6 Unburned Pieces of The Mind
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Where's My Shorts!

When I taught eighth grade reading at Crosby Junior High, I had this one particular student in my Period 6 reading class that had cornered the market on “obnoxiousness.” Reading class was supposed to be quiet, but for whatever reasons, John found “silence” an extremely difficult concept to grasp. Every now and then he would have to resort to some measure, any measure, to break the silence. One day it was a belching spasm. Another time it was a gas attack that proved you could never have too many windows in a room, even if it was 20 below zero outside. But there was this one eventful day where he really outdid himself.

Somehow, just before coming to class, he had managed to get a black skirt. How, or where, I didn’t know, and at the time I think I didn’t really want to know. After the students had shared their responses to the books they had been reading, I had them settle in for silent reading. While everyone was quietly at their desks reading, including me, John managed to slip out of his Bermuda shorts, and then slip into the skirt. After putting it on he stood up and started to strut about the room. That’s when the commotion started. At first it was just a couple of giggles, but it was quickly followed by loud hysterical laughter.

During the excitement, one of the students noticed John’s shorts on the floor. While John was putting on his fashion show to everyone’s delight, the student reached over, grabbed the shorts, and then got up and walked over to my desk at the back corner of the room, and tossed them under my chair. After the student sat back down, I went over to my desk as if I were going to get a couple of books. I reached down and quickly snatched the shorts. Without anyone looking, I turned around and stuffed the shorts in my file cabinet.

I then returned to the front of the room and sat down at my table. After John had tired of amusing everyone, and the laughter started to fade back to a couple of chuckles, I redirected the students to settle back in and finish with their reading and writing their responses. John went to sit back down at his desk. Just before sitting down, he looked under his desk and froze. “Where’s my shorts,” he yelled!

The student who had hid John’s shorts under my desk seemed equally panicked when he looked over and saw they weren’t there. He cupped his hand over his mouth, and then put his head down between his arms on the desk. I never let on what I did. After the students had settled back in with their reading, John reluctantly resigned himself to sitting at his desk for the remainder of the period wearing the black skirt he had slipped into.

Just before the bell rang, I retrieved his shorts from the filing cabinet and placed them behind my back. When the bell rang John was near panic. “Mr. C.," he said as he looked at me with a pained look. "Someone took my shorts. I can’t go to the rest of my classes like this.”

I looked at John and said, “The next time you decide to play a practical joke, you might want to think about the consequences.” I then handed him back his shorts. I told him he had detention, and then left to go on break. “Oh, John, after you change back into your shorts, shut the door on your way out. And hurry, you only have a couple of minutes before Period 7 starts.