So my husband the teacher comes home yesterday at odds with himself because he inadvertently created ‘an incident’ at school.
He’s caught my attention, because in his almost twenty years of teaching, there have been no more than three, perhaps four, ‘incidents.’
“The kids came back from the assembly with only about 20 minutes left in class. About to start a new unit, I offered them a ‘teaching’ video to fill the time. They opted for one about the brain’s ability to recognize different faces. The box was marked “Preview – some sensitive material.” But it was also labeled for grades one to three. With time running out, I figured, how bad could it be? These students are all over 14 years old. So I threw the tape in.
“In this class there is one student – he’s autistic – who often opts to hide in the back room where he can watch the class in solitude through a large glass window. He doesn’t enjoy the television, so off he went. Normally, I can see him back there and all is good. But with the lights out, I have to check on him from time to time.
“A few minutes into what I realize is a dreadfully dry and boring video, I went back to make sure he’s ok.
“I wasn’t back there 10, maybe 15 seconds, when I heard the class erupt into screams of, ‘Oh, my God! Sir! What kind of freaky movie is this?! What’s all that red stuff?! OMG, that’s disgusting!!’
“I ran for the door and to my horror, what I see on the screen, in full living colour, thirty feet away from me, on the other side of 25 students, desks, backpacks, and other miscellaneous obstacles, is a woman, completely naked, in the full – and explicit – throes of loudly giving birth.”
He went on to describe how he about killed himself and more than one teenager trying to get to the front of the classroom – of course where the remote control was located, right next to the tv – only to find that it wouldn’t work. And then the frantic pushing of buttons – in the dark – trying to stop the tape only led to his being able to pause the play at a still picture that was probably the most traumatic he could have chosen, finally opting to desperately yank the plug from the wall to make it all stop.
He turned on the lights to see two dozen ashen faces looking at him, clearly expecting some kind of explanation.
“Pregnancy is completely preventable,” he started, “whether by abstinence or contraception. Remember that!”
And with perfect timing, the bell rang and he left the room.
I now sit in my office with him glaring at me as I try my best to stop the peals of laughter that have racked my sore ribs, already ravaged by the worst week-long cough I’ve ever had. The laughter turns to a coughing fit that has me doubled over in my chair, the trash can between my feet in case my stomach decides to end the cough.
Finally finished, I look at my poor, dejected man, the proud teacher, the epitomy of integrity, and understand that he feels terribly responsible for having scarred his delicate, impressionable students in some permanent fashion.
“Relax,” I said. “It was an accident. At least you didn’t show it to a grade 2 class!”
He would not be molified.
“Remember when I did that to our kids?”
His brow creased – somehow expressing his confusion at not remembering, as well as his sudden annoyance at such a thing happening to his own children.
“At the cottage?” Increased furrowing of the brow.
“Oh that’s right. You were at school that year. My mom was there.”
“Do tell,” he suggested.
I started my tale:
Mom and me and the boys were watching tv up there. The girls were in bed already. I turned on an episode of ‘Men in Trees,’ that romantic comedy show I like that we don’t get at home anymore.
Five minutes in, Nana thought is was not appropriate for the boys. They were – what? – 13 and 14? There was nothing there I thought they’d never seen before, and I felt fine watching it with them. But Nana felt is was too suggestive for the boys. Annoyed, I started flipping through the channels looking for something we could all watch.
When I found a show with a couple magicians on it, Nana piped up. “Ooh! Leave that on!” I remembered her and my dad enjoying these guys when I was a kid; Dad was a big fan. I’d seen them often. The one guy is a big burly guy, does all the talking. The little guy looks like Harpo Marx, never talks, and plays sidekick in the act. From my memory of their magic, I agreed, thinking the boys would enjoy it.
Little did I know, Penn and Teller had revised their act considerably since the last time I’d seen them. But, as much as I was surprised, my mother was horrified.
The second ‘act’ of the show opened with the two entertainers lounging on deck chairs, drinks in hand, with four topless ‘waitresses’ hovering about them, large, prominent, naked breasts bouncing about everywhere you looked! Being somewhat unfamiliar with the cottage’s remote control, the way it worked with the television/satellite dish/sound system, I could not find even the power button fast enough. Add to that my mother screaming at me to turn it off, both boys laughing hysterically at Nana, with eyes glued to the screen, and even the dog jumping around in the ruckus and I was out of my wits! It never occurred to Nana to order the boys out. I didn’t once think to get up and stand between them and the tv. I just kept on panicking. I could think clearly enough to know that I had to fix this. But I couldn’t wrap my head around what to do to make it stop. Finally, after what seemed like many minutes – though it was in fact probably no more that thirty seconds – I changed the channel.
I put ‘Men in Trees’ back on, turned to my mom with a menacing glare that shouted with the utmost clarity that she had better NOT have any objections, and we all settled in for the next forty-five minutes as Patrick and Annie tried to work out their relationship.
No one ever mentioned the incident again.
When the husband finally stopped laughing, he sighed with an ounce of relief.
“Thanks for that,” he admitted.
“I’ll need to blog about this you know,” I warned him.
“I don’t want to know about it,” he quipped, kissed me, and left the room.
I always tell the family when I’m writing about them. They still never read any of it.
After all this time, let’s hope it stays that way.