Thursday, January 24, 2013

Beef Jerky and Hot Dogs

Anyone who has been teaching for more than five minutes has had a class go off the rails. Stuff happens. An unsilenced phone suddenly blares, “I like big butts and I cannot lie!” Someone breaks up with someone right before class. A mouse sprints across the room. Gastrointestinal issues occur. Several years ago, when the school was under renovation, the pumper truck backed right up to my window to empty the construction port-a-potty.

The good classroom manager rolls with the punches, acknowledges the issue, and redirects students back to the lesson. The dumbass sends the class off the rails herself.

Today, I was the dumbass.

Basketball homecoming is on the horizon, and this year the high school student council decided to make two changes. First, they are replacing the winter formal with a homecoming dance, and second, just for kicks and giggles, they’ve decided to have an all-male homecoming court to balance football homecoming’s all-female court.

Preliminary voting to cull the four most popular boys from each class occurred during English today. Everybody, including seniors, has to take English, so our classes are the school’s polling places. For most of the day, I made quick work of the process. Then we hit 6th hour…

“So,” I explained, “this year there will be a homecoming dance after the game, and the homecoming court is going to be flipped. It will be an all-guy court instead of an all-girl court.”

My class comedian piped up. “Oh man! It’s gonna be beef jerky and hot dogs!”

Laughter ensued.

Chalk it up to a long day, one too many interruptions, or the need for a Snickers bar, but I snapped.

“I don’t know what that’s a euphemism for, but it’s disgusting! Have some class!”

The laughter died to a few twitters, and the comedian wore a look of utter confusion.


The kid sitting directly behind him caught on first and lost it.

“Beef jerky and hot dogs!” he howled.

“Yeah,” the original kid said, still confused. “That’s what we’ll end up eating at the dance if a bunch of guys are in charge.”

“Oh. Nevermind.”

And then the class went off the rails. Even the painfully shy girl who never speaks had her hand over her mouth to hide her laughter.

I apologized to the kid and collected the ballots, red-faced, laughing, and feeling like the dumbass I was. Roll with the punches. Acknowledge the issue.

I redirected them back to the lesson, but today, even Scout, Jem, and Boo Radley couldn’t hold a candle to beef jerky and hot dogs.


  1. My favorite book and a sex joke?--damn I miss the Ninth Grade School! I mean, seriously, there is absolutely no double entendre to be found in Jan Brett's The Mitten what-so-ever! LOL, thanks for the giggle.

  2. Yep...if the kids aren't laughing, you're not doing it right. LOL