Tuesday, June 30, 2009

"Mrs. Reagan's Holy Water (1991)"

A Short Story from Dart Safety and the Purple Bikini
“Mrs. Reagan's Holy Water(1991)"
by W.Z Snyder
© 2006 William Snyder

My eighth grade science students were busy copying diagrams of mitosis and meiosis from their textbooks into their science journals. I assigned heaps of science diagrams that year. They looked good hanging on the classroom walls. Very colorful. I had no business teaching science to these students whose working class parents were paying 125 dollars a month to insure their children a superior Catholic school education. I was certified to teach English. Mrs. Chun taught English next door. She was certified to teach Math and I don’t know what the math teacher was certified to teach. I guess these parents got a better deal than my mother received when she sent me to Catholic school in the 1960’s. Nuns provided my elementary education and I'm quite certain they weren’t certified to teach anything. There was only one nun left at Saint Agnes. Her name was Sister Rose. She was very old and quiet and sweet. I never saw her beat the devil out of anyone’s knuckles with a ruler. Perhaps she had mellowed with age. The odds are old Sister Rose had whacked a few knuckles in her day. She was a nun. Chickens cluck and nuns beat on the knuckles of grade school children with twelve inch rulers; it's the law of the Catholic school jungle baby.

Joe Tinsley walked purposefully to the front of the room to pick up some colored pencils. I was standing, leaning on an old wooden podium. I could feel his presence lingering behind me.
“What are you doing back there Joe?”

“I’m checking to see if your bald spot got any bigger.”

“No respect. I get no respect,” I said.

“This is a science class. I’m observing data.”

“Glad I can help. I do what I can.”

“How old are you, Mr. Snyder?”

“I’m thirty-one, Joe.”

He walked back to his desk and did some button punching on his calculator.

“By my calculations, you will be completely bald by the time you’re forty.”

I want to point out that at the time of this writing, I am forty-five years of age and I am not completely bald.

You can read the rest of this story in Dart Safety and the Purple Bikini. Check current postings to learn how to purchase Dart Safety and the Purple Bikini.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The First Story of the Summer

I knocked out my first story of the summer today – first draft complete at 2,800 words. Writing has been a challenge at la casa de Snyder. Today my granddaughter knocked a speaker onto my grandson’s head. I picked my grandson up, bounced the crying boy on my knee and kept on writing. No retreat, baby. No surrender. The story is pretty out there. The eighteen year-old me has a beer with the forty-eight year-old me and God. I’ve been reading Zora Neal Hurston’s Moses, Man of the Mountain and I’m thinking Zora had something to do with the plot. The story is going to need plenty of work but it felt good to get the first one under my belt. Fourteen more to go.

Yogi Bear is smarter than the average bear,
Yogi Bear is always in the ranger's hair.
At a picnic table you will find him there
Stuffing down more goodies than the average bear.
He will sleep till noon but before it's dark,
He'll have every picnic basket that's in Jellystone Park.
Yogi has it better than a millionaire
That's becasue he's smarter than the average bear.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Commander McBragg, Roller Skating, Writing and a Texting First

It’s been a fast three weeks – too fast. My summer school students were pretty good pranksters. The highlight of the three week session came when I ran to the office to make copies and returned to find they had moved my desk out into the hallway. Crazy darned kids.

My goal is to write fifteen short stories by the time school resumes in three weeks. At 1,500 words into the first story, I’m finding it hard to get the creative juices flowing.

Yesterday we celebrated my daughter’s eleventh birthday at the skating rink yesterday. I laced up the skates for the first time in a solid decade and showed the kids a few old school moves. All I can say is falling is bigger deal now than it was ten years ago. I’m moving a little slow today.

I finally broke down and sent my first text message yesterday. My daughter will be attending school in California next year and I realize I’m going to have to text her if I want to communicate with her.
You might be wondering why I included the picture of Commander McBragg. No reason...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Summer School, Michael Jackson, Steve McQueen and Dirty Harry

There was a half hour left to go. One of my summer school students stood at the front of the room delivering a presentation on a book by Chuck Palahniuk. We were all out of gas. It’s been a helluva long two weeks and four days. One of the girls pointed at her high dollar texting gizmo and shouted that Michael Jackson was dead. I asked her if she knew who Michael Jacks was. Before she could answer someone else said he was in the hospital. I dropped my head to my desk as just about all of my students pulled out their gizmos to find out whether Michael Jackson was dead or in the hospital. A lanky kid in a Black Sabbath shirt said he wondered if people holding tickets for Jackson’s upcoming tour would get their money back. Everyone soon agreed that Jackson was dead and not in the hospital. The kid up front went back to his Chuck Palahniuk presentation.

Steve McQueen turned down the role of Dirty Harry.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Time Flies, Baby

I’m baaaaack…

Hello. Just thought I’d drop a quick post to let you know I’m still kicking. The last month has been intense – like the circus fire.

There were the study sessions and final exams. My daughter graduated from high school. My other daughter turned eleven. Hard to believe how fast time goes. I almost forgot my wife’s birthday. And then there’s summer school; I spent a couple of weeks preparing to teach senior English. Things changed and the summer school bosses asked me to teach PE. Sounded good to me. Sounded easy - and quite frankly, I’m OK with easy. Then at the last minute the bosses asked me to teach sophomore English. I had 48 hours to plan the sophomore English summer school course.

A full year of English in three weeks is an interesting endeavor. Lucky for me, my students are nice. The highlight of the first two weeks came when I returned to the classroom after a trip to the restroom. I opened the door to find a wall of books and desks; the kids had effectively walled me out. That’s funny stuff.
And then there was the kid who wouldn’t smile. Finally got him on the ninth day – with this Chuck Norris joke: The Boogey Man checks his closet at night for Chuck Norris.

One more week of summer school to go. I hope to get back on the writing track.
I’ll post another story from The Eight Fingered Criminal’s Son next week.