Have I told you that my favorite actor Jason Isaacs will be in Atlanta? Specifically, in September. More specifically, Dragon Con. I have always meant to go to Dragon Con, because cosplayers. Once, some friends and I went to the this train-themed Holiday Inn in Chattanooga, Tennessee for a girls’ weekend and we unknowingly went the same weekend there was some kind of anime convention at the hotel. Oh, it was glorious. We’d go down for continental breakfast every morning and eat with angels and devils and futuristic, alien, animal-like creatures I didn’t even know the names for. Surrounded by 19th century train cars.
I don’t know that I will go. Last year, I was in no place emotionally to go. Also, I spent that weekend working on the TV show idea a friend and I had, that I promptly did not work on after that because Life and stalking. This year, I am better. But also not better. So I dunno. Also, you have to pay for an autograph and/or picture. And I dunno. I kind of think it’s nicer to just run into people like this in the airport or the mall and get that stuff for free.
As a teacher, I do understand celebrities’ pain with this. I cannot walk through a hallway without being accosted by little fans screaming my name excitedly and asking for a hug. At awards ceremonies, I have to have my picture taken with little fans and their parents a lot. I was eating lunch yesterday while my students were at a Humanities class and was interrupted by 20 fourth and fifth graders asking for autographs (in their yearbooks). I only knew 3 of them. Earlier this year, during parent-teacher conferences, this beautiful woman in her 20s walked into my classroom and gave me a hug. She said, “Ms. S, it’s ME! It’s Sarah!” I had no idea. Apparently, I was Sarah’s First Grade teacher in 1998. She looks like she turned out well – she was clean and dressed well, didn’t appear to be on meth, spoke with good grammar, had a nice husband with her…they were at the school for their little boy’s conference. She has a little boy in first grade. (This is the part I go: JESUS GOD I’M SO OLD.)
I’ve been in grocery stores, malls, gas stations, and buying underwear at Target and had strangers walk up to me going, “Oh my god!! Do you REMEMBER ME?!?!! I can’t believe it’s YOU!!!!” and I have no idea who they are but apparently I taught them 15 years ago or their cousin or their cousin’s cousin’s brother’s sister. I’ve been shopping in the produce section and I’ll hear giggles behind me and “It’s her!! It’s HER!!!” and turn around and there’s so-and-so from my school in Mrs. H’s class. It’s very exciting for little kids to be out and about in the world and see a teacher, lord help them if it’s THEIR teacher, out in the world too. We live perpetually, in their little hearts, in our classrooms. Sleep under our desks. Get snacks from the cafeteria. Wash up in the boys’ and girls’ restroom sinks.
Yesterday, as I signed a beach ball, I joked with of the 5th graders I’ve never taught and didn’t recognize about how teachers are like D-list celebrities for kids. And he actually knew what I meant by “D-list celebrities” because he went, “Nah, Ms. S. Y’all are A-list. Super stars! To us you are.”
That kid is going places, I’m sure of it.
Also, I love my school and I get why they have to send the 5th graders on a good-bye walk through the hallways. But it sent off a torrent of weeping amongst the 2nd graders. I had so many criers. Normally, if YOU cry? I cry. We cry together. But this was…holy god, you guys. I found myself too perplexed to cry. I get why the 5th graders were in tears – they aren’t coming back to that place in August. But those other guys??? In a mere 8 weeks, they’ll be torturing us again. With their loud talking and their running in the hallways and their need to not get their work done or follow simple two-step directions. At one point, I found myself going Tom Hanks on them and saying, “Are you crying?? Are you CRYING???? There’s no crying in school!!” And of course there’s crying in school. I do it all the time, at my desk, after everyone’s gone home.
Anyway. School’s over. (For kids it is. I have two more days.) I’m packing up my classroom because I’m moving to a different one. It’s like moving a small apartment – so much crap. What is all this crap?! I’ve been thinking to myself. My organizer student hired herself a team of 4 volunteers and those 5 kids basically packed me up. Occasionally one of them would come up to me holding an object, and in a little voice would go, “What IS this, Ms. S???” which is the little kid, polite version of “What is all this crap??” And one of them looked at the 4 large piles of boxes and things when they were done and went, “Ms. S, you’ve got so much STUFF!!” This is what happens to teachers after 20+ years: crap. Years and years of it. We are hoarders, but we use boxes and bins so we’re sneaky about it.
I’m completely off-track. I think I meant to write about meeting one of my favorite actors, who’s inadvertently taught me a lot about storytelling. He played Captain Hook (AND Mr. Darling) in Peter Pan. Last year, my class picked him to write a friendly letter to – I wrote it on our easel, took a picture, and tweeted it to him. He answered them on Twitter. It was like Jesus acknowledged them (okay, fine, at the time I felt like Jesus hugged me, too). He’s a nice man, and he loves children. And Miss M really likes him because he played Captain Hook in a movie and knows magic. And one time, on Instagram, he put up a picture of him or somebody behind-the-scenes getting make up applied to their butt and that just made her LOL a lot. Because butts are funny. But I dunno. I am tired, Internet. And I feel a lot different these days about actors and other famous people. First of all, they’re people. Right? They eat, sleep, have a dysfunctional need for strangers’ approval just like the rest of us. Second of all, having been stalked good and hard now, I get worried they’ll think, for some reason, I’m stalking them (I am too tired and sad right now to stalk other people, and also people who do that are generally asshats and I am many many things, but generally I don’t think I’m an asshat…unless YOU’RE an asshat to me, and then…okay let’s rumble.) Basically what I’m saying is: I think it’s weird to pay for pictures and autographs from strangers. I actually understand the pictures thing a lot better than I do the autographs thing – you can show people a picture of yourself with someone you don’t know and go, “Look! I met this stranger and we took a picture together!!” But a signature? I don’t understand that. Hi, I don’t know you. Will you sign this bar napkin? I think it’s just nicer to accidentally meet someone and acknowledge their hard work. Make a memory, a shared memory, between you and a potential new friend. The other day, C was in St. Louis for business and found himself on an elevator at the Ritz Carlton with Cedric the Entertainer. He waited until his floor came up, then gently elbowed Cedric and said, “Hey, man. I love your work.” And Cedric said, “Aw, thanks bro. I appreciate that.” And they parted ways. Wasn’t that nice? I think that was nice. Two human beings connecting, all because of Cedric’s stories.
I am also at the point where other humans let me down a lot. I don’t want to get attached to anyone else and have them behave in confusing ways that change how I feel about them. That’s where I’m at right now. Please don’t change how I feel about you. Please stay consistent. Be who and what you say you are.
Okay. I’m done. I’m going to conclude this all-over-the-place piece abruptly. It’s 6 AM, my alarm’s going off in half an hour. I have to go move furniture today and box up some more things from 2003 I haven’t used in 12 years but can’t bring myself to throw away because what if the education pendulum swings back that way and I need it? There won’t be any children screaming in the hallways today (small blessings) but maybe if I grab lunch at the restaurant across the street, I’ll be interrupted by a strange child for a hug or a picture or an autograph as I’m about to put a taco in my mouth.