February 13, 2013
Writing about teaching memories instead of "The Awakening Storm" -- and I enjoyed writing that chapter so much. It just flowed along, so easy to write.
Irregular verbs--- God, how I came to hate them. Some of them rhymed, and that was a problem, since not all of them did. My slowest students never heard of them. Not just irreguar verbs, anything that was irregular, not in their small world. "Of WHOM do you speak?" wasn't ever gonna work -- but "WHO you talkin' about?" did. Forget THAN. "It was colder THEN a witch's tit" worked just fine. Ditto for verbs. Teaching about verbs was living dangerously. Kind of like being point man on patrol in 'Nam.
STINK, STANK, STUNK. "So," said Shrimp, "ain't it THINK, THANK, THUNK?" I countered with a No, you wouldn't say you missed your friend, so all day you THANKED about him. Shrimp looked as if he might if it would cause irregular verbs to go away. "Why don't they just put ED on all of em? If it's SING, SANG, SUNG, then why ain't it BRING, BRANG, BRUNG? That rhymes, don't it?" Now I told Shrimp it was BRING, BROUGHT, BROUGHT, a piece of unwelcome news to him. "You said that BROUGHT two times, already," Shrimp objected.
Give me credit, I didn't give up easily. Well, sometimes those words do that, they change once and then stay the same. Like SIT, SAT, SAT and SPIT, SPAT, SPAT.
"Spitted," said Big Guy. "Buddy just spitted on me."
Shrimp was now in the dictionary. "Shit ain't in here," he announced. "So, is it SHIT, SHAT, SHAT?"
I allowed that was correct. Heads were tilted sideways now, like a spaniel looking at a new color ball. I was messing with minds here. "I ain't never heard of that, ever," ventured Shrimp. "You sure it ain't SHITTED or just plain SHIT?"
Buddy was grinning, enjoying the teacher's discomfort. He had gone to the board to write the past tense of the verb COME and had written "I CAME on the train," and the class snickered, proving that both fog and sex come on sneaky little cat's feet. He was looking forward to LIE and LAY so he could go to the board again and write "I got LAID on the train."
I struggled on, trying to explaln one word could be used different ways, becoming two different words. We say I SHINED the silver to mean we POLISH it (and I wrote the word "Polish" on the board) and yet we use SHONE if I'm the moon giving off light down to the earth. "That ain't right," said Big Guy. "It's POLE-ISH -- my grandpop is Polish."
Buddy was reaching over, turning rightside up the girlie magazine he'd given to Shrimp. He looks at me and says, "We ain't never gonna use none of this, you know."
Desperate, I ask Lilly, a widow across the street, if she will help grade some papers. After a few weeks, tests on irregular verbs came back to me smelling like bourbon. Turns out, Lilly was a recovering alcoholic, and I caused her to fall off the wagon. Forget asking one's husband to help out. Husbands write insulting things on test papers ("You want to stay in the 7th grade for the rest of your life?") and then one must use white-out on both the front and back (since students can see it from the back), and they ask,"Why is this stuff all over my paper?" Husbands do this on purpose so you will never again ask them to check a paper. They go play golf. Come to think of it, I could use a drink myself, right about now.