There's a thing about teaching in the town where you live that is somewhat quaint, almost timeless, and also kind of charming. My husband is an administrator in the same school where I teach, and both of our kids go there too. Every morning at 7:25 the four of us grab our backpacks and our lunchbags and hop in the car together. We drive the three quarters of a mile to school while our daughter brushes her hair, our son buttons his shirt and asks why there has to be a dresscode anyway, and Peter and I iron out the plans for the afternoon and evening. That's quaint.
Except when it's not.
Our town has about 20,000 people in it. Our school is the only private school around. It's a small school, where everyone knows everyone's everything. That makes it ultra quaint, except of course if you want to be a little bit anonymous or a little bit brave or a little bit aloof or a little bit anything different from what you were yesterday.
Let's say, for example that you wanted to be in a musical that the excellent local theatre company was putting on. That might break the mold of the usual fifth grade teacher in the quaint little very expensive private school. That would be a little bit weird and could very easily rock the proverbial boats of the quaint people who are part of that exceptionally sweet and adorable little elite school.
Especially if one of the scenes in the play, which for argument's sake we'll call "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," required you to wear a very little extra tiny, and just a little bit slutty costume, and rub yourself all over a male actor. That might be a whole lot for the quaint folks of said school to swallow. And then you'd have to make a decision.
You'd probably start out by trying to fit into both worlds very safely. You might be up there on stage trying on the one hand to do your thang, all the while trying to send the message to the audience (who isn't even there yet because it's still rehearsal) that they,as quaint people, have no need to worry, because you're not really LIKING what you're doing. "You see," you'd be saying with your eyes and your body, "I'm only doing this because I absolutely have to. If it were up to me, I'd be being teacherly in the classroom with your adorable children. I'm very matronly,quite predictable, and really rather boring like you'd expect, so don't you worry your pretty little selves."
And then, what might happen, is your director might call you out in front of the whole cast during your dress rehearsal. He might say something like, "YOU DON'T LOOK SEXY AT ALL! IT LOOKS TO ME LIKE SEXY IS NOT ANYWHERE IN YOU! ARE YOU GONNA WORK WITH ME OR NOT!?!!"
And then you might be crushed in your heart because being all quaint has cost you so dearly. You'd then need to ask yourself a very important, somewhat timeless, ultimately UNquaint question: How much is your independence worth?
You'd have to make that decision.
And then maybe you'd decide to hell with any judgers who are quaint. Maybe you'd be willing to admit to 5,000 people who each payed $20.00 per ticket that you're actually not all that fucking quaint. You might even decide to let down your guard and play the damn part, in all its slutty glory, and see what happens.
And maybe if you were brave enough and also kind of lucky, you would return to your quaint elite little school, and you'd realize that most of the people got what you were trying to do, and inside they knew that everyone should be brave once in a while. But if you were really paying attention, you might even realize a lesson that's truly precious, like a star lingering at dawn: you don't give a shit if they get it or not.
This is a dangerous post to write.
3 days ago