Howard was certainly "dragging ass" when he got home, but Tally, his former abductee and current life partner and love of his life for the time being, wanted to hear all about it.
"Tell me, Howard, what did you learn today? Tell me everything," she pleaded* upon his arrival. "All day, I've been thinking of you and remembering the famous saying by the Chinese philosopher Confusion: 'The longest journey begins on the first day,' or something like that. So share, you large, laid-back lug!" (Like Aaron Judge, Howard is 6'7" and weighs 285 pounds.)
Howard sighed a sigh of disappointment.
"Okay, Tally," he said. "As you know, I'm interested in learning about the balance between inviting student participation and relaying information, you know, between discussion and lectures.
"Unless we inspire students to think on their own, to share their thoughts and insights, and listen to their classmates with patience, tolerance and civility, we have missed a rare opportunity and have deprived young people of a meaningful growth experience.
"On the other hand, they cannot discuss the law of gravity, latitude and longitude, the boiling point of water or the contents of a water molecule. We teachers are the founts of this quantifiable learning, so at some point, lecture we must, and become the often scorned Sage on the Stage.
"And of course there's the precarious balance between authenticity and authority. The students need to see the teacher as a human being, you know, 'One of us! One of us!,' but also a person superior in wisdom, more experienced in learning, more mentor than mate."
"So what's your point?" Tally queried.
"I'm just saying these are what I want to learn more about, so today I held up my hand to seek input from the administrators and seasoned but listless teachers, but our principal Mr. Z. cut me off and began the meeting thus**:
'Folks, we have to talk about dress code. We are going to get on top of it this year, and you're gonna write up the non-compliers and send'em down and we're gonna call momma and tell'er to come pick'em up.'
"'Send'em down! Pick 'em up! Send'em down! Pick 'em up!' chanted a large band of teachers, but others tried to shout them down with 'School uniforms! School uniforms! School uniforms,' but lacking the rhythm of the original cry, the second chant soon faded into obscurity.
"Before Mr. Z. could respond, a coach from the back row shouted out, 'I'm tired of seeing cleavage!' Then a woman near the front added, 'And butt cracks! I've had it!'
|An example of cleavage
"'Boobs!' shouted a foreign language teacher known for her candid outspokenness.
"Mr. Z. continued, 'Boobs, right [some snickering from the older faculty]. Your app will beep if the student is revealing two inches of cleavage or more. At that point, you will write up the referral, and send her down.'
"And again, the cry rang out: 'Pick 'em up! Send 'em down!'
"'Now, are there any questions about this issue before we move on to our policy on butt-cracks -- or intergluteal clefts or plumber cleavage, as they say on the streets?'
"A seemingly nice lady who I was told had been at Medford for 26 years had the first question: 'What if the cleavage is, say, 1.8 inches? Do we just issue a warning, and is there paperwork involved in a warning?
'Or what if it's 1.5 inches when she enters the classroom, but through the various natural movements of her body, swells to 2 inches? Can she not claim that she had adhered to the dress code but was then victimized by gravity over which she has no control? Then what?'
"After 17 more questions, we finally moved on to butt cracks about which the major issue was length, sex, gender, sexual preference, sex at birth, and sex currently. Was a guy's butt crack, for example, more of a distraction to girls (or boys) than cleavage was to boys (or girls)?
"Should the butt-crack measurement take place when the student was sitting, squatting or standing? Or was it possible that since fashion has allowed exposed butt crackage for close to 20 years now, the nether crease may no longer be a distraction at all, no more shocking than, say, a bra strap?
"As you can imagine, Tally, my brain quickly dismissed my pedagogical concerns and replaced them with a lurid PowerPoint featuring vivid depictions of various cleavages and butt cracks.
"My colleagues, though, considered the time well spent. Apparently they believe that if the kids cover their bodies in a corporate, appropriate, modest way, they will be more eager to take in vital information about the wide, wide world and all its various cultures and values, and to improve their critical-thinking skills so they can grow up to be happy and creative human beings and informed voters capable of transforming this Great Nation into a land of justice and compassion."
"Bummer. But Howard, you'll be teaching Pre-K kids,*** so why do you need to worry about cleavage?"
"We all have to go to these meetings whether or not the subject is relevant to us. The reason is because they are required. Mandatory. Obligatory. Non-optional.
"At any rate, we were still discussing butt cracks at the end of the day -- literally -- so Mr. Z said we'd have to postpone our discussion of all the new initiatives coming down from the state and some major changes in the benchmarks and standards and the reasons our union couldn't scratch out even a cost-of-living raise.
"'We know y'all have a lot to do and are eager to get to your classrooms and get this year underway,' he said, "So we'll work really hard to finish up tomorrow. Meanwhile, I'd just like to thank you all for all you do on a daily basis. We appreciate your love of teaching and love of the kids, except for Mr. Renfroe's, of course, whose love crossed the red line, sending him to the pen for a while, but thanks to all the rest of you, and give yourselves a big hand!'"
Clap, clap, clappity-clap, clap.
***In the interest of verisimilitude, I should point out that Medford school was very small, so it contained within its halls all grades, Pre-K through 12.