It was the first or second day of school the first year I was teaching 8th grade when “Bradley” tried to blow the ceiling off the classroom with what could have been the world’s loudest and longest fart.
It sent the girls sitting behind him scurrying and screaming.
I was at the front of the room when I heard it. Could it have been a truck backfire in the parking lot? Who’s throwing firecrackers in class?
I looked left just in time to see Bradley fall back on his seat — he had been hoisted on his own petard. I guessed a good 6-inches to a foot out of his chair. He landed with a little squish.
The laughter rolled across the room like “the wave” at a college football stadium. For a second, I imagined everybody was throwing their hands in the air like they just didn’t care.
Bradley was clearly a nerd before nerds were cool. He looked like he was dressed by his mama. He had big, thick, black-framed glasses — you know the kind the army issues to recruits to guarantee they will never lose their virginity (or come down with the clap).
The girls behind him covered their mouths and noses like they were in the middle of a mustard gas attack. Turns out they were the meanest of the mean girls in that junior high school.
“Ohhh my gawd… That was the rudest thing everrrr…
He’s so gross…
What is the matter with you…”
I tried to ignore the elephant in the room. Everyone farts. Maybe he had Taco Bell for breakfast?
Practiced my “wait time” and was just quiet for half a minute while the class collected itself. The mean girls eventually returned to their seats and shut up. We moved on, I thought.
At the end of class, the giggles and snickering and general rumors were flowing toward Bradley. The mean girls were pointing at him in the hall and telling everyone who would listen what had happened.
Shit. I should have helped that kid. I should have pointed out that all humans fart — even the mean girls. And squeezing the shit, piss or gas between your ass cheeks while waiting for the class bells isn’t easy for anyone.
I remembered in one of my teacher training classes, the instructor defined a major part of classroom management as “bladder control — all the way through high school.” I didn’t realize that meant gas too. But here we were — with the fart heard round the 8th grade.
Bradley was not in class the next day. He was smart. He waddled into the counselors and changed his schedule. No more mean girls for him. But I was stuck with them in my class. They hated me like I was Bradley for the rest of the year.
I used to punish them, by “crop dusting” their part of the room. Walking through and letting out a silent but deadly and moving on like nothing happened at all. Now that is level 10 classroom management.
Maybe a few months later or the next year, I can’t quite remember, I had “graduated” to only teach the 9th grade. I was in my 4th hour home room class, and we had a few quiet minutes before we released the hordes to visit the lunch ladies.
One of my favorite time killers during a quiet moment was to sit in an empty desk next to the kids, push off the desktop and lean into the metal back of the chair. The snap, crackle, pop of my aging vertebrae always freaked a few teenagers. A quick twist, and I could crack my entire lumbar spine all the way down to my sacrum-coccyx.
They were trapped. Nothing they could do but wrinkle up their faces in disgust or wince at the sounds of impending middle age. Made me laugh every time. I usually topped it off with some old man wisdom like: “Sounds like your future to me…” or “When you are my age, you will be lucky to be this flexible…”
But this time, that sound was not air escaping the gaps in my vertebrae — it was gas bursting out of my bowels. Kevin, the blonde-haired 9th-grade football player straight out of central casting, couldn’t stop laughing. “He farted, he farted.” He kept repeating.
I didn’t learn my lesson from Bradley. I ignored it. “That was my back popping,” I said. “That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.”
But that didn’t stop the snickers and finger pointing. For days Kevin giggled whenever he got near me and would quickly retell the fart story to anyone who would hear.
Weeks later, it was a quiet moment in class, I sat in a kid’s desk next to a “new girl” who just transferred in to my room. I prepared to pop my back.
“You are not going to fart on me, are you?” she said.
Categories: Political Correctness