Sex Ed in Higher Ed

College instructor teaching human sexuality rants about the dumbing down of America, the lost art of manners, grammar and (the perfect combination of both) the thank you note. Also includes random rants about life, pet peeves, and sometimes raves about favorite things.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Why Is There Always One?

You know what I forgot about? I forgot that back in Corporate America - aka "The Real World" - there is always one person who is a giant pain in the ass. And everybody knows that person is a giant pain in the ass and yet? Instead of putting the pain in the ass on double-secret probation, or firing the ass, everyone tip-toes around and finds ways to work AROUND the ass.

Can someone please explain this to me? When I was young and stupid (okay, three and a half years ago so not so young but incredibly stupid), I thought this was a phenomenon only of my current employer. Mr. J. repeatedly tried to tell me that the world is full of great big giant PITAs (pains-in-the-asses) but no - I thought my situation was unique.

Well, duh is all I can say to my old-enough-to-know-better 33-year-old self. Duh.

I work with a woman who is so hideous that after my first run-in with her, I automatically nick-named her "Jaws of Death." I don't know why. I've never even met her in person. She could have perfectly healthy, life-like jaws. It just popped into my head and was much more original and creative than "Hideous bitch" - which, as I came to find out later, is what everyone else calls her. And I only call her Jaws of Death in my mind. Well, and as code that I use when e-mailing a certain co-worker, but other than that, I swear - it's just me and good ol' JOD.

I thought I had seen and heard all manner of corporate obnoxiousness until. Until. We had a meeting to prepare for a meeting. With her. No wait -here is what I mean: All of the people who were going to be in Tuesday's meeting with her were in Monday's meeting. To practice how we were going to do the meeting and who was going to say what on Tuesday when JOD was actually present. Is this woman the CEO? No. Is she my manager? No. Is she my manager's manager? No. Does she have any legitimate power? Not so much. And yet? She is a huge NASCAR fan, enjoys tanning, bleaching her hair and verbally ripping people apart in meetings at work. She's a real Miss Universe candidate.

Hence, we have meetings expressly for the purpose of preparing for the "real" meeting the next day with her. I happened to say this to someone from another part of the company. "I'm confused. Is this normal? To have a meeting to plan for a meeting?" And I'm not talking about some fabulous-presentation-to-the-client kind of meeting. I'm talking about just a regular meeting, with all internal folks and many of her peers. "Oh, yes," the person assured me. "We have meetings to prepare for meetings with difficult people all the time." Wouldn't it make more sense to show the giant pain in the ass where the door is and then cut down the number of meetings to only the actual number of meetings you need to have? Then again, I never went to Harvard Business School. I don't have an MBA. Hell, I've gone through undergrad, a master's program and a significant chunk of a doc program without ever taking a business class. So what the hell do I know?

Ah, well. The good news is, I know enough to recognize an excuse to drink and she gives me an excuse to drink. Which I did. And hence, I am now drunk. Please forgive any spelling errors.

Is it Friday yet?


Monday, November 05, 2007

You Call That a Treat?

I'm like a bride after her wedding. I just keep wanting to relive Halloween and think about it and talk about it, and oh my! So very much upon which we can reflect.

Yeah. Our lives are pretty sad like that.

At one point my sister-in-law and her kids stopped by the house mid-tricking or treating because they had such a serious haul it was just getting to be too much to carry.

I love my SIL dearly. She has survived a hell of a lot and hence, I believe she is a survivor. She's tough. If I had been through everything she's been through, I would be locked up -either in prison or a mental hospital, but locked up, for sure. This is all to preface the fact that she is very religious. I don't care what you do in your spare time - honestly, I don't - but some types of folks who are very open about their religion make me a bit uncomfortable. But because SIL is so sweet and so dear, I can handle it. Most of the time. Also, having been raised Catholic, (nothing stuck except the guilt and this one thing I'm about to mention) I'm a bit biased about the fact that (I think) all the major religions have already been invented. Ditto all the major denominations. (Oh, boy. Am I going to get nasty comments here? That would be ironic.) So when we meet "Pastor Devon" who "invented" this church that meets in a giant 11-screen cinema every Sunday, I feel a bit worried. But Mr. J. and I know it gives her strength, and she doesn't have any money for them to steal, and even if it is a cult it seems like a positive one and holy crap, where was I going with this?

Oh, yeah. Someone in my neighborhood gave out Jesus coloring books. And dear SIL was over the moon. "Oh, a person after my own heart!" she swooned. "Isn't that such a great idea?" And I was looking around for someone to kick under the table except there was no table and you shouldn't kick children. (Or so I've heard.) I smiled and listened to her as she read the stickers that came with the coloring book, "He bled and died for you and your sins." Well, I guess that kind of goes with Halloween what with the blood and other gory, disturbing references?

A few days later I was telling my soon-to-be sister-in-law about this and she nodded wisely. "I know. When I was little there was a guy on our street who gave out toothbrushes." And so over the past few days I have started informally collecting a list of non-candy (and hence, otherwise disappointing) things that people received while trick-or-treating (as children, people. Trying to keep it clean here!)

