SHOW YOU WHAT ALL THE HOWLIN'S FOR
In third grade, I brought my report card home. I was proud—good grades all around. There was, however, one very carefully and deliberately drawn check mark—traced over multiple times with a black pen so that it stood out against the rest of the information like a black dot on a ladybug—next to the phrase “Talks Excessively to Others.”
My teacher never addressed it directly. He wasn’t much for talking, that guy. He’d do this thing where he’d be reading out to the class from some textbook—his back to the chalkboard, him sitting in his teacher chair, the rest of us sitting cross-legged on the floor facing him, some of us sitting in a line so we could braid each others’ hair—and if someone talked, he’d pull his chalk out of his front pocket (the stick of chalk was held in a silver shaft, with a click-button on the side so he could push the tip out), stand up, walk over to the end of the chalkboard, and under a pre-written heading that said, “ASC,” he’d write the offending talker’s name and a slash mark after it. “ASC” meant After School Club. One slash mark equaled five minutes. The takeaway lesson here, to my eight-year old mind, was: Learn how to communicate without getting caught. This is why I learned how to sign the alphabet.
Anyway, I proudly displayed my report card to my Mom. (For the record, I kicked math’s ass, and math has never let me forget it since; Language Arts: pie; Social Studies: rock; Gym: Oh, yeah. In third grade, I was a true Renaissance woman.) I had never had my name put under the horrifying “ASC” column on the chalkboard; I had never had to stay after school for five, ten, or fifteen minutes, which was good, because all those trees out in the woods weren’t gonna climb themselves and I didn’t have time to waste. In all, I figured I was pretty much stylin’, as much as a scrawny eight-year old with a blatant disregard for hygiene can be.
Unfortunately, that’s not the way Mr. Third Grade Teacher saw it. Apparently, “Talks Excessively to Others,” is a negative. I mean, you could’ve fooled me. Everyone I talked to talked back to me, so what was the problem? Well, there’s a thing called “disruption” and evidently, you don’t want to be on the giving or receiving end of “disruption.” My mom chose to handle this by suggesting ways to channel what was obviously a great strength of mine. Instead of talking out your ideas, or signing them, during class, why not write them down? I thought that was a brilliant idea.
My teacher made me promise to get my report card signed, which I did, but only after a lengthy tirade wherein I decried the hypocrisy of the patriarchal establishment while my Mom listened, patiently, pen poised in mid-air, until I ran out of breath and when I did, she said, “Honey, you should write that down.”
Now I’m a writer. And not only do I get to write stories, I get to tell them. And when I tell them, there are no report cards, no check marks, no mandatory signature-gettings. Instead, there is wine and music and a live mic. And for the most part, I am not considered a disruption. Suck it, third grade.
Here’s where and when I’m telling stories this month. I am extremely lucky and humbled.
Literally Sexy 2
April 3, April 10
Tix and info (use the code "FRESH" for $5 off!)
2nd Story 2009 Festival
April 19, April 25, May 1
Tix and info
Theater 7’s Diversey Harbor, curtain teaser (we tell a story first, then the play goes on, FUN!!!)
April 16, April 30
Tix and info