As part of my job working in the registrar’s office of a small university, I spend three months of the year travelling to high schools mostly in Ontario, but also across Canada, speaking to students about the university. Remember those presentations you signed up for just to get out of class and then spent that time picking food out of your braces, marking up the viewbook with obscene drawings, or making out with your BF or GF while the poor presenter went on about scholarships and admission averages? Yeah, that’s me. Bet you wish you had some respect now eh, punk?
Since I’m currently in the first week of my fourth travel season, I can’t help but be blissfully reminded of some gems that have happened to me at a high school near you. While it’s usually refreshing to visit high schools as an adult (or a grown-ass woman, if you will) and internally scoff at how clueless teenagers actually are, I can’t help but be transported back to a time when (if you’ve read “The Grass is Slippery” and Pachelbel’s Canon, then you’re well-aware) I might have been a wee bit awkward, self-conscious, and unable to stomach alcohol and cheese cappalletti.
Here are three incidents in high schools during travel season that left me with no hope for humanity.
I was presenting for a small group of students in a classroom during the lunch period. These visits are always tricky because the students who aren’t interested in what you’re saying tend to chew, rip, and spit their food with such vigor you wonder if they thought they signed up for the “University of Degenerates” presentation. There were a few interested students, so I worked with what I had.
Halfway through the presentation, I noticed out of the corner of my eye one of the uninterested male students sitting in the back. He began wildly craning his neck back and forth staring up at the ceiling. I’m thinking, Please don’t let this be a seizure. Or worse. Please don’t let him be jerking off. Suddenly, he blasted (poor choice of words) his arm into the air making a fist then put his hand back under the desk. I usually try to ignore blatant distractions, but I had a feeling I knew what had just happened and I needed to address it.
I stopped my presentation, looked directly at him and said, “So…what are you going to do with it now?”
He turned beet red. “Uhhhhh…hold on to it until the end of the presentation, miss?”
“So, I’m right? You just caught a fly in your hand?”
“Yup. I’m sorry.”
“Don’t you dare apologize. I’m impressed. You, sir, are definitely university material. Now, can you please release it in the hallway? Unless you want to tie a string to it and keep it as a friend and be THAT kid.”
I had just finished a presentation that went very well and was pumped to be finished for the day. I thanked the guidance counsellor for arranging the visit and went on my merry way. Maybe I was even whistling a tune, clicking my heels in the air and saying, “How do you do?” to the birds as I emerged from the front door of the school. But my Mary Poppins moment abruptly came to a screeching halt. From the steps, I could see a gang of ominous looking characters circling my car in the parking lot. One of the hooligans was leaning against the trunk, arms folded, and, as I vividly recall, chewing a toothpick with a pack of ciggies tucked into the sleeve of a tight white t-shirt. I’m also pretty sure this punk’s bicep sported a tattoo that read, “Fuck Authority.” Maybe, also at that moment, dark clouds rolled in and casted a shadow over the altercation to come.
I took a deep breath and confidently strode up to the vehicle. With a brilliant smile, I concentrated on not letting my voice crack as I said, “Excuse me, please. This is my car.”
One vigilante looked me up and down. “WHAT?! YOU THINK YOU SPECIAL CUZ YOU GOT A CAR?!”
The sound of a switch blade. Or maybe it was a pencil falling to the ground. It was all hazy at this point.
They very slowly moved from the car and stood directly behind it as I got in the drivers’ seat. They didn’t move. Through the rearview mirror, I distinctly recall seeing one of them point directly at me, drag their thumb across their throat and throw back a sinister laugh (yeah, it happens to me a lot, ok?!). I put the car in reverse and began to very slowly back up. I let out a sigh of relief as they parted and let me go. I drove away…wondering if I’d have to throw away my underwear.
Ok. By “hooligans” I mean three Catholic school girls. But they wore a lot of eyeliner and were REALLY scary!
After one of my presentations, the guidance counsellor asked me to stay back in the classroom to answer some questions she had. The students left the room to mingle in the hall before the bell rang for their next class. When I finished talking to the guidance counsellor, she left the room as I packed up. Just as I walked out of the classroom, one of the girls who attended my presentation was leaning against the locker next to the door and in the middle of saying to her friend, “No, you didn’t miss anything. It was boring.”
Before I continue, let me set the record straight by saying that she is FULL OF SHIT. My presentations are RIVETING. Students eat up my material. If you think anything I write is remotely entertaining, try seeing me live. I bring down the house. I turn pre-requisite courses and residence deposit deadlines and OSAP into freaking Shakespeare. The bitch wanted a program we don’t offer, so the presentation was irrelevant to her.
Our eyes met. She looked like a deer in headlights. She fumbled for something to say. She chose, “I like your shoes!”
“Thanks! I like your baby!”
Oh, yeah. I forgot to mention. She was taking that course that requires you to take care of a fake baby. When it started to cry in the middle of my presentation, I stopped, walked over to it silently, gave it a pen and said, “Maybe this will settle her down” (comedic gold, right?!). The bitch got TWO free pens out of the deal and still called me boring.
What ever happened to this version of high school?: