Thursday, March 24, 2011

It's Not What You Say, but How You Say It

After teaching my jaycee class this evening, I'm thinking of changing my blog series from "To Quote My Grandmother: 'Why are teenagers so stupid'?" to "Why the fuck am I teaching?"

I spent the weekend grading the first of five essays they will be writing for me; I would have rather been plucking my pubic hairs out one by one. It was that painful. I may not come out of this semester with the same intellect with which I went into it.

My jaycee students have funny experiences and a decent repetoire of wisdom to share, but they don't know how to share them.  Assaulted by texting language, misspellings, countless grammar errors, and slang that I don't understand, I found myself flinching as I read. (Did you know that if you are "talking to a guy/girl" you are in the first stages of dating? I talk to a lot of people, so I better rephrase how I communicate that otherwise I might be known as the whore of California). 

To address this problem, and save some of my brain cells, I developed a lesson that I thought would exemplify the importance of rhetoric. I started by projecting following scenes onto the board:

Bermuda hoped that the dude she jacked from the bar weren’t no microwave minded guy in bed.  Because sex is fun. Sex is a way to show love.
            She took her pants off, he took his pants off she looked at him he looked at her. The light was on.  Bermuda turned down the bedshits and then she got in bed and told him to "come here" and so he said "okay" and got into the bed.  He was so hot.
            She put it in her vagella. He said “ahhhhhh,” she said, “ohhhh” but she really liked it you know so anyways he came and then she came.  He got up and put on his pants. Right?
            Don’t u want 2 have this kind of six LOL!!!!  I mean, you know, sex?

It lay before me: hot, open, ready to be devoured.  Licking my lips, I caressed my fork before taking it up and thrusting into the pasta.  I twirled the firm yet tender noodles around the prongs and then scooping up a meatball, drew all toward my parted, red lips.
            I enveloped the bite dripping with marinara sauce. A few spicy droplets escaped through the corner of my mouth, but I lapped them up. Cradling the meatball on my tongue, I sucked it, rolled it around in my mouth, and slide it down my throat—warm, sweet and totally satisfying.

I asked my students to write about which activity they would rather engage in and why.

The response? Sputters of discomfort, shifting around in seats, avoidance of eye contact --with me--at all costs. 

Apparently, I had caused confusion. 

And then, one student asked: "Can't we have both? You know, have sex and then enjoy the spaghetti?"

Apparently, my students thought I was giving them the choice of having bad sex or good spaghetti. And a few seemed to have inferred that offer included my involvement.

To ameliorate this discomfort, I went into a lecture about how great writing can save an otherwise boring topic and how sloppy writing can ruin a stimulating topic. Careless writing created awkward sex; great writing created orgasmic spaghetti.

So then I asked, "Who wants to have some spaghetti?"

Two out of thirty students raised their hands.

I pointed out that given the two options, I'd rather have spaghetti too. And that what they have given me was bad sex.

Wide eyes stared at me, their slack expressions saying, "You'd rather have spaghetti than sex? You're an idiot."

And, I'm willing to bet that more than a few were thinking: "Man, do you need to get laid."

Maybe I do, but that wasn't the point.

Or, maybe just before I collect a class set of essays I need to have phenominal sex so that I don't give a shit about the quality of their writing.


  1. I agree great writing can save an otherwise boring topic and how sloppy writing can ruin a stimulating topic. :O)

  2. Your orgasmic spaghetti is lacking the sharp, salty, tingling sensation of parmesan cheese...Mmmm

    Funny stuff Ms. Vance! Thanks for sharing!

  3. I love this! It soooo true and when I read this I couldn't stop laughing because it's so true and so sad all at the same time.


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