Monday, there were signs of impending handbasket delivery all over Newmentia.
It was the annual before-tournament pep rally day. So we had an assembly to fire up the team and the fans.
Normally, we faculty stand along the rail at the end of the sunken gym, where we can look down upon the bleachers full of would-be ne’er-do-wells. Close enough to the action to enjoy the festivities, and also close enough to nip trouble in the bud. Sometimes, the stinkeye is enough. Other times it takes a finger-snapping with a pointing. Occasionally a name called out to get attention. And once in a blue moon, it takes a point, a thumb-jab, and removal of a pupil from the general population. The kids know this. They keep an eye on our section, and mind their Ps and Qs.
But this day, as I walked through the cafeteria doors to the gym, I saw that our spots were taken. TAKEN! Like a poorly-saved seat at the Paradise Twin Theater for a showing of Prognosis Negative.
I had a good mind to give up and go next door to see Rochelle, Rochelle: A Young Girl’s Strange, Erotic Journey From Milan to Minsk. But I couldn’t, still being employed at Newmentia. So I shuffled on down. Down past the three custodial staff lining prime rail real estate. Past other members of support staff. Past the plethora of recent grads returned to grace us with their presence on this near-holiday. Past the underclassmen gathered around them. All the way to the glass backboard.
Yeah. That’s how far I was displaced. Other faculty went the other route. A couple sat in the midst of the pupil body, which means at least they are behaving nearby. But visibility in low. Others leaned against the cafeteria wall, unable to see the bleacher kids, and most of the goings-on down on the gym floor. Some stood at the rail behind the bleachers, where they could see, but could not catch student attention without charging in like a bouncer at a biker bar.
So far down the rail was I that the coaches had to elbow me out of the way to grab the ropes to pull the piñatas of the other teams’ mascots out from under the wiffle ball bats of the participating players.
We had a real live Hungry Hippo competition, with four faculty being chosen to lay belly-down on scooters and capture balloons under inverted laundry baskets while pupils pushed them and retrieved them with a rope tied to the scooter. I told Arch Nemesis that she was the best Hippo. Jewels had an issue with her cardigan, the wheels of her scooter running over it and burning several holes. Brainiac was slow for a thin Hippo, and the Street Lawyer cheated so much that his efforts didn’t count.
The Pony got in a tug-of-war over a t-shirt shot into the crown with a giant two-cheerleader rubber band. Thank the Gummi Mary, he did not suffer the fate of Ned Flanders’ wife. He actually let the girl have it, then she tried to give it back to him when she saw that it was an XL. The Pony is not an XL either, so they tossed it to a buddy down the row.
A top-row pupil took the paper holder off her rolled-up crowd-shot t-shirt, and threw it several rows down, where it bounced off a tough guy’s head. I think she was actually aiming at her brother sitting next to tough guy. TG jumped up and turned around. Had I been closer, I could have squashed that beef, but rail-clinging in Outer Mongolia, I thought, “Meh.” There were enough hillbillies there to stop a tough guy from thumping a rude gal.
And, as if that displacement of the guardians of the gymnasium wasn’t enough of a sign…today I walked to the teacher lunch table and saw a sub sitting right next to my chair. Actually, she was kind of IN my chair, although I can sit at the one next to it, depending on how the chairs are skewed on any given day. Not only was she taking up that chair, but she had her bags spread next to it. Uh huh. BagS. You’d have thought she was newly homeless, what with all the stuff she had piled around her.
Jewels came out to join the Think Tank, and had to sit WAY BACK from the table. Thank the Gummi Mary she did not have stinky fish for lunch, because she was between me and Sub, and four feet back from the table.
Yes. I regret that the truckload of handbaskets is rumbling down the highway, and my proposed handbasket factory was beat out on the bid. Perhaps this load is just priming the pump. A call to action which will garner future business for Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.