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Random Riddles

written Thursday, 3/22/2007

3/5/2007 *

You know it’s hard out here for a mathematics baller
I hustle through each day and then I loosen up my collar
I’m strugglin’ to survive amongst the academic squalor
Endure another week just to earn another dollar
The workload’s gettin’ bigger while my paycheck’s gettin’ smaller
My steps are gettin’ shorter while the mountain’s gettin’ taller
The struggles of a teacher sometimes make me wanna holler
(But) it’s worth my time and sweat if I can build a better scholar

* After watching the movie “Hustle & Flow,” I was inspired by the song “It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp.”

Riddle #1

Question: What do 10 pounds of beads, 4 heads of cabbage, and 2 pairs of green lace panties have in common?

Answer: These are all items I picked up at the 60th annual Irish Channel St. Patrick's Day parade.

Costumed marchers in green plaid kilts and Mardi Gras-style floats paraded down Uptown’s Irish Channel for several hours on Saturday, dispensing bizarrely-random throws to the crowd. Heads of cabbage are always some of the most plentiful and lethal projectiles tossed from the floats, but one must also take care not to be pelted by ballistic potatoes and carrots. In addition to fresh produce, I collected a rubber alligator, playing cards, a bag of salted peanuts, bubble gum, rubber bouncing balls, tennis balls, moon pies, and a used deck of playing cards. Through this cultural experience, I became questionably richer in my awareness of Irish contributions to American life.

Pathetically, the frilly female undergarments were my most treasured prizes in the day’s loot. There was a minimal sense of achievement in obtaining the first pair. A male float rider threw them to Becky, an attractive young Lusher middle school English teacher who I encountered with her family along the route. A few minutes later Becky dropped the undies while chasing a float, pleading with a rider to give her a toy for her 2-year-old daughter Emma. The mental image of a dashing gentleman retrieving a fair maiden’s dropped handkerchief came to mind. Except in this case, I was self-consciously scooping skimpy panties up from a littered street for a young mother while the father of her child looked on. I awkwardly held out the skivvies for Becky. “Ummm, you dropped these.”

“Oh, that’s okay, you can have ‘em.”

Unsure of how to react to the implication that I could possibly have some use for lacy panties, I simply ended the incident as quickly as possible by stuffing them into my pocket.

About an hour later, the parade marchers were becoming progressively drunker. Becky and family packed up and said goodbye. I decided to stick around.

No longer standing in the vicinity of a young woman, I propped myself up against a tree. The male float riders would have no reason to throw to me, and most of the female riders looked young enough to be students of mine. Yech. I’d feel lecherous even smiling at them.

I had just started contemplating bagging up my goods and biking home, when a woman called to me from the lower deck of a passing float. “Hey, c’mere.”

She was beyond jailbait age, although still young and attractive.

Like an obedient lap dog, I ran up alongside the moving structure. She held out another scant pair of green lingerie bottoms for me to grab. “You have beautiful eyes,” she said, and blew me a kiss.

“Th-thank you,” I stammered, trying my best to flash a winning smile.

The float rumbled down Louisiana Street as I stood behind grinning, appreciating a shallow fleeting moment. At a time when my ego is bit fragile, such a simple gesture can work wonders.

Wow, some woman on a St. Patrick’s Day Parade float found me attractive! Ladies, I just wanna be objectified once in a while. Is that too much to ask?

Now two green lace panties decorate the lamppost in my bedroom, as if intended to impress the next bonehead frat boy to wander through my apartment.

Thank you random float lady for making big J-Romeo feel studly.

Loot from the St. Patrick’s Day parade

Louisiana in Words

Last Friday, my good friend Sunday was broadcast on National Public Radio. She had been interviewed a few days earlier as one of the contributing authors for the new book “Louisiana in Words.” In this anthology, the reader is invited to:

Taste, smell, hear, and see Louisiana in this collection of one-minute experiences taking place over a twenty-four-hour period across the Pelican State. One hundred twenty Louisiana-born or current resident contributors of all ages, backgrounds, and perspectives have offered their grateful, graceful, and grave visions of the state, a place as evocative as the essays within this gathering of voices.

Last year, Sunday got several of her middle school students’ “Katrina poems” published in a compilation book. However, this was the first time that she’s gotten one of her own works published, and she was rightfully thrilled.

I attended the release party and book signing this past weekend at Uptown’s Maple Leaf bar. Many of the authors were in attendance to talk to and sign autographs for their supporters and admirers. Since each submission is only a page or two, I enjoyed walking through the crowd and noting the page numbers on each author’s name tag. I’d quickly turn to their stories and let their writing either affirm or refute my first-glance impressions of them. I talked to about a dozen of the writers, appreciating the wide cross section of backgrounds represented in the book. Many, like Sunday, had never been published before.

