I used to be a teacher. I wasn’t a very good one, but I taught nonetheless. I think one of the reasons I totally blew at teaching was because I had 36 students in one class, 9 of whom were on medication for behavior/control issues. They were little assholes. The other reason was because the school where I taught? Nestled in a community as frightening as anything found in The Wicker Man. Generations of families lived in this scary little town and if you weren’t born and bred there then you were pretty much the outsider and no one trusted you. Ever. Plus I think the priest was having an affair with the parish secretary. That has nothing to do with this entry but I like to share the news.
I had the great fortune of teaching 8th graders. First time crushers, first kisses, first pregnancies…. To hear them talk, they were all the time hooking up with each other. Which was probably why they were at a parochial school. So, one day in spring it decided to storm. As thunder rolled in the distance my class grew more and more restless (as kids and animals are wont to do when the weather changes) so like I always did, instead of fight the good fight and demand their attention and respect, I let them break into groups and “discuss” the story, then I flipped through a magazine. Occassionally I’d stroll around the room acting like I cared, and it was then that I stumbled upon Chachi and Joanie. It went something like this:
Fade in: Interior classroom. Scattered around the room are teenagers in parochial uniforms. Murmurings of “this weekend’s party” and “dude, they totally did it” along with, “My mom is totally talking to the principal about how much Mrs. Bright sucks,” are heard. The camera scans the room until it lands on
Joanie: a pretty girl nearing her 14th summer. She is blonde and slender and her uniform skirt is rolled thickly at her waste in an act of dress code defiance. She is standing staring out the window, lost in her own thoughts, her slender arms wrapped around herself in a hug. Chachi walks up beside her.
Chachi is a young teen. It is easy to see why the girls dig him and the boys want to be him. He stands and looks out onto the darkening horizon for a moment and then turns his head left and speaks to Joanie.
(Quietly) It’s getting dark out there.
(not taking her eyes off the clouds and blowing leaves) Yes.
It’s going to rain.
I know. (she gives him a solemn glance and then returns her somber gaze to the brewing storm)
(In shared solemness) Are you afraid of the rain?
(Broken whisper) A little.
And then his left hand dropped and her right hand dropped and the two of them stood there with their fingers barely touching, their images backlit by some artistic lightning. It felt a bit like a Ingmar Bergman film. It also made quite an impression on me because I can’t help but think of their tragic love (her family transferred to a different city a few weeks later and he was without a girlfriend for days after) every time it rains.
Smooth transition into what this post is actually about: It’s raining here.