Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Crackhead K.C.

For Sarah, who introduced me to K.C., long before I had the pleasure of ever knowing him . . .

This is not the school where I taught. My school was much older and much more ghetto, and I had bats living in the ceiling directly above my head. Yes, it did smell a lot like guano . . . GO VIKINGS!

Another teaching story to amuse/horrify/depress/uplift you:

As a general rule, when you are teaching high school, it is wise to steer clear of teenage romances. Seriously, unless you love watching soap operas, there's nothing there for you. I remember one Prom that my husband and I chaperoned, and we watched as the Special Ed teacher tried to reconcile a special ed couple about seven times. Seriously, they kept fighting: the girl would cry and storm off, then the boy would get all sullen and camp out at the punch bowl, then the girl would come back and yell, and then the boy would go to a corner and cry, and then the girl would pout until she felt he was sufficiently chastened, and then they would reconcile and dance a dance, and then the boy would inevitably say something that the girl found offensive, and then the whole cycle would start all over again. It's just not a situation that you want to find yourself in the middle of.

You also generally want to steer clear of encouraging crushes and intrigues in your classroom, because honestly, the walls are practically dripping sexual hormones anyway, and the kids really just don't need your help. Mother Nature has taken care of them adequately, thank you very much!

One of my most favorite students of all time was named K.C., but everyone (even the teachers) called him Crackhead K.C. (behind his back, of course, because crack, well, it can make some people violent). Crackhead K.C. really was a crackhead. He used drugs (and sold them) with astonishing regularity, and was probably high as a kite more often than not during class. He lived with his grandma, and before Crackhead K.C. was even in my class, I heard stories of him spending nights in cornfields and waking up and walking to school. Despite his crackhead nature, Crackhead K.C. was really the funniest kid, and amazingly smart (thus why the administration could never catch him dealing), even through the crack haze. He had an adorable crooked smile, although the crack made him completely unambitious. I'm actually not sure why he ever came to school (except of course, to sell his wares), as I recall that he only passed one quarter of the four that we spent together. However, I can guess why he came to my class faithfully, every day. And her name was Lizzy.

Lizzy was everything Crackhead K.C. wasn't. She was a cheerleader, a dancer, beautiful, and not that bright, really. She wasn't dumb, just an airhead. She was friendly, outgoing, and laughed a lot. Crackhead K.C. was totally smitten.

One of the great joys of teaching regular English was having silent reading period--the kids read whatever they wanted and I got to read, too. Crackhead K.C. usually picked a different book every day (until I forced him to commit to the same one, however, I don't believe he ever turned a single page--he just sat there, staring blankly at the page). However, whenever Lizzy was at my classroom bookshelf, Crackhead K.C. would arouse himself from his drug-induced coma, shake off the stupor and shuffle over to stand by her.

They would talk. Lizzy, who would have flirted with a male wasp, couldn't help it. She found Crackhead K.C. amusing. He was madly in love. She didn't feel the same, but she was genuinely a friendly girl (as a sidenote, she could ruin the most perfect seating chart, because she didn't care who she talked to, she just liked to talk). During our unit on The Princess Bride, Crackhead K.C. asked Lizzy to be his partner for the major project. She came to me in a panic, "I don't want to fail because Crackhead K.C. doesn't do his part of the project!" I assured her that I would grade her individually, but not to tell Crackhead K.C. that, as I hoped his passion for Lizzy would transfer into a passion for The Princess Bride.

I have to confess that I turned a blind eye to their tete a tetes by my bookshelf during this time period. I really wanted Crackhead K.C. to pass. There was just something so sad about his crooked little smile and his total disinterest in school or success.

The due date arrived. Lizzy turned in her portion. Crackhead K.C.'s desk was empty. Lizzy and I exchanged knowing glances. Oh, that Crackhead K.C. our looks said He's totally incorrigible. He's probably asleep in some cornfield right now, sleeping off his drug stupor. I shook my head sadly.

Crackhead K.C. burst through the door (wild-eyed, as always). He triumphantly carried his portion of the project. That was the quarter Crackhead K.C. passed my class. See? Teenage love is good for something.


Jen said...

Ah, young love. I remember noticing the sexual hormonality of high schools when I did my student observing early in college. It's as if the girls have bottles of pheromones in their lockers and reapply between every class.

And I think we would be dearest chums if you lived in Hurricane also. The weather's great here. It just barely turned cold last night.

Sarah Anne said...

Huge smile on my face the second I read "Crackhead K.C." I looked him up on google last year and found nothing but court dates. So sad.

"Why should I EVEN TRY Mrs. Rader?"
"Shut up Curtis, nobody likes you. You're so fat!"

(All said while shoving a desk across the room courtesy of K.C.)

Thank you for making my holidays brighter. This was splendid. I feel like we're having after school trash sessions again. word.

Celia and Scott said...

I love your high school stories. I particularly loved this one because when I was in Sophomore Honors, the "Crackhead K.C." of the class went to the teacher and requested me as his partner on a huge project. I wasn't scared that he wouldn't do his part because he was brilliant, I was just scared his idea of after school "study sessions" might not jive with mine.

Dreams of a Country Girl said...

ah, what a pick me up. I understand teenage love...we were youth pastors for over 3 years...oh the DRAMA!!!!

D said...

Ahh.. I remember the smell of guano. I think the Bats lived above your classroom.

I remember in one of your english classes you had to put four boys in the four corners of the room. They were the ones that you didn't want to know what they did over the weekend so that you didn't have to report them and you had to warn them nothing illegal for their projects or writing topics.

Heidi said...

Yes, that's true. They took great pride in being "The Four Corners"--they would even put that title on their projects.

Such choice human beings who will some day rule the world.

I hope I did my part to make them decent.