The Last Lack of Standard

Um, yeah, inappropriate…

“I like to entertain. I was at my nephew’s birthday party; I dressed up like a clown. He said, ‘Uncle Emo, you’re a terrible clown. I wanna see a trick.’ You know…So I took his dog, and I twisted him into a balloon…You know…”

Emo Philips

In the summer that brought us the insouciant appropriateness of Seth McFarlane’s “Ted”, and this past week that saw the ending of “Toddler Fight Cub” back east, we have approach the idea of what’s inappropriate.

While Kate’s 5th birthday party was celebrated in a theater we had rented during Pixar’s “Brave” opening weekend, truthfully, we all filed into the theater with Kate making it known to everyone that she rather would have seen “Ted”…

Trust me, there are some lines that even I would not cross.  Nevertheless, it was hard, given the ubiquitousness of the billboard print ads, none of which looked like:

Rather this:

This sort of thing easily represents the sense of humor that Katelyn has.

Preparing for her birthday though, meant a number of trips to the local Party City.  While there, standing in line to pay for the balloon order, I discovered yet another line, that final line that finally showed me where my own boundaries lay.

To whit:

No kidding – Hellraiser costumes for Toddlers!

Some men are born inappropriate, some learn it, and other have inappropriate thrust upon them in line at the party supply store.  This costume is inappropriate.  Even I, who often finds the same things funny that my 5th and 6th grade boys find funny, found this inappropriate.

I have finally reached maturity at age 49.



Over the final two years of my time at my old school, rare were the opportunities to just sit back and listen to music while I worked.  On the final day, after my students had been sent off to their destiny in middle school, this might have been an appropriate soundtrack:

The last thing I remember was climbing up the stairs
I threw the window open in challenge and despair
I don’t know what I needed
I needed time
I needed to escape
I saw the future turn
Upside-down and hesitate.

Where is the ripcord, the trapdoor, the key?
Where is the cartoon escape-hatch for me?
No time to question the choices I make
I’ve got to follow another direction
REM, “Accelerate”

Truth be told, the last thing I remember was closing the cabinet door on these guys:

My old classroom’s mascots, left behind for the new tenants: (L-R) Maximus, Minimus, Quintus, and Proximo

With all manner of speed, I had hustled to get out of my classroom on that final day of school.  And despite all manner of delays that kept me in my classroom on the final day longer than I had intended, when I closed the door on my old classroom mascots above–now a gift to my good friends who would be forced to move into my trailer space for next school year–I could walk out out of my school’s office to the parking lot with no plans to look back.

But with the due haste of someone who wanted nothing more than to be gone from this place, nothing more was what I got once I had left it.

Summer vacation descended upon my life not as I had intended, but with its own mind.  And it had on its mind a chance to disappear. I didn’t plan on falling off the grid for 7 or so weeks, but summer job aside (and with it, its own unique experiences…), I guess being content with present circumstances can leave someone feeling like there’s nothing significant to share.  To paraphrase Tolstoy, happy people all look alike, while unhappiness is inherently unique to the individual.

I guess I was actually happy.

So I’ve spent the summer, like a war movie caricature, relieved that no body parts have gone missing (save the hair, which went on hiatus way long ago…).  I’ve spent the summer in a sort of hyper sleep, in stasis, packed away emotionally like the collection of boxes I’d brought home from my classroom to store in my garage until I get the keys of my new classroom.  But if spring for a teacher means the end rather than the seasonal rebirth, the dog days of August means the rebirth; autumn is coming.  My new principal has begun to email the school staff.  I have been asked to update my school’s web page for my classroom.  And, then a text message from my friends:

“Hey!  We are in ur old room today…”

Discussion ensues as to classroom logisitics.  They don’t want to be in that room any more than I had wanted to be.  But one might recall that they weren’t given a choice.  Nevertheless, I had to ask:

“Oh, and don’t forget to say hi to the bulldogs in the cabinet for me.  :o)”

This conversation is taking place amid a stack of around-town errands.  About a half an hour later, I get the reply:

“We have already said hello to them!”

At last, the release from this summer stasis has begun.  While I still have my own mountain of detritus to sift through in my classroom while I unpack, at least I’ve put behind what was once in my old classroom.

It’s also good to know who let the dogs out.