Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Downton Potter

I don't know anything about Harry Potter, but this still cracks me up for some reason.

Well, I guess I know SOMETHING about Harry Potter:
I was just telling Buster, my stuffed lamb, how much I'd rather have a squirrel play speed-bag with my nuts than hafta read a Harry Potter novel when I was reminded of a time I almost did.  Ten years ago I was teaching 6th grade in the projects down in Far Rockaway, a real crack-den dropoff for kids. Concurrently, I was having my heart ripped out on a daily basis by a girl I was madly in love with; I could not go to bed until I had completely humiliated myself in some sort of screaming through her window in the rain/Cusack with a boom box way. It was, unfortunately, the only time I've ever showed any persistence at all; for once in my life my policy of instantly giving up would've really come in handy, as opposed to this new "Live to be completely humiliated another day!" one.

So one day I'm in class at was even more bent out of shape/lovestruck/depressed than normal. Hell, I'm surprised I even showed up, but I guess that just shows my dedication to the kids (DON'T start that "Xmastime, you're a hero!" shit - that's for history to decide, not me.) I decide to take it easy on myself I'll just read them the fucking Harry Potter book. So I start and by the end of the first page I'm even more depressed - oh good, the parents are dead, nobody likes the kid, I guess he's an asshole, and the walls I'm in are painted gray and I'm hungover and why doesn't she love me wahhhh waaaah  wwaaaaaaaaaah. So finally I say fuck it just read it quietly to yourselves, and I'm helpless to not lower my face into my hands for a few seconds, in absolute surrender to grief (grief such that it seems at the time but is of course laughable now.) Finally I slowly raise my head again, and realize most of the class has crowded around my desk.

"Mr. Wilson, are you okay?"

I was both ashamed at my open display of sadness and touched by their (rare, such that it was) concern, and was about to speak but was cut off before I could start.

"Yeah, Mr. Wilson, are you - ohmygosh Mr. Wilson, you gotta clean your fingernails!! Daaaaaaaaaaaamn!"


And later, I took them to see the movie, where they surprised me again:

3. Harry Potter is introduced in 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone' (2001)
When this movie came out I was teaching a class in some Bed-Stuy projects, real crack-babies cum crazed, uncontrollable delinquents, and I don't mean "stealing candy from the counter." I had a class of 6th graders and I spent most of my time yelling and screaming "shut up!!!  shut up!  sit down and shut up!!!" (some of you sexier readers might recognize that as my "go to" move when I'm in "the home stretch", heh heh heh.) So one day the principal tells me we're taking the kids to see the Harry Potter movie. Since, you know, if the NYC public education system cant help a kid from the projects learn to read or write or add 2+2, maybe a mystical story of a wispy little faggy white kid from England with magical powers wearing a robe can do the truck, right? So we get to the theater, and I'm thinking there's no WAY these kids are gonna sit down and be quiet for one second - they don't do it in the classroom, and now they're gonna be quiet when the light go out? I'm expecting a massive orgy of pre-teen sex and drugs to break out before the goddam previews start. We all sit down and as the movie starts I'm on the  edge of my seat, crouched and ready to spring up and start shouting at the kids to sit down and shut the hell up. All of a sudden, after a few minutes, I realize you can hear a pin drop. I look around - every single kid is sitting in their seat, not moving a muscle, staring at the screen hanging on every word from these fucking wizard kids. I slowly slide back into my seat thinking "...what the fuck..." Finally after a few minutes I relaxed and figured shit, they're behaving. So then I start watching the movie, and I realize I had missed the first coupla minutes and had no idea who was who or what the hell was going on. So I started trying to ask the kids around me, who recoiled in horror that their attention was being taken away from the screen, and with every question I asked I got buried more and more underneath a flurry of "SSSSHHHH!!!  Mr. Wilson!! Be quiet! SHHHHHHHHH!" I was stunned, and sat there in silence, happy as a clam for the next hour and half. Until, of course, the lights came back up and all hell broke loose and I got shivved. Looking back now, maybe we shoulda just had all the lights turned off in the classrooms? Maybe these kids' batshit buttons were controlled by light?

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