In addition to the Jesus coloring books and toothbrushes, I was reminded of folks who would hand out .25 and .50 coupons for McDonald's. Does anyone else remember that? Sort of expensive, I guess - especially since I went trick-or-treating in the 70s and 80s and you sure could get a lot more bang for your, um, quarter back then. But still - when you're a kid looking to get enough candy to launch you into a sugar high that allows you to orbit the universe, a piece of paper isn't going to cut it.

Another friend told me her daughter got PediSure bars. I wasn't exactly sure what these were and I had to look them up. They're kind of like candy, right? Sort of for the person who ordinarily gives out granola bars, maybe?

And then someone who shall remain nameless told me she gave out individual packs of applesauce because kids like applesauce. Well, yes. For lunch with a peanut butter sandwich. Not for the tooth-rotting holiday of all holidays. I also remember getting pennies and pencils which didn't taste very good but were great for injuring younger siblings in a variety of ways.

So I'm dying to know - what's the weirdest/non-candy thing you ever got while trick-or-treating?


Friday, November 02, 2007

Teacher Lady's First Trick-or-Treat

This year was the first time in all my 37 years that I actually gave out candy on Halloween. In the past Mr. J. and I have lived in high rises and townhomes and other places that didn't get trick-or-treaters. (Although I remained hopeful. There was the great fake-out of 2005 when I was convinced that the woman in the townhouse across from us was going to bring her grandchildren to our little community for Halloween. I don't know how I got this idea into my head. I even bought candy. Alas, it was but a fruitless fantasy.)

I don't know why I was so excited but I actually said to people, "This is my first Halloween!" They'd look at me and think, "Why, because you have amnesia?" and I often had to remind myself that 1.) Handing out candy to strangers wasn't that big of a deal; and 2.) No one cared.

Was it everything I thought it would be? Yes, and more. Mr. J.'s sister brought over 2 of her children. Jane was a "cereal killer", complete with giant cereal box taped to her torso with plastic spoons "stabbed" into it. Jack, who turns 7 today (Happy Birthday, Jack!) was a Spidermanvampire.

Yeah, exactly. Jack and I had this conversation last week. "What are you going to be for Halloween?" I asked. Jack looked at me and said in a monotone voice, "Spidermanvampire," Like it was all one word. Taken aback, the only thing I could think of to say was, "Huh?" Jack sighed. Adults must be so exasperating at times. He explained, "I'm going to wear my Spiderman costume from last year but not the hood thing. Mommy bought me vampire teeth. See? Spidermanvampire." Now that is some serious creativity. "Wow, Jack. That's pretty great. How did you think of that?" I could tell he was this close to rolling his eyes, "My imagination!" and if it were me saying that I'm sure I would have added, "Duh!"

So Jack the Spidermanvampire and Jane the cereal killer went off into our fun neighborhood with the houses close together and all the sidewalks a trick-or-treater could ask for. Mr. J. even got home at a reasonable hour and we sat on the front steps and handed out candy. We had been informed by our next door neighbor that it wasn't unusual to have around 150+ trick-or-treaters but we were ready.

And then - I don't know what happened or from whence she came, but of all people - Teacher Lady showed up! I couldn't believe it. First, she - I mean, me - handed out candy to a small boy wearing a giant white puffy jacket, a baseball hat on backwards, enormous jeans that were practically falling off him and I swear he had a cigarette tucked behind his ear. "Trick-or-treat" he said, swaggering up to the front porch. I looked at him skeptically. "What are you, Kevin Federline or something?" I think this boy wasn't much older than Jack. He might have been 9 at the most. He was appalled. "NO!" he shouted. "I'm mumble-mumble-something-mumble wrestler from Ultimate Fighting Champion!" And then he thundered off, mutinous that I could have mistaken him for Britney's ex. Mr. J. looked at me. "What, exactly, is wrong with you?" he asked. I was the picture of innocence. "What? Me? What do you mean? I was simply asking a question." Mr. J. just shook his head.

But things got even worse when another boy, this time maybe 10 or 11 marched up the driveway to the front steps, held out his pillowcase and said trick-or-treat in a monotone voice. I squinted at him. He was wearing a navy blue sweatshirt with a hood, normal-fitting jeans, regular tennis shoes. But there was something about his hairline and serene face (and maybe the hood) that made me think of a monk. I asked, just to be sure, "And who are you, honey?" I asked. Monk-boy shrugged sheepishly and said, "Myself."

Oh, no. I did not spend $40 on candy at Target for you to not even steal your mother's lipstick and earrings and make a feeble effort at being a drag queen. Something. Anything was better than, "Myself." Teacher Lady must have been really bored without anyone to mock all summer and fall. She fully possessed me and looked Mr. Myself straight in the face. "That," she/I said firmly, "Is really, really lame. I'm going to give you candy tonight, but next year you're going to have to come up with something better because this is ridiculous." He nodded at me, listening, looking all serious while Mr. J.'s jaw dropped on the ground. "Oh. My. God. You cannot do that!!" My response" "Oh, I think I can. In fact, I just did and I don't see anything wrong with that." As I turned to distribute candy to two teenagers wearing pajamas (also lame, but at least they're ready to be college students, showing up in public wearing pajamas like that), I heard Mr. J. exhale heavily. "You set the bar way too high," he said.

And then Jane and Jack came back with their mom to refuel on pizza and I decided it was better if I stayed in the house. I wasn't ready to teach college. Apparently, I'm not ready for trick-or-treaters either.