Tag Archives: Soapbox

School’s Out. . . For Summer!

Yeah, dudes. Today is the last day of school for students and teachers who are part of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School system.

Which means that Hyper Lad and I are free for the next couple of months.

Well, really, Hyper Lad is free. I’m just sad.

As you might remember, I’ve been working as a Title I Tutor at Awesome Elementary here in Charlotte for the past almost complete school year. And, honestly, I don’t remember when I’ve had a more fun work year.

It was a treat, a joy, an appallingly wonderful experience to interact with these little dudes and dudettes, their teachers and the school in general during this school year. I really had a hard time holding it together over the last week or so as I considered that this might be the last time I see some of them.

The deal is that the funding for my job is from a federal source, which means it’s not the most stable source around. It could have been offset by the state, but it’s cutting more than 400 teacher assistant and tutor positions around the state in the coming school year. Personally, I think that’s extremely short-sighted. They’re exchanging a happier future for a slightly more solvent present, all so they can avoid making the hard choices like antagonizing their major campaign contributors by making the rich pay their fair share.

I’ll get down off my soapbox now. Sorry.

Anyway.

With the funding for my position gone, so am I. Which means I won’t be around to watch as the younger kids keep growing and learning and turning into young men and young women. I won’t get to watch the fourth-graders prepare themselves to become middle schoolers.

I enjoyed working with all of these students, but there are a few that will remain my favorite. These are kids who really worked hard, who had a spark in their eyes, who loved to learn, or learned to love it. These are the kids who had to overcome even more obstacles than did most of the kids at this mostly-poor school.

I watched them overcome so much, and helped as much as I could. And now I’ll not get to see them as they keep working and keep growing.

Oh, I will be back at least a little bit. I mean, I just can’t go cold turkey. But I’ll only be there as a volunteer and not there as a worker or someone who sees them everyday.

Still, I can’t thank the teachers, students and administrators from Awesome Elementary (known in it’s more everyday guise as Huntingtowne Farms Elementary School). I really feel like I should have been paying them over the course of the year. I’ve come to care about them more than I ever thought possible. Come to depend on seeing their smiles and hearing their voices.

And, for me, as of today, they’ll all be gone.

I don’t pretend that any of them will really miss me, or wonder all that much about me come next year, but they will be on my mind. Dwelling in the small space they dug for themselves deep in my heart.

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Neutral To You; Slightly Terrifying To Me

by Richard

There’s very little that will induce the startle reflex quite like that engendered by standing at a urinal, letting it all hang out and then — midstream — hearing the light, tinkling sound of a woman’s laughter. Coming. From. Right. Behind. You!

All of which goes to say: Sorry, Mr. Bathroom attendant. It wasn’t my fault.

Or maybe it was. I was the one who ignored the sign put up at the insistence of the Human Rights Campaign during its recent fundraiser in Charlotte, NC.

Here. I snapped a picture. Of course, it was after I’d been startled, but at least I got it at some point.

Pardon me, ma'am, but do you always stand while peeing?

The Human Rights Campaign, HRC, (Go there and give the dudes some money. Amendment 1 here in North Carolina is as vile and pustulant a piece of legislation as has come along in years and they could use some help in fighting it.) is an organization working to establish equal rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered individuals in today’s culture. As you might imagine, that’s a tough sell to a lot of people in the south.

Now, me? I’m right on board and willing to give money. I think it’s a stupid cause, if only because it’s so self-evident that people are people and if one person has a right so should the next person. Until you do something explicitly against the law, you all should get equal protection under that law. If some gay folks want to suffer through marriage like the rest of us, I say the let’s spread the misery.

So, down off my soapbox there.

That sign was what greeted me when I went creeping through the long lines to the restroom. That should have been my first clue. I mean, when was the last time at a large gathering of men and women, was there an actual line out the door of the men’s bathroom. I was busy chatting and so didn’t notice the sign until, in passing, as I went inside.

Since I’d seen no actual women (or wasn’t paying close enough attention, I guess) I thought it was just a cute attempt at showing us how far we had to go. Surely not in Charlotte, the button-down capital of the world, the women and men would not share a bathroom.

I forgot, of course, just how much women hate waiting in line for the restroom.

After wandering over to the urinal (how you could tell this used to be a men’s room), as I said, I was using it for its intended purpose. When that nice lady behind me laughed, it caught me by surprise. And, almost, by zipper.

I’m sure I must have presented a scary sight as I turned almost completely around above my belt and didn’t move (well, didn’t move much to be fair. Again, sorry, Mr. Bathroom attendant.) below, my eyes bigger around than the rough white cakes sitting at the bottom of the urinal. Fortunately, I was able to recover relatively quickly and didn’t start in a round of laughter actually directed at me, rather than just uttered near me.

The two ladies wandered to a stall of their own and thence to do their business. I zipped up and stumbled to the sink to wash my (among other bits) hands. I got bumped from behind. Then from the side. I kept getting bumped. I looked into the mirror and saw a huge crowd of men all pushing toward the sinks, all suddenly done with their business now that the women were in the stalls taking care of their own.

Crowd surfing turns out to be less fun than I imagined.

It definitely was a learning experience. With a little preparation, I was able to go back and be much more swave-ee and de-bone-er this time around. I actually held the door open for a nice lady with whom I’d chatted while waiting in line. Turns out she was as nervous as I had been.

See? All just people. No matter how different we are, we’re still a bit nervous about going to the bathroom in front of someone of the opposite gender. Hey?!? That’s not bad. Do you suppose the folks at the HRC thought of that when they made these gender-neutral bathrooms?

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Look At Me!

by Richard

No, seriously. Look at me!

And now for a moment of pure self-promotion and ego rubbing.

Not sure how it happened, but — out of the blue — I received a request for a copy of one of my stories, Freakshow, so a lady could review it for her website, Weirdthings.com.

I was, to say the least, quite thrilled.

Here, without any ado at all, is where you can find the review.

If you dudes are intrigued by the review, you can find Freakshow and a number of other stories in a similar vein, at Amazon.com by clicking here.

I’ll climb down off the soapbox now and let you dudes get back to your non-Richard lives now.

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