The Sub Man
By Hamid Taghavi
February 19, 1997
* Also by Hamid Taghavi:
- Ho, ho, ho no more: Kissing Christmas good-bye
Anybody who thinks teachers have an easy job should try it for a few hours and they'll find out they were right.
Recently, my friend Faramarz who teaches in a public high school, asked me to substitute for him in his biology class for an hour. I told him I wasn't very good in biology. He told me not to worry since he didn't think I'd spend much time teaching.
When I first entered the class, I took one look at the students and realized they wouldn't be too demanding. But I wasn't going to waste an hour of my time teaching anything like useless biology stuff. Not that I know that much about anything. But even if I did, why would I teach it to kids who could someday grow up to be my competition in a tight labor market? I just didn't want to be bored for an hour.
The students hardly even noticed my presence. I let out a loud holler to see if it would quiet them down. But that only shut up a couple of puny looking kids who were snoring. I decided to give a lecture much like teachers in Tehran would do on the first day of school to establish their toughness. Most teachers in Tehran would give you some boloney story about how they weren't afraid of anybody, including your senior army relatives. Let's see if that works, I thought. I paced back and forth and shook my head in disapproval.
"Let me tell you. The next hour is going to be pure hell here. I'm not your typical teacher. I'm not afraid of any of you. I'm not afraid of your relatives even if they are army generals."
I carefully weighed the effect of my statement. The students didn't look much impressed. Try again.
"I'm not afraid of your relatives even if they're pimps, drug pushers, murderers, Washington lobbyists, or even car dealers."
They seemed to notice this one a bit more. Try harder yet.
"I'm not afraid of any of your relatives even if they're the head of the Ravioli mob family."
That grabbed their attention. (Good thing they didn't notice what I really meant to say was the Rozioni family.) Then I remembered in Iran tough teachers would make an example out of a couple of the kids the very first day.
"Hey, you in the back! You get your filthy tongue out of the mouth of that innocent young girl who's wearing her bra over a T-shirt which says 'so many men, so little time'."
The kid who was smooching with a girl took his face off her's incredulously and looked at me.
"Is anyone else but you making out here?"
"I wasn't, like, makin' out... I was, like, lickin' her ear."
"Don't you have a mother or a sister?"
"Well, like, yeah. But, like, I can't make out with them. Duh!"
"Don't you 'duh' me, young man. Stand up... Why is your underwear sticking out of your pants?"
"Uh, it's, like, that's how you're supposed to wear them..."
"Really? Do you know the difference between 'under' and 'over'?
"Are you wearing an underwear or an overwear?"
"That's it. You just exceeded the legal limit on the number of 'likes' you can use in a conversation. Report to the principal's office immediately. And for the rest of you, be warned I have a distaste for the word 'like'. You all hear?"
The kids began to tremble. I'd be trembling too if half of my vocabulary was taken away in one swift move.
"You, in the front row, take off those headsets and hand them to me."
"Is there anyone else in the class who's listening to music?"
"Are you talking back to me?"
"What are you listening to?"
"Nothing? That's funny. There's music coming from your headset and yet you can't hear it. Then you must be deaf."
"Aha... I was right. You're deaf after all. Go report to the school nurse immediately and request to be put on the hearing aid waiting list."
Then I noticed another kid with something sticking out inside his baggy pants.
"Son, is that your family pants?"
"What do you mean?"
"Those pants look large enough to house your entire family. Is that a spare tire you got in there?"
"No, that's just a street sign."
"I suppose you stole it from some street corner to put in your bedroom, because you thought it was way cool. Don't you think stealing is bad?"
"Well, everybody is doin' it. So I don't think it's stealin'."
"Obviously I can't argue with that logic, even though I have difficulty understanding why you would carry a 200 pound street sign in your pants for 2 days. Now, class, who hates all Eye-rainians?"
One kid with a backward cap raised his hand to ask a question.
"Are Eye-rainians the same as Persians?"
"I think so."
"Then I hate them all."
"Too bad. Because I'm Eye-rainian. Go report to the school principal that you hate all Eye-rainians."
"But he's Eye-rainian too."
"Tough joojoos. Hurry up. And tie up your shoe laces before you fall down and spill your nachos which I presume you're having for breakfast because your parents both work and the only one willing to feed you was the guy at 7-Eleven." Another kid raised his hand.
"Sir, I love all Eye-rainians."
"Then perhaps you are an Eye-rainian yourself. What's your name?"
"Nima, is your father an engineer and your mother a dentist?"
"Do they drive black German cars?"
"Do they claim to have rubbed shoulders with members of the royal family?"
"Yes! Do you know them?"
"No. I was just checking out the accuracy of a certain stereotype. Now, I'm going to take attendance, kids. Is George here?"
"George, did you know that your roots are showing? Why are you dying your hair anyway? In my day, your hair had to get gray first before you'd dye it. Frank?"
"Frank, are you related to Satan?"
"Then please remove that tattoo of '666' from your forehead."
"Samuel, I'm going to take a wild guess that that safety pin in your tongue didn't end up there by accident."
"No Sir, I put it there myself. It's pretty cool."
"Yeah, right, way cool, dude. That's what I was hoping. I was afraid it came from a sandwich. Is Nicole here by any chance?"
"Sir, Nicole had to be with her surrogate mother who's having an abortion right now."
"Joseph had an infection and is in the hospital."
"Is the infection related to a nose ring, body piercing or any other metallic objects?"
"How did you know sir?"
"Just a wild guess. Class, whoever wants to get body piercing should go to the same parlor that Samuel went to. Joseph went to a different parlor and now he's in the hospital. Now, class, if 4 students went to the parlor that Samuel went to, and 5 students went to the parlor that Joseph went to, how many people would end up in the hospital after their body pierce?"
"Five," the class replied.
"That's right, class. You're all very smart. See, we learned something today. Aren't you glad you're here and not home watching 'The Dawson Creek'? Is Raul here?"
"Sir, Raul is in the juvenile hall."
"Don't tell me he was stalking his ex."
"He was, sir."
"Is Maggie here?"
"Where is she? Has she gone to see 'Titanic' because she has seen it only eight times and is behind everybody else in the class?"
"No, sir. She went to a get a smoothie and a bagel."
"Shirley went to see 'Titanic'. She has seen it only eight times and is behind everyone else in the class."
"Okay. This is not working out. Let's do it the other way. Let me describe some hypothetical situations and Frank, you tell me who hasn't shown up because of that particular reason. Okay? Who's at the court testifying in a custody battle between his parents?"
"That would be Ralph."
"Anybody in jail for free basing coke or selling amphetamines?"
"That would be Max, Fernando and Tony."
"Anybody expelled from school for possession of knives, guns, Uzis, howitzers, biological weapons or other weapons of mass destruction?"
"Was it only possession or did it involve a drive-by as well?"
"Who's at the psychiatrist's office because one of his parents had a sex change operation and he doesn't know whether to call him or her Mom or Dad?"
"Do we have any serial killers in the house?"
"Lucas killed his whole family, but he's out on parole and is in foster care."
"Uhum. Has anybody seen him or his foster family lately?"
"Then I suggest someone call the police after class. Anybody else who didn't show up for any other reason that I may have failed to mention because I'm just too stupid, ignorant, or forgetful?"
"Al isn't here because of an accident he had while snowboarding."
"Did he fashionably run into a tree?"
"No, sir. A bungee jumper fell on top of him and broke his neck."
"All right. Let's all hang up our cellular phones and open your books."
But at this point, the period ring sounded, and I realized Faramarz had been right about not teaching.