Tag Archives: teenagers

‘Let’s stay friends’: Quotes of this day

Byron, Ill., prairie, 21 Oct. 2015, afternoon.

Byron, Ill., prairie, 21 Oct. 2015, afternoon.


Between 3rd and 4th period, I heard this in the hallway:

A girl’s voice: “STAAAHP!”

A boy’s voice: “‘STAAAHP!'”

Girl: “I don’t talk like that.”

Boy: “‘I don’t talk like that.'”


And later, I made that dialogue the journal topic of the day. A student said he knew a particular girl, whom he named, who also said “stop” like “STAAAHP.” Another student answered back, “How would you know how she says ‘Stop’?” After we laughed, second student said, “I didn’t mean it like that.”


Student said to another student, whose chair had been making noise, “What is up, Squeaky Chair Girl?” Second student answered, “I know. It’s freakin like EHRRR.”


The announcements read this morning over our school’s P.A. system included this statement: “The U.S. Army will be here at lunch tomorrow,” and I quipped to my students, “That’ll be handy in case a war breaks out.”


A student came into my 10th hour class late today. I asked if she had a pass, or if she were tardy. “No, it’s a long story,” she said. “So you’re tardy?” I said. “Yeah,” she said.


Later, before we read our poems, student said, “I need to reprint my thingies real quick.” When I started writing down this quote, she told me, “I’ll let you know when it’s good,” when a quote of hers is good enough to write down.


Another student in my 10th hour class, student asked if the assignment she turned in the next day would be late. Well, yeah, I said, but I won’t take off points for that. On the other hand, I said, I COULD take off some points. “Let’s stay friends,” she said.


After school, in the student parking lot, I heard a young woman say to others, “he said it looked like roast beef. I was like, ‘oh my god.'”


Also in the parking lot, I heard student tell another student, “dry shampoo is the same thing as regular shampoo. You just don’t get your hair wet.”


In a Mexican restaurant tonight, one seated young man said to another young man who recently entered, “What’s up, dude? I thought that was you,” almost as if he’d said “I thought you were YOU.”

Things I actually heard myself say in class this week

1. “James, get your head out of my armpit,” I said to a student. I had my right hand on a computer between two students, when the one on the right leaned his noggin under my arm in order to see what was on his neighbor’s computer screen.

2. “[Adderall is] not prescribed for underaged drinkers with hangovers,” I responded to a student who had told the class his hangover cure was “water, greasy food, and Adderall.”

3. When a student offered me the opportunity to play in the tackle football game he was organizing with his friends, he told me that the game would be “touch football for you.” I RSVP’d, “I don’t want to be touched by that many people.”

4. When I told students that the music they were hearing during their journaling time was by Stan Getz, a student responded, “Is he rich?” I said, “Stan Getz? I don’t know.” This wasn’t the first time this particular student has, seemingly seriously, asked me questions that seem more like non sequitors.

I Was a Teenaged Smart Aleck

So, one of the fun parts of teaching at the high school where I went to school is that some of the teachers still remember me as a student, and one of my teachers recently showed me a worksheet of mine he’d saved from my senior year in high school, over 20 years ago now.

This worksheet was asking students to make a thesis statement from a given generalization. Most of these I performed in a reasonable way, but then there was this:

Generalization: Cocaine is the rich man’s aspirin.

Thesis: Rich men pay way too much for aspirin.

I don’t remember writing it, but it looks like an authentic document; it’s got my teen-aged handwriting and whatnot. So, yeah, I guess I gotta own up to it — I was a smart aleck.

This shouldn’t be a surprise, really, since I still make snarky, smart-alecky comments. Just a week ago, after a colleague emailed many of us to say she had figured out a way to “mass email” our students’ parents, I responded to all with:

I’d be more interested if you found a way to email mass to our students’ parents.

And so, as I realized that I hadn’t matured in 20 years, I also thought that maybe there was something in my sensibility, going back even to age 17, that was aware of language as something that is slippery, that is fluid, that may always suggest multiple meanings. Even before I could have identified my joke as playing with meanings, before I was aware that was what I was doing, I was doing it.

Perhaps other people accused of being smart alecks may also have this loose relationship with meanings? Perhaps smart-aleck students become poets and/or relativists?