Monday, April 27, 2009

Three Truths & One Lie: Mr. Lab Rat

You know that awesome game Three Truths and A Lie wherein players profess four statements, three being factual and one being fabricated? No? Yes? Maybe? Not applicable?

This week I thought we could play it together. I will post Monday-Thursday three true stories and one tall tale, then on Friday you can vote which story you think is the fake.

Is this fun? I can't tell.

But here it goes, Story One:

After my mission to Montreal, I sought employment with my cousin Jayne at a local elementary school. I taught reading skills to students who need the extra help. I loved that job.

When I resumed my college studies I kept working at the school in various positions. I helped develop the after school program, taught study skills and gave my best to extra-curricular activities, so help me. After I graduated from college, the visionary principal (who I loved) allowed me to set up a writing program where students who displayed interest in exploring composition could come once a day and study with me. I loved that job even more.

But before that time came I spent some dark ages in the school's computer lab teaching about computers. And typing. I was so depressed doing that work I lost a bunch of weight, which was really nice, actually. But still. I hated that job.

One day while I was teaching about the joys of hard drives, a new employee of the school came in to meet me. He was going to be the new . . . um . . . I can't really remember why he was hired. But I soon found out that his real job was to annoy the lifesource out of me. Oh gravy.

He was a bleach-tipped newly returned missionary who had penchant for calling me to repentance while reminding me of how much he hated my fashion choices. Unfortunately, his job required his time be spent in the computer lab with me. I remember one day he was assigned recess duty and I wished recess could last all day. Just like second grade.

He kept a running narration of everything I did, from picking up the spilled pencils wrong (why did I have to spill them in the first place? he wanted to know) to answering the phone with an unacceptable intonation. Every day I came home with pages of irritability written on my forehead. I unloaded on Chup and in turn he continually offered his sympathy services, but gently reminded me that I need to keep the job because he was an on again/ off again working actor.

One day when the lab was empty I dared enter into a conversation with Mr. Socks and Sandals about dating. He was single and spent a lot of time telling me about the swarms of women who wanted to date him and his white Jetta. It was during that conversation I found out that his childhood sweetheart had penned him a Dear John when he was on his mission. After that she made matters worse by marrying his best friend. In what was his most humble moment yet, he admitted that he told both of them to never contact him ever again.

The annoying dude had a seriously broken heart.

It suddenly all made sense. Having spent many semesters studying human behavior, I understood that Mr. Pompous Idiot was overcompensating. It was too easy, why had I not seen it all along? And yet, even the way he looked sad like a puppy bugged me. His droopy lip and darty eyes, ready to spring back into Mr. American Eagle made me suspicious. I just couldn't give him pity.

But I thought about him all the day long. I re-read some of my texts on suppression. I even prayed about what I could do to restore some of his esteem. As sweet as this sounds, I actually did it all for me. All because I needed to keep my job as much as I needed him to stop tempting me to gouge his eyes out with a (oops-spilled) computer lab pencil.

The next day I noticed some sixth grade girls coming down the hall. The older girls in the school loved to stop by to flirt with Mr. Righteous Indignation. And he loved the attention. Our lab was set up with a large printer which attracted people coming in and out all day. Classrooms from all over the school would send their printing to be done wirelessly in the lab. Occasionally, I would sort through all the print jobs so that when the students came to retrieve their papers they would be ready to go. Suddenly I had an idea.

Once I was alone, I typed a sappy, exclamation-riddled, love note that only a six grade girl (or someone who had once been a six grade girl) could author. It was juicy with desperation of tender feelings. Just the right amount of adoration and "I think you're totally cute"ness. I addressed it to Mr. Ate Chili For Lunch Every day and Left the Crusty Utensils in the Room (but wrote his real name) and signed it From, Your Secret Admirer. Then I set it to print.

Later that afternoon, I asked Mr. Tight Shell Necklace to check the printer for me as I was "waiting for some test scores." As he sifted through the paper rubble, he discovered the note and stopped. Reading it out loud for me to hear, I watched his countenance change. His bleach tips went from platinum to glow-in-the-dark. He was beaming. The rest of the day I taught in peace, my enemy having been completely fulfilled in the thought that someone (anyone) esteemed him higher than jeans from Old Navy.

Things seemed to get better from there on out. The school year ended, and I moved positions to a cold, dusty classroom on the abandoned stage. I've thought about him since, (but not too much) and hoped that my little lie helped him discover a truth in himself.