Friday, September 2, 2011

To Quote My Grandmother: "Why Are Teenagers So Stupid?"

The only good thing about starting the new school year is that my supply of funny teenage anecdotes will be replenished.

This is my fifteenth year of teaching, so those first few days of school have lost their novelty. I no longer spend days in the summer decorating the classroom (the posters from last year are just fine); I sleep soundly the night before; and I am not pulsing with excited, nervous energy as fresh new tanned faces come beaming into my room. It's kind of like birthdays after 30: whatever.

But I did learn a few things during this first week of school.

I learned that I am completely desensitized to teenage shenanigans. As an ice-breaker exercise, I have each student introduce themselves by paring an adjective that starts with the same letter as their first name with it and then explain how that word reflects an aspect of their personality. It introduces alliteration, helps them practice elaboration, and helps me learn their names more quickly.

Of course, I demonstrate: "I am Hilarious Holly because I love to make people laugh."

And to ward off trouble, I remind them that their adjective needs to be classroom appropriate.

But this year, first period of the day, first student to introduce himself says this: "I am Juicy Joshua because when you squeeze me you never know what's going to come out."

Day 1, people. Really?

My reaction: I yawned. Forty pairs of wide eyes stare at me. Silence blankets the classroom.  Smacking my lips together, I say, "Thank you Josh for demonstrating what is not classroom appropriate and for making me throw up in my mouth before it's even 8:30."

I also learned that I have "swag."  In case you don't know, "swag" is short for swagger, which means confidence and "game." So, I guess I'll add that to my dating profile and maybe I'll get matched with twenty-one year-olds. Groovy.

My colloquial lexicon continued to expand. When I asked "Beast Brandon" why he chose that word-- after I told him that it is not an adjective, so then he said, "I meant 'beasty'"--he looked at me and said simply, "Because I'm a beast."

"Well, you don't look very hairy to me," I said.  "And your hands aren't claws, so I'm not sure what you mean."

I wasn't sure I wanted to know what he meant; the echoes of "Juicy Joshua" ringing in my head.

"It means I'm tough," Brandon tells me.  Then he flexes his cannons, just in case I need a visual.

Upon asking for a more specific definition, I learned that a "beast" can take a lickin' and keep on tickin'. Stars of actions films are usually "beasts," like characters played by Chuck Norris and Jason Statham.

And finally, I can add "put her (or him) on the blast" to my harvest of knowledge for the week. In my junior college class, I have them introduce each other, and one student said about his partner, "She is very shy so she hates that I am putting the blast on her right now."

Being a trained professional and holding a master's degree in English, I was able to figure out what the student meant, but I inquired anyway. I want to throw down my slang accurately. What "putting the blast on someone" means is to draw attention to or put the spotlight on someone. I asked if I could shorten it to just "blasting him/her," but I was told that the "put her (or him) on" part was critical. "To blast" someone is totally different than "to put someone on the blast."

So, now that I've finished putting my first week of school on the blast, I'm going to use my swag to tame some beasts. But, I am not getting anywhere near anyone who is juicy.


  1. Too funny. You are brave asking for the adjectives. Learned new slang though, will ask my teenage son about "putting the blast on"

  2. What fodder those kids provide! I'm trying to think of the word I would have used, had I been given that assignment as a teenager. Today, I'd say "Kind Katie." Back then? I'm drawing a blank. Could there be so few adjectives that begin with K? Anyway, "kind" would not have occurred to me!

  3. Thanks. I love learning new slang. (I think if you blast someone, it's a bad thing?)

    I'm glad I'm not in your class. I'd have an awful time coming up with an adjective (and deciding whether to use E for Elizabeth or L for Liz).

  4. First, there is absolutely no way I could teach high schoolers. I won't even count the reasons why, but I'd probably make borderline inappropriate comments at "Juicy" for the rest of the year for my own amusement (because, c'mon, these kids would not get my jokes - so that makes it OK, right?). I also recommend you refer to him as "Juicy" in class. Every day.

    Also, if you weren't thoroughly amused enough by your students adjective alliteration, I'll put the blast on myself: Twisted, Terrible (or Terrable if you prefer), Tight (What? I work out a lot), Tenacious (read: asshole), Tortuous, Tolerant (sometimes), Troublesome (all the time), Talented, Tantalizing, Tasty (because of my mad cooking skills).

    I also think you should inform "Beast" that I came up with this nickname about 3 years ago, when my son was born. He is the original Beast and some days he's more beastly than others. He also goes by Beasty and Beastito. And he's hairy. Very hairy.

    Congrats on year 15 - I have no idea how you haven't offed a kid yet!

  5. It takes a special person to teach teenagers, and I am not that person. God bless you, shield you, and give you great come-backs.

  6. I want to use 'putting the blast on' at the earliest available opportunity :-)

  7. Oh, teenagers... *shakes head* I love that you just sat back and yawned at "Juicy Josh." I, too, recommend that you call him Juicy for the rest of the school year!

  8. @Terra and Crystal: I end up in the Principal's office at least once every year, and I don't want it to be for calling a kid "Juicy" because then the Feds have to get involved.

    But if he'd said he was "Jackass Joshua" I would gladly risk a spanking from the principal.

  9. Thank you for visiting I could return the visit and find your blog :). I love its name and I love your blog voice!

    And this post was, erm, "educational"! lol. I wish you would participate in the Rule of Three Blogfest...your story would be well worth the read.

  10. Dude! Sounds like the beginning of my school year. Given that I work on both a Middle School campus, and a HS campus, no surprise, right??

  11. Put someone on the blast, hmm? That one's new to me!
    I love swag, though. How nice that you've got it! :-) Thanks for sharing your first day!

  12. Man, my generation's slang is just embarrassing. I here that stuff all the time at Rio Hondo. Can we just go back to saying "Thats bitchen? " I Love that word. =)

  13. I left you an award on my blog...

  14. Hi (waving all the way from WoW group)
    Very funny post. Loving the humour (which will translate very well into stories - when can we see an excerpt?).

    I've taught junior high before (1 year) and believe me I wouldn't have tried the adjectives. Of course, I taught French, so it might have turned out differently (NOT). Very nice post :-)

  15. I would have described myself as Juicy Jenny, but that's because I'm currently taking steroids.

  16. I am SO going to try to incorporate those inane phrases into my everyday vocabulary...I LOVE IT! I'm Heretical Heather because I generally hold views that go against every organized religion on the planet. ;)


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