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14 Aug

A Freak Of A Different Kind

Lara – the guest-poster you will meet below – is, simply, one of the loveliest young women that it has been my pleasure to meet. Which is saying something, because I used to teach university students and so I’ve met a lot of young women – which is to say, women who are younger than me (OH GOD I am now at an age where I think of anyone under the age of 27 as a ‘youngster’) (*having a moment*) in my time. Many of them were spoiled Beemer-driving trust-fund girls who played with their hair and sent text messages while I lectured about Machiavelli, but still. Some were nice and funny and wise beyond their years. None of them, however, would have – as Lara did in San Francisco last month – graciously offered to take my squalling infant and pace back and forth across the back of a conference room with him while I prattled on about some such or the other. And none of them could match her warmth and friendliness. Not by a long shot.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re going, “Is she back yet?” Because you all love Her Bad Mother and you thrive on her words of wisdom about shredded nethers and bloody nips, so you’re all eagerly awaiting her return. I know. I sympathize. I really, really do.

That said? No, she’s not back. You’re stuck with me.

Who am I? I’m Lara David, and normally I’m writing way over yonder. But today, I’m keeping Catherine’s place nice and cozy until she returns, and you’ll all sit there and you’ll like it DAMMIT!

Sorry, I got a little carried away there.

Today, I’m going to tell you a little story that I like to call, “What the hell kind of freak do my coworkers think I am?!” (Descriptive title, eh?) It starts with a staff retreat and a get-to-know-you game. For those of you who don’t know, I’m going into my first year as a high school teacher – English and French, because I know you were gonna be all, “Oh, what do you teach?” So, one week before the start of school, we all got together for a “retreat” day. I feel compelled to put the word in quotes because a) I didn’t feel like we actually “retreated” from anything in our six hours of sitting and listening to people talk at us, and b) because I feel like retreats are good things and this was, uh, not good.

So we’re on this “retreat,” and we start the day with a brief keynote speech from the principal and then a GAME! Because who doesn’t love to play GAMES? This game was a “Fun Fact” game, where all the new staff got up in front of the room and the old staff had to try to match up “Fun Facts” with the folks they belonged to. And let me just tell you – we have some WEIRD staff at this school if these facts were any measure. The worst part, though, was seeing what people guessed my fact was before they managed to get it right. First guess was:

I have swallowed a camera.

Great. Either I’m fat, or I look like I could deep throat your point-and-shoot. I’m genuinely unsure which one is better. In any case, this was not my fun fact, so they had to guess again. Second guess?

I sucked my thumb until I was eight.

Now, I’m not going to go trashing thumb-suckers, because many of you parents out there probably have one or two of them around, and that’s fine. In fact, even the fact that a kid struggles until age eight is okay. What bothered me was the absolute certainty with which they decided, “LARA’S THE THUMBSUCKER!” Have people been closely examining my hands? Do they look pruney? Or do I just look like the kind of gal who enjoys putting things in her mouth and sucking relentlessly? Because, again, not sure that’s a great vibe to be giving off to my colleagues. So we move on to guess number three:

I once peeled a banana with my toes.

Okay, I guess I can’t complain too much here, because my toes are freakishly long. They’re even fairly dextrous – I’ve been known to pick up pens and spare change from the floor with my toes on occasion. But touching food? Food that I might want to EAT? Um, no. I draw the line somewhere. Guess number four:

I was a child actor/actress.

Finally, they got it right. Yes, from age 4 to age 10 or so, I acted in commercials, minor educational and student films, etc. I was actually an extra in Terminator 2, which is an awesome fact to toss around, but embarrassing if you watch the film, since my scene involves me riding a bike and I couldn’