I had a revelation last night, initiated by a drunk man at the library, but first I have to take you down Nostalgic Lane in order to set the stage.
One year in college I lived in the greatest old house that ever existed. I lived with my three best friends in the world. The house had a front porch whose windows unlatched and popped out (the perfect Saturday morning coffee and tea location) and an ancient claw-footed bathtub. There was random sink and mirror in a walk-in closet that was clearly not designed to have a sink in it. There were grapes growing in the backyard. The place was quirky in general and just oozing charm.
Somehow I ended up getting the dining room as my bedroom. I don’t know how it happened but I probably thought I was being all edgy and Bohemian—like I’d be in better touch with my inner artist for living there or something. The room had three doors—one to the kitchen, one to the hallway, and one to the back bedroom—and one fabulously crooked chandelier. I loved it. The problem was that I was student teaching at the time so I couldn’t stay up until 2 or 3 in the morning every night anymore since I had to be in class at 7am. And by “in class” I mean actually standing in front of a class appropriately cleaned and clothed, presenting a lesson, not coming in late in my pajamas and flip-flops in the back, nursing a cup of coffee. Not that I know what that's like.
One of my housemates was also doing her student teaching but the other two and their boyfriends and friends were definitely not. It seemed like they were doing the opposite of student teaching and that it was all crazy fun that we were missing out on. Those doors did not block out sound or light, and someone was always forgetting I was there and going in and out of the back bedroom while I huddled under my stupid crooked chandelier and cursed anyone who ever made me want to become a teacher in the first place. (Clearly the choice to study education had a lot to do with my under-the-chandelier situation.) So after a week or so I moved into the other bedroom with my friend who was also doing her student teaching and we invested in a loud fan to drown out the forbidden bliss of staying up late.
The only other downside of the house other than the dining non-room was that there was no washer or dryer. That, coupled with the fact that it was in a sketchy area of town, could only result in one situation: being kissed by a crazy old lady at a run-down laundromat. It’s true. One of the grossest yet most fantastic events-to-tell-the-story-about in my life. She accused me of having her jeans on while I was doing laundry and kept muttering about how she would take them and how horrible I was. I didn’t pay her much attention. She was the same old lady who a few weeks prior had told my brother that she was his mom. When I was done I loaded my laundry into my car, sat down in the driver’s seat, shut the door, and BAM! She was there! Right in my face! Just like in a movie. There would have been startling music playing. She was knocking on my window and for whatever dumb reason, I rolled it down, only to be greeted with a big kiss. “I love you!” she told me passionately. Which is when I rolled the window up and drove away to our safe, charming house only a block away. Then I washed my mouth, face, hands, and car window and entertained people for weeks with the tale. She had actually given me more than a disgusting kiss-- she'd given me a story.
The kissing story came to mind because tonight while tutoring at our library, I had a similarly invasive experience with an either mentally impaired or drunk man. The library is situated next to a homeless shelter and it is warm and big and has internet and wi-fi and bathrooms and water fountains and lots of rows of books to live among. A perfect home! I am not unaccustomed to people talking to themselves and strangers or smelling of alcohol. It happens all the time. Keeps it real. Tonight I was working with a student in a more secluded area because of the power cord situation at the tables we normally sit at— some opportunistic volleyball player and her Spanish tutor were monopolizing the outlets. This guy came in, reeking of alcohol and sat down and started talking to the air. He looked in our general direction and asked about us being students and I just ignored him, focusing on what I was showing my student on my computer. Then he stood up by us and emptied his pocket into his hand: he had an iPod and a travel size toothpaste tube. He wanted me to show him how to plug the cord into to his iPod. I told him he had the wrong end and he needed to try the other side. He did and he eventually got it, claiming he couldn’t do it very well because he was an old man (57 he said). I think there was another big reason why and it starts with Te and ends with Quila, but whatever.
Then he wanted me to help him out and let him hook his iPod up to my computer! He went right in for the kill—narrowing in on the USB port on my laptop. I think I was maybe a bit loud for a library when I said, “DUDE! I am not letting you hook that up to my computer! Go away.” He very politely apologized and went and put his arm around a guy at another computer and tried to plug in with him. The regional branch manager came over and asked are you okay and what happened and which one was he, and I told him. It was nice to have him come over and help, but I was mostly focused on the fact that he was a regional manager but didn’t resemble Michael Scott in any way, which was disappointing.
What happened next was the cool part. My student, who had been reading a post on my blog on request (I told her she could read one and tell me the main idea and supporting details) said, “You should write about this! OMG you could write about that man on your blog! So, here I am (OMG) writing about that man on my blog. The man gave us a story and she’s going to read this and love it. This was a great revelation to me. I had never used my blog to teach writing or reading before, but I just might start. In addition to her going home and revising the draft of the essay she’s been working on, I told her I’d buy her lunch if she could find a typo or grammatical error on my blog. My credit card is poised because I’m sure she’ll find won.
So that is how a drunk man made me think about a crazy lady and a charming old house and how I’m going to use my blogging to teach writing and reading. And if you made it to the end of this, I have given you three stories, and I'm not even drunk or crazy. (Student: what are the three stories?)