English Lessons for the Scatalogically Ignorant

Masarwa man - http://natavillage.orgIt’s five minutes before my noon class on Tuesday, October 11th, 2011, my 37th birthday. It’s an otherwise ordinary day: I’m laying out markers, practicing grammatical example sentences, eyeing up trouble students. I pour a glass of water and reconfigure my boxer shorts in an effort to counteract their invasive nature. I lean over, feigning interest in my notes while my hands are in my pockets unrolling them against my thigh.

At one minute to noon, as I am engaging in small talk to get the students laughing but stopping short of breeching my lesson plan, I get the call.

The call comes every October 11th. The message is exactly the same every year, though the voice sounds a year older each time. I pick up my phone.

“Hello,” I say.

“Happy birthday, you fat cunt!” the voice has the same Cockney, but is a bit more grizzled than on October 11th, 2010.

“Thanks, buddy.” The students are reading my expressions and whispering amongst themselves.

“Love you, mate,” the voice says.

“Love you too.”

Click. Class begins.

The class goes well. I make jokes and don’t feel thirty-seven at all. The students laugh when they’re supposed to, work when they’re supposed to, and crinkle their brows in understanding when they’re supposed to. I feel good and exuberant. You are only as old as you feel, I think to myself as I leap around the room, reaching the unreachable star of making twenty-year-olds interested in grammar.

And then something happens.

One of my students takes out a two liter bottle of coke and takes a huge tug on it. The action evokes a gasp from me. I look around the room at the other students eating chocolate and cheese sticks.

The girl drinking soda notices my look of amazement and frowns. “What’s wrong?”

“That soda is so bad for you.”


This sends me into a four-minute proclamation about moderation, drinking water, eating vegetables and the dangers of too much cheese. I move on to the glorious kidneys and her need for juice and water; about the resilient liver and its oft-overworked chambers.

I turn to a student. “When was the last time you went to the bathroom to sit down?” I vocally italicize the last phrase.

“Oh,” he laughs as he gets the meaning of the question. “Hm, I don’t know,” he says and stares off in search of the answer.

“Oh my God!” I can’t imagine not having this information. Perhaps this is because I employ a poop chart in my mind. This chart is not discussed with the students. However, and to the delight of the students, I embark on an edict on keeping regular and the need for a good bowel movement once a day. “It’s why coffee exists,” I shout. I draw a picture of the ascending colon and discuss its need for apples and plums.

I feel that I am getting through to them. One student is taking notes, another has drawn my ascending colon. A third has written and circled in red pen: coffee = poop.

This feeling of accomplishment is blown out of the water when a buzz concerning the cafeteria’s lunch special runs through the classroom.

“What is for lunch today?” I ask.

“Smažený sýr,” is the unanimous, and joyous, answer. A block of fried cheese.

Class ends. Two difficult realizations encroach as I wipe down the board. First, to these kids I am the grizzled voice on the other end of a phone. Second, aging is what you make it, and I have apparently made it bowel health. I am leaving the room as my third realization becomes evident.

My boxers have become a make-shift thong.

The result is shameful joy.



  1. #1 by Andy Renfro on October 14, 2011 - 9:32 pm

    A Poo-story? Glad you’ve gotten your priorities straight as you advance in years, buddy. Glad the “Funniest Man Alive” still liberally sprinkles birthday wishes with “Cunt”; I’d be worried otherwise.

  2. #2 by horizon fitness elliptical machine reviews on October 15, 2011 - 6:02 am

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