Guest Writer: Guam tells "Dangerous Minds - No, Really, They're Fucking Dangerous"

Monday, July 04, 2005

The Moose is on vacation and his friends are helping out for the next two weeks. This week’s story comes from my boy Guam. I met Guam junior year in college, we were RAs together at BU and he got me into improv. We’ve acted together, wrote together, created together but most of all – we just wasted a shit-load of time together.

Guam is now going to law school, which is why I’m not allowed to use his real name. He does improv in Boston, has written a few plays provided someone kicks him in the ass and wrote, acted, codirected and coproduced one of the best one-man plays I’ve ever seen, Tales of a Broken Heart: Not a Love-Story. It’s the true story about his heart failing and how he got himself through it. He’s performed it several times and the audience laughs, cries and tends to walk away feeling good to be alive. Except me. I punch him in the pacemaker.

His story is a great way to start off. It’s hysterical, touching and definitive Guam (the guy, not the island, never been to the island). Please enjoy.


Dear Jason Rodriguez Admirers

Jason is on vacation on the West Coast and he asked some of his friends to sub for him during his trip. Jason set down a few guidelines, no stories about him (he already used my favorite one, Beach House) and all must take place by the summer of 2000.

Since I do what I goddamn want, this story takes place in September of 2000. Let me back up. In order to attend BU with Jason I won a scholarship from the Government of Guam for being the valedictorian of my high school. I received $15,000 a year from the government and used it to attend BU, but the caveat was that I had to return home and work for a year. It sounded like a good deal at the time, and I guess it still is a good deal, but my return led to the most depressing period of my life from which there are few entertaining stories. This here is one.

I had to return home and work for a year. I could have flipped burgers or climbed coconut trees; it didn’t matter so long as I worked for an entire year. My Dad decided that I should be a teacher. It has only been recently in my life that I decided to make decisions for myself. I still don’t like to do it. My dad’s reasoning was that (1) both he and his mother are excellent teachers, and (2) I am smart. From that my dad decided that I could be a teacher and arranged a job interview. One of my fatal flaws is that I believe my own and others BS when it is about me. One pep talk and I cruised through an interview and got a job as a remedial science teacher for 9th graders in one of the toughest high schools on Guam.

Oh, by the way, what did I get my undergraduate degree in? Religious Studies.

I was doomed from the beginning.

Besides the week I spent in the hospital after being diagnosed with congestive heart failure, teaching was the worst week of my life. I should have taken a hint when there was a vacancy in the middle of September. These kids already ran one teacher out of the school.

It was hard getting their respect since I am about 5’ 5” and weighed 145 lbs at the time. I am quite the baby face. It took me a while the first day to convince people that I was the teacher of the class. And this was my first experience with public school. I didn’t realize that it was populated by barbarians. I stayed up late every night, preparing a lesson plan about the ecosystem, something I think I had heard of once. I distinctly remembering being so stressed out one night that I was crying.

One day I thought I was making progress with the kids when this soon to be drop out actually raised his hand in class
“Sir, are you a stoner, sir?”

I was immediately taken aback. My mind started racing. What the fuck did I do last night? No. No, I’m cool. I stayed at home and played video games. Phew. Oh shit! What is this kid’s last name? No I am not down with any Castros from Yigo. Hah. You don’t know me kids. Fuck you. I’m all good. Oh fuck! I have been quiet for like 10-12 seconds. Quick, say something. SAY SOMETHING NOW, BITCH!

“That . . . uh, is an inappropriate question . . . Why do you ask?

“Because you look like one, sir.”

I quickly turned the class’s attention to the definition of a habitat. I am a fucking Smooth Cat.

By Friday I had reached my limit of babysitting future drop outs, being ignored, and having my personal life probed by little barbarians. Today I was going to hand out a quiz on the material so far; I would grade it and then I would never see these fucking kids again unless I bumped into them at the arcade. I walked into the vice-principal’s office and said fuck it I can’t do this shit anymore. I’m giving them a quiz and then going home to never set foot in this school as long as I live.

It was easier than I thought. I walked to my box in the faculty room for the last time and checked it. There was one memo and it read, “Due to the threats of gang violence, please do not let your students out into the hall unsupervised.” Well, at least my last day was going to be interesting. There would either be a fight or an in-class soiling.

