Today the world lost a comedy icon in the legendary Joan Rivers. She was perhaps the only person I have ever seen in concert who simply made me laugh from start to finish. I laughed so hard I cried. I’m thankful for the happy memories of me, my mom, and my sister-in-law sitting in the front row of a casino theater in Shreveport being truly entertained by this woman who spoke from a mere ten feet away.
Now then… let’s walk through the day, shall we?
This morning I got to work and prepared my classroom for the day. It was the day of the first test for my juniors. They were nervous and I understand that. They’ve taken five quizzes already and the results were less than edifying. Ever the concerned teacher acting in loco parentis I knew that today I would have to allay their fears, set them at ease, make them laugh a little. The test was entirely online so there was the matter of making sure that all of the answer choices were spelled correctly so I didn’t look like the idiot. Then I had to find a clip of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons on YouTube, set the SmartBoard volume a just the right level of “soft”, grab my coffee and a banana, and stand by the door to welcome them with my cheerful smile. Faking all of this at that hour of the morning is a challenge but I pulled it off. Mid-way through the test I saw a hand go up from the middle of the room. The hand was attached to the powerful throwing arm of one of our best football players, a young lad of about 16 who, though by all appearances is quite confident and even more popular, I know is the same teenager we all were at one time — a little ill at ease in his own skin. Look, what boy wants to ask for help ever? More to the point, who wants to ask for help on a theology test of all things? I mean, ever freakin’ answer is supposed to be “Jesus”, right? Wrong. So I gracefully tiptoed past the backpacks and laptop power cords and over to his desk where I knelt down beside him and asked in a gentle tone “What’s up, sir?”
“Um, Mr. H.?” he said pointing to the screen. “What does ‘conceived‘ mean?”
This could have gone so many different ways. Fortunately I was on top of my game. Realizing that the young man sitting next to me probably did not know that his question either revealed a complete lack of basic understanding regarding human reproduction or that he was wording the question incorrectly I thought for a microsecond. If it was the former, he’d never live it down. I mean, he’s on the football team for heaven’s sake. If it was the latter, he might just look dumb and, even though he’d play it off, I could never allow that. He’s actually a bright kid.
“Well,” said I, “you know when babies are born, right?” He nodded his head and gave a puzzled look as if to indicate he knew he’d bitten off more than he had bargained for. At this point every other student in the room was looking up from their laptops. “So think back to what happens about nine months before that…” I looked up in time to see the light bulb flickering above his brow. But I couldn’t let this one go. As I was standing up and preparing to walk away I tossed in “Son, your dad did have that talk with you, right? Because that’s just a bit outside my pay grade.” 25 students (including the newly enlightened cornerback) laughed. A moment later, the punter in front of him added his two cents. “My parents tried to talk to me about that once and I just left the room.” Again, moments like this are not to be wasted. “You know my friend,” I shot back, “Don’t want to shock you here but they’re probably actually speaking from experience.” He buried his head in his hands while covering his ears. “And since I taught your sister a few years ago, I’d say probably on more than one occasion too.” Score one for middle-aged married couples.
How is this getting to bedtime? Stick with me. Or don’t. I don’t care. I’m a stand-up comic. I can get cheap laughs whenever I want. And my audience LOVES me!
Ater work I took son to violin. It’s a weekly struggle. He’s naturally very good but he doesn’t love it. On the ride he even told me “I don’t like violin!” “But violin loves you,” I said from the front seat. “In fact, I overheard it say that it wants you to take it to dinner and then to the movies. Pretty soon you two will be married and have little half-little-boy/half-violin children.” It’s always nice when I can make my boy spit out his drink. Wish it hadn’t been at the back of my head while driving; but…
On our way home from his music lesson my precious precocious wonder-child started mentioning to me all the stores where I can purchase The Lego Movie for him. “But son, we already have it.” “No, Daddy,” he reminded me, “It was on-demand and Mommy said she’s getting rid of cable.” Once again he was right. I’m still not sure why we’re doing this. I understand it will save money and my wife doesn’t care much for TV. Still, it will be strange going back to “broadcast”. Anyway, my young progeny, gears spinning in his mind, then inquired “Daddy, what’s cable anyway?” “Well, little man,” I replied, “You know all those channels we have on the TV? Well, we have to pay for them every month. That’s cable.” Silence followed for a few seconds. In the rear-view I could see his face growing more and more irate. Finally he blurted it out. “Well what good is TV without any channels?!” My sentiments exactly.
And finally, bedtime. Well, that’s the reason I’m writing this. My daughter is a sleep champ. Son? Not so much. As it is currently just after 11PM and he has just gone to sleep you can see how the rest of my evening went. And on that note I will remind you that Joan is still dead (sad), not every teenage boy knows about the facts of life (funny), and TV with no channels is just (dumb).