Tuesday, March 23, 2010

My Perspective On Irony, Or How I Choose My Victims Carefully And Toy With Them First, But Oh So Very Gently...

Perspective is something I struggle with, and perhaps it's because I seem to see the Irony--the Ridiculous Irony--in so many things.

Consider these scenes.
Scene I.

High school classroom. Students are in their seats. Teacher at front of room behind lectern. Finishing up instruction. Checks clock, sees that there are four minutes left.

Mrs. D.: Okay, everyone. Take the last four minutes to double-check that you have the assignment written down correctly. Are there any questions? (surveys room. sees no hands raised) Great. You've got the last few minutes to yourselves. Wow. Are you lucky, or what? Have a great day, and that's an order.

(as if by unseen decree, half the class rises and begins to shoulder huge bookbags; they wander towards door. teacher, shocked, halts them)

Mrs. D.: Um...where on Earth do you think all of you are going? I do believe that this is still room 245 and that all standard rules and regulations still apply. Stay in your seats until the bell rings.

(general moaning, bitching, crabbing ensues as wanderers roam back to seats)

Mrs. D.: Holy crap. How ridiculous. Can you just imagine the phone calls I would get from Mumsy and Popsy if my rule said "All students will shoulder their fifty pound book bags four minutes before the bell and stand in a huge herd like bison in front of the door. They are absolutely forbidden to sit in their seats to wait for the bell but instead must press their bodies against one another and jockey for position like marathon runners at the gate." ? You are, all of you, insane right now. Here I am, giving you four minutes of respite from those gargantuan bookbags and the terror of the hallways, and this is the thanks I get? Never again!

(Students roll eyes, sigh, a few smile. Bell rings for dismissal. On their way out, several are heard to say, "She's right, though." One actually whispers to teacher, "Sorry!")

Scene II.

(Living room. Mother and "adult" son are sitting on couch. Completely annoying commercial for Ford Edge comes on television in which girl in nasally voice extols virtue of "texting hands free while driving" because she is "constantly on her cellphone texting and talking anyway.")

Nance: Jared. I want you to listen to me right now and with a completely open mind. Can you do that?

Jared: Oh god. I don't know. Yes. What now? Oh no.

Nance: Seriously. Pretend that it's about ten years ago. And I'm telling you that you have to type email messages on a very small keyboard that is approximately one-twelfth the size of your laptop.

Jared: Okay...

Nance: And that you have to do it very fast. And that you have to pay for the privilege to do it. And that most of the time where you want to do it, it will be illegal.

Jared: I get it.

Nance: Do you hear how incredibly ridiculous that all sounds?

Jared: I know, right?

(Nance smiles triumphantly and victoriously, almost as if she has discovered the cure for AIDS and Rush Limbaugh all at once. Sadly, it is all meaningless because not only are AIDS and Rush Limbaugh still very much with us, so is rampant and inane text-messaging. Sigh.)

Scene III.

(Classroom. Students are chatting; some are finishing up work, others already done are socializing. Teacher is circulating.)

Liz: My brother lost the cordless phone again. It's ridiculous. He's such an idiot.

Jessica: Doesn't your phone have a pager thingy? Ours did. We just all have a cell now, so we cut off our house phone.

Liz: I don't think ours does. Anyway, the battery is dead. He's in so much trouble.

Mrs. D.: You know what would be great? If the phone had something like a cord attached to it so that it didn't get disconnected from the base. That way, it wouldn't ever get lost. It couldn't!

Liz: Yeah! That'd be awesome! You should invent that, Mrs. D. That's genius.

Jessica: (rolls eyes) Are you serious? Liz. She's screwing with you. All phones used to be like that back in the day. That's why your phone is called a cordless phone. Hello? BECAUSE IT HAS NO CORD. ANYMORE. DUH.

Mrs. D.: (winks)

Liz: Oh. I get it. Good one, Mrs. D.

(Teacher pats her head, grins, and moves on. She has more minds to...illuminate.)


  1. I love Southern California. It's illegal to use a cell phone while driving here. I've seen a bunch of infractions, but my favorite was when I saw a cop car and a sedan side-by-side in adjoining lanes; while the passenger and the cop chewed the fat out the windows between cars, the sedan's driver talked on her cell phone. In front of police headquarters. In rush hour. What's a gal got to do to get arrested in this town? Now they just need a mascara application law.

  2. You're the kind of teacher I always liked to have - one with a sense of humor! I had to share this with my husband, who is a University professor. Which these days is a lot like what you do every day.

  3. KIDS! They have no idea.. Imagine a telephone that can't get lost. One that's plugged right into the wall. That would be something,
    wouldn't it?

    A few years ago my Grandson was doing his homework on his computer and the printer refused to work. He called his Mom and she came to the rescue by getting her old IBM Selectric typewriter out of the closet and showing him how it worked.

    He was dumbfounded. He could not get over this wonderful invention.
    "Look,Mom, it prints right on the paper. You don't even need a printer. You just hit the key and the letters come right up. Where did you GET this? I want to get one just like it."