I went to my classroom. Very early on in my first period, a Teacher’s Aide came in. They call them Teacher’s Aides but I have never seen one in a classroom before. They are more like glorified roadies. The Aid came in and shoved an index card in my face. Apparently this bulletin from the office was so sensitive that it could only be read briefly off an index card carried around by a burly woman. The index card said:

“Due to the rumors of gang violence, all teachers and aides should maintain a presence in the halls and the open areas during morning break and lunch.”

This struck me as the stupidest thing I had ever heard. I could just picture it in my head.

[ Four Young Hoods gather around in a deserted hallway of Simon Sanchez High School. They have various weapons assembled and are steeling themselves for a bloody confrontation.]

Leader: Alright, those Yigo boys are going down today.

Hoods: Yeah!

Leader: Nobody messes with the Keiser Boys!

Hoods: Yeah!

Leader: We are going to jump those guys and fuck them up! [Silence.] Guys?

Hood #3:It’s … It’s

Hood #2: The Remedial Science Teacher!
[poof of smoke]
RST: Hello, children. Let me tell you about our friend the ecosystem.

Leader: Let’s get the fuck out of here! Run, guys! RUN

Yeah, that probably wasn’t going to happen. I was gonna spend break in my classroom. Thanks, but no thanks.

The notes did not end. Yet another burly female messenger arrived in my third period. This super secret note told me to hold my third period and not release them for break because the school was conducting a room to room weapon search. All I had prepared was a quiz, so the class eventually devolved into chaos which was fine because I was clock watching. I was gonna be out of there at 3:30. What did I care?

After 40 minutes they finally made it to my room. They had all kids form a line on the side of the room while the searched every single bookbag for weapons. They did not find any weapons but one kid had one of these travel nail care kits. A little black travel cozy with a nail file, nail clippers, and the other instruments of which I am completely befuddled. I guess it is a perfectly fine thing for a person to own, but probably not a wise thing for a 14 year old boy to make a fuss over when it gets confiscated.

The Aides took it away and he just started pleading. “No, that’s my manicure kit.” “Hey, my mom gave me that.” “Don’t take my manicure kit.” It was horrible. I was watching a high school 3 car pile up. Each time this guy said the word “manicure kit” he was committing social suicides.

“Hey, that’s my manicure kit.” No girlfriend freshman year.

“Sir, they are taking my manicure kit.” Now he will be called a manicure related nickname. Add one year to the length of his virginity.

Manicure Kit. Manicure Kit. MANICURE KIT. I couldn’t take it anymore. I tried to say something helpful to stop the bleeding, but instead I said, quite loudly, “Hey Rico, maybe you should play down the whole manicure kit.” And then I cut loose 3 manicure related insults which ensured that he would not get laid until at least college.

Last period I was all set to flee. Last period was the worst class of them all. It was full of gang bangers and other kids who would later encounter the penal system. There was one kid, Jose. I handed him the quiz and he smiled really big. His test taking style was a little unique.
(1) Jose read the question
(2) Jose stared off to ponder the answer.
(3) Jose’s focus wandered.
(4) Jose remembered a song he liked.
(5) Jose bobbed his head to the music in his head.
(6) I reminded Jose of the time remaining for the quiz.
(7) Repeat Step 1.
Such a nice kid, but not too bright. Just as I was feeling great about leaving the school, Jose turned in his quiz and said, “Sir, I know I didn’t do very good on this quiz. But I’m gonna do good on the next one.” I had reached a student. I somehow inspired him to work hard to excel despite his natural head bobbing tendencies. And I was abandoning that kid. I felt like a Piece of Shit. One of the worst feelings in my life. I hope Jose turned out okay. I’d feel guilty if he was in jail or a drug addict right now.

I thought about all the teachers I gave a hard time, who I tried to prove were stupid, whose lives I made worse, and I thought about how hard this week was, and I felt like I was going to cry. To any teacher at St. John’s Episcopal School or Father Duenas Memorial School who were unfortunate enough to draw my petty, petty ire, I apologize from the bottom of my heart. Next to mothers, Teachers have the hardest job in the world. I am truly sorry.


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