In the back patio of the bar, authors took turns reading their stories to the crowd in front of a microphone. Sunday displays a charming sense of ease in social situations, but is oddly uncomfortable talking before adult audiences. Some friendly teasing evolved into what I perceived to be a dare, and I walked up to the microphone. I wanted to hear Sunday’s story shared aloud at this event, even if not from her own voice. I recited her piece with my manly baritone, explaining that Sunday was “too chicken to read it herself.”

The short narration, told in the third person, related a moment Sunday spent interviewing inmates at Caddo Correctional Center in Shreveport, LA, during her Katrina evacuation.

If it had been my own writing, perhaps I would have been nervous reading in front of an audience. Reading my friend’s first published work, though, I was too proud of her to be self-conscious myself.

In this NPR interview, Sunday provides some background and reads part of her story. I tape recorded the radio broadcast, and then transferred it onto my computer at school. Providing the audio recording on my web site probably violates the letter of the law, but how much of a badass would I have to be for NPR to send their lawyers after me?

The release party officially ended at 6, but some of us hung around for another hour or two. At some point the editor of the book passed me a bottle of rum. Perhaps the intention was that I would take a swig and pass it around, but I interpreted it as a personal gift and hung onto it for a while.

My memory of the rest of the evening is a bit fuzzy, but I was at least aware that I would be wise to stop drinking and head home. I walked about a mile back towards my apartment, before feeling confident enough to bike the remaining couple miles.

Fun day.

Greener Grass

Bonnie Greco, my TGNO mentor and Lusher’s math department head, has been out of school for a few weeks after undergoing foot surgery. The road to recovering from a bone spur has been rougher than she thought it would be. Personally, I would have just gotten the foot amputated and opted for a pirate’s peg-leg. Accessorized with an eye patch and a hearty “Aaaaargh,” a truly dominating classroom management force could be developed.

In any case, students who typically grumble about how mean Ms. Greco is are now whimpering for her return.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and the classroom is no exception. I think most of my students like and respect me, but I sometimes wish I could take an extended absence just so they could learn to appreciate what they’ve got. Of course, I’d just need to make sure that the sub who gets assigned to my class is a bigger jerk than I am.


Ms. Greco’s been out, and rumors are flyin’
With stories abound, inferrin’, implyin’
Her foot’s in bad shape, there ain’t no denyin’
But rumors aren’t true; She ain’t really dyin’
Tell her students, “Hold on;” They say, “Yeah, we’re tryin’”
Doc tells her, “Stay home,” but she’s still defyin’
Some claim not to miss her; I know that they’re lyin’
I wish she’d return so her kids would stop cryin’


Riddle #2

Question: What’s more boring than being a student who has to take standardized test for several hours, up to five days this week?

Answer: Being a teacher who has to sit and do nothing else but monitor those students taking the tests.

The state of Louisiana’s Standardized Tests were administered this week. An impressive array of acronyms such as GEE, LEAP, and iLEAP all fit into the genius master plan of NCLB (No Child Left Behind). Of course, any student who doesn’t pass all sections of the GEE (Graduate Exit Exam) before the end of their senior year will most certainly be left behind come graduation day.


What looms up ahead? One doesn’t need glasses
The time has arrived, let’s pray for the masses
Kids sit frozen still, petrified in our classes
Magna Carta, quadratics, those dang ideal gases
Some hurry too fast, some creep like molasses
My fingers are crossed, I hope each one passes
Once GEE and iLEAP are done kicking their asses

Riddle #3

Question: Who are two fantastic, furry, friendly, and flabby female felines?

Answer: Kong and Estelle.

I absolutely love my adorable kitties. Having two sweet bundles of fur nuzzling and purring in my face at night is one of the great pleasures in my nightly routine. The vet is somewhat concerned by how fat they are, though. Her reaction surprised me. Kong has been slightly pudgy since before I adopted her, but neither strikes me as unhealthily overweight. While they don’t look particularly wide, the vet pointed out that both have flab hanging down from their bellies when standing, perhaps like cow udders. In fact, she even posed the possibility that Kong might be pregnant.

This is a long shot. The only unneutered male that they’ve been exposed to is their brother, Redfurd (now living with my neighbor Sandi), who has never been seen showing any tendencies towards kitty incest. I return to the vet next week to hopefully confirm that my babies simply need to be put on a diet.

Sleeping, purring, laying on my lap, and tumbling through the apartment one after the other. Kong and Estelle bring me so much joy.