A Mind That Suits What doesn't kill me, makes me laugh... usually.

Monday, August 30, 2004 :::
It's the maddest, merriest day in all the glad new year, or however that quote runs. Bertie Wooster always says it, but A Mind That Suits has laid off P.G. Wodehouse for a number of years, so he can't remember exactly.

However, today is just such a day, because it provides the one bit of unalloyed humor in the course of the school year, to whit, the First Day of Class. So far, the year has provided nothing but the normal run funny sights. If teenagers wonder why they have the feeling that adults laugh at them a lot, it may be because the adults are indeed doing so, because teenagers are funny to watch. Which fact was confirmed if one stoof in the grove outside the Architecture School with a cup of coffee and just absorbed the vibe this morning.

One suspects they are less funny if they happen to be your own teenagers, but the happiest parents seem to me to be the ones who can sit back and giggle occasionally as their children make their bumpy way to adulthood. You know, when nothing is particularly wrong and the kids are just being kids.

Any parents out there in the Bloggosphere should rest assured that things are going pretty much according to plan, at least here at the Catholic University of America. A certain pudgy, balding English teacher has already encountered one stern young lady who was convinced that it was Room 301's fault that it was not where she felt it should be, and scads of boys who simply could not be expending more energy trying to look like they could not care less. As they are all really all wound up, they really look like they are simultaneously retaining a suppository and about to throw up, not the effect they were hoping for. Upper classmen, of course, are deliberately sauntering in late, as they have gotten the "I can't be bothered" thing down.

This also marks the last time many of them will not look as if they smell if you get too close. The young lads are all fresh scrubbed and clean shaven, although the ones who can pull off the Italian movie star look have that perfect Don-Johnson-3-day-stubble. The young ladies are oh-so-casually made up to within an inch of their young lives, and wearing their casual clothes. Everyone is trying to be as social as they can be while making their way into the jaws of the beast.

This will not last--the clean thing, that is.

A Mind That Suits was reminded of the time that he went into the men's room and found a young man whose designs to impress the young ladies on the First Day of Class had gone seriously awry, poor lad. He had the general air of the 90-pound weakling who had finally gotten his growth spurt and was intent on looking as cool as he couldn't when he was 16. Except that those persistent nosebleeds don't necessarily disappear when your shoulders broaden. So there he was in some seriously stylin' new clothes, head tilted back, bloody paper towel jammed up his nose. Some sympathetic words from a certain pudgy, balding English teacher eased his tension a little, but there was also little he could do except hide. Ah, the indignities of youth.

Why do some kids get nosebleeds, by the way, and why do they go away with adulthood? Must look that one up.

But this brings up the general point, which is that A Mind That Suits simply does not understand teachers who do not enjoy the company of their students. There are other ways to make a living, many of them more remunerative. Teachers should not give off an air of resenting the kids for being kids.

The Catholic University of America was honored a couple of years ago by the arrival of one of the world's most eminent theologians, a member of the Vatican's International Theological Commission. He and his lovely wife arrived from Sweden torn between their desire to work at CUA and their ties back home, including a college-age daughter, the last of four children. And with all the pressures of having to function in a foreign language (which they both speak very well) and getting used to life in DC, they opted to...serve as resident fellows in a freshman dorm. The apartment living room apparently serves as a sound buffer, which is good, because 50 teenagers living on their own can be...what's the word? oh, yes, loud...so they are able to get some respite from all the bounciness. With that little safety valve, they act, ingeneral, as if they could not be happier with the living arrangements. That the college age daughter decided to follow them to CUA has made their joy complete. This all seems utterly natural to A Mind That Suits, and he is happy that someone so elevated in academic rank can be so accessible.

And he wishes that all teachers enjoyed their kids, because they are, indeed, so much fun to be around. As long as you are in charge. You have to stay in charge. But God blessed a certain pudgy, balding English teacher with a deep voice, and a decade of managing large-scale social events has given him a commanding air, if he does say so himself, so being in charge is what he always assumes himself to be.

Oh, yes, and if you run into any of them when they are out on the town and they invite you join in the revelry, do not, repeat, do not let them set the pace. After several years behaving as befits a man of his years, A Mind That Suits ignored that rule twice in the last year. He has learned his lesson, yet again. Once a year, o.k., maybe...but twice? Get a grip, man.

For reflections on last year's First Day, please see August 22, 2003, and on October 22 of that year, you will find a recounting of one of those Two Nights.

::: posted by A Mind That Suits at 10:18 AM



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What doesn't kill me, makes me laugh... usually.

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