allowed to hug them?  Or should I just kind of give them a high-five or something?  How do I let a woman know, without having to actually come out and speak my true feelings like an adult, that I like her?  Or, on the flip side, how do I let a woman know that I care about them as a person and a friend without giving the implication that I want to stick my private parts inside of them?

But whichever way you look at it, there are truly millions of instances that could ruin your life and change you as a person that you don’t even realize.  Every decision your parents have made, every interaction with every one of your friends, every thing a teacher taught you make you who you are.  Most of these things seemingly fuck you up, but whatever.  I guess it makes us cool.  All we can really do is be happy that our parents at least tried.  God help whichever unfortunate sperm will end up being my child.  Realizing you were born because of interspecies relations is probably going to fuck that thing up more that I ever will be able to.

Take it easy,

-Panda

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