Do my students drink orange juice in the library over Labor Day weekend? Considering most of them are 19, that’s what I tell them they should do. Drink age-appropriate beverages somewhere boring, maybe take a nap. If you do anything over the weekend, only tell me if you’d also be comfortable talking about it in an interview with your grandparents, the police, and Mr. Rogers.
I tell my students I don’t want to know about their street cred. If they’re known across the West as the most daring jay-walker to ever set foot beyond a crosswalk, I don’t care. If their friends know them as the shot-gun because they can toss back a pint of whiskey in under a minute, I don’t care. I’ll call them Dave or Alex or whatever my roster tells me to call them. I ask my students about their life outside my class because I like getting to know them, but I also tell them not to reveal any illegal activity or anything I’d be required to report because my university owns me and if they tell me something illegal happened, it’s the same as yelling it in the middle of the Dean’s office. I don’t like it, and neither, apparently, do my students because they are just so damn eager to tell me shit I don’t want to know.
Why do so many of my students want me to know how much they drank over the weekend, or how often they smoke weed on campus, or how much cheap liquor they’ve got stashed in their dorm. I can’t make the connection: why do they want to tell me this?
I’m their English teacher. That’s like the collegiate equivalent of the person who cuts their hair because they only see me in one place and I critique what they give me and cut it up so it has the potential to grow into something better. You probably wouldn’t tell your barber about how many recreational drugs you were planning on doing once you finished your haircut. You tell them about your job and maybe a bit about how much you hate the president, but mostly you talk about little things, easy things, tv, if you’d seen that new animated movie that looks really cute but you can really be sure because it might be too depressing for a weekend, traffic.
I tell my students that I don’t want to know and I really shouldn’t know what kind of illegal shit they’re up to on the weekends.
So why, when I asked my students what they were doing over the long weekend, did I learn how many of them were going to try to find fake IDs or just get someone older to buy them booze. Why the shit are you telling your barber this, kids.
I can’t do anything to stop them from telling me what they want to do, and I tell them all they need to know about me being the university given slouching, exhausted human form. There’s not much more I can do on the preventative front. So I have a theory on why they tell me anyway.
They think I’m actually 12 and are trying to impress me. It’s your classic ‘biggest kid on the playground’ situation, and they’re trying to show they’ve got what it takes to be captains of the jungle gym. In this blog, haven’t really talked about what I look like beyond “bad” and “has a mop on head” but in the right light, I look like a tall child. Some of the black, bruised bags have left my eyes now that I’ve put some temporal mileage between me and grad school, so I get carded at bars a lot. I think my students are doing some kind of mental ID check whenever they see me, and they’re assuming I’m at an age where I can still be impressed by alcohol. It’s really annoying and almost cute that they think they sound cool when they’re talking about knowing someone who will get them a 6-pack for twenty bucks when, in reality, I’m not impressed and am really just questioning their business acumen because they’re getting ripped off.
It’s Labor Day weekend. I’m going to be eating good bread and celebrating the brief respite from the exploitation of my time and energy that happens every other day of the year. Apparently, my students are going out with their parents in the day and overpaying for shitty booze by night. I don’t care. I tell them not to tell me anything illegal, and I ask them to be safe, and I remind them how much homework they have for me.