I have taught for over 20 years and over those years I have had some interesting characters in my classes. One of my most interesting and troubling students was James*(name changed). When I attended the SunBelt Writers Project at Auburn University we had to write a program about someone who had shaken our belief system. I chose James.
Ode to James
James enters the classroom, surveys all present. Sees his buddy Fred and a playful puppy is ther for the day. This day is a rare one, Fred doesn't come much. James is a child in a man's body this day. He seeks constant attention and stroking from me and leaves me drained at the end of the hour. This was one of the good days.
His Fila shoes and fade are status symbols of his project life that seems a million miles away this day. His clothes, clean but few, are the outward signs that he is stylin' with the best. Oh, James, the outside is only a small part of you. I wish you understood that today.
Then comes the day when Fred does not appear and James enters the room like an angry mastiff tossed into too many gambling arenas for entertainment.
Untouchable, snarling, unfeeling, angry, hurt, with a mouth as big as all outdoors. He pushes into the room. There will be no learning here today.
I pass his desk and he reeks of alcohol. I must deal with this breach, but will I lost him in the process? His large, dark, question eyes haunt me day and night.
I know there is something special beneath this facade of contradictions. At my bleakest moments, feeling like a failure, James looks into my eyes and with his lopsided smile, assures me that we are OK...at least for today...and that is enough to hope for. With James it will always be one day at a time.
To Joey, With Love....WINNER!
11 months ago