    Hmmmm..I wonder if he'd like my old Victrola.

  4. LOL!!! Who knew??? Next they'll be extolling the virtues of 8-tracks. OK, maybe not.

  5. Coincidentally, I just had this same text-messaging argument with my tyke yesterday. I had been notified that the boys had gone WAY over their message-package limit, so I had to regale them. And the only argument on their side was, "Then upgrade the package and pay more!" And my argument was, "No, we're about to change the service, economize, and downgrade the package so YOU CAN'T TEXT at all anymore!" Much wailing all around. DH and I refuse to text on principle. It's a PHONE! Call your friends and speak to them on the PHONE!

  6. We still have not one, but TWO phones that connect to the wall. Call me a dinosaur. We do have one cordless phone, though, which is my favorite, since I don't get stuck to one place with it. But I like that the cordless ones still work in a power out. Having lived through a fairly large earthquake, where the power was out for a few days (hard to recharge that cell phone), a phone that works without electricity is important to me.

    Nice that your students listened to you. A 'sorry' even. Awesome.

  7. J.@jj--I have a wall phone, but only for decor purposes. It just matches my kitchen so well. We have no more landline; it was an unnecessary expense. I have lots of decent kids. It's just hard to see past the creeps some days....

    Dana--Hi, and welcome to the Dept. Thanks for commenting here. I've written here before ad nauseum about how cell phones have gotten "away from their mission", which I presumed to be "BE A PHONE!" Pretty soon, cell phones providers will charge extra for a "voice package" so that you can make and receive calls. That will be the Final Irony, right? And way to hang tough with those kids!

    dbso--hey, don't be so quick to dismiss 8-tracks. there are Vinyl Enthusiasts who really dig the sound of old-fashioned "records" and collect ALBUMS on 33 1/3 rmps. My husband still has lots of his 8-tracks and his Dynamite-8 portable player. Remember those???

    Nancy--We had the same typewriter experience here, no kidding. The kids were completely fascinated by it AND correctype strips. I almost extolled the virtues of CARBON PAPER, but decided against it. LOL.

    The Bug--Thank you. You know what they say, "Laugh and the world laughs with you; cry and you cry all alone." Or, just as good, "Laughter is the best medicine." (At least it's way cheaper than most street drugs...!)

    The Other Nance--Oh, the cell phone law is illegal in many municipalities here in NEO, too, but it's so impossible to enforce, really. I can always tell that an erratic driver is talking or sending text messages. It's uncanny. I detest the phone, period. It's my nightmare. But so many people make a CAREER out of it. I see it as a leash: you're trapped when it rings; someone has control of you for who-knows-how-long. Urgh.

  8. Hard to stop laughing long enough to type. I needed that!
    I want you with me the next time my airplane pulls up to the terminal and every dumb soul on it leaps up and stands in the aisle. With both backpacks and suitcases.
    I don't think it will work if I just read your brilliant words to them.


  9. Nance--somehow my name came up in my comment. So I'm outed--I'm just plain sputnik, a.k.a. Dana. Same person, same snarky comments.

  10. sputnik--you know, i wondered when i saw you refer to "tyke." it's okay. and thanks for hitting up comments, seriously.

    Mary G.--Glad to make you chuckle. The airplane thing is a phenomenon, I know, but I admit that I've been a stander at my seat a few times. I am just so damn anxious to finally get out of that seat and sometimes, I feel like if I LOOK like I am ready to go, it will get others motivated to hurry and let me through faster. Isn't it horrid? I detest flying anymore. It makes me feel criminal. Shoes off, stand in the shuffly line like a prisoner at mealtime--it's all dehumanizing.Forget it. I'll wait and just go places I can get to by car.

  11. *Note*--I've recently deleted comments from someone who wanted to play a guessing game regarding the identity of students in my posts. This treads dangerously upon Privacy Issues. I'd contact this Commenter directly, but he/she has a private Blogger Account, so I'm having to do it here. Please respect the Privacy I've established here. Thanks.

  12. I can't decide if young people are all insane or if I'm so over the hill that I just don't "get it." Maybe a little of both.

    In the late 60's, I served in the Peace Corps in a Brazilian town with no electricity, running water, nor phone service. About 8 years ago I found a website about the town and the first virtual postcard that came up was a photo of the town's cell tower. I'm not sure if that is progress or not. In August I am going back to Brazil for the first time in 41 years, so I will see. (I'm guessing it was more cost effective to build cell towers than to string phone lines through hundreds of miles of countryside.)

    I admit, despite the lack of modern conveniences, there are times I long for the simple life I lived there.

  13. Where did my comment go?!?! I left one, last week! I hate it when that happens...

  14. Nina--I get comments via email also, and it never showed up there, either. You must not have correctly entered the little word verification. Remember to wait for the yellow box that tells you your comment was verified!

    CJ--How odd that they'd be so proud of that tower. I see most of those things as such an eyesore. Sigh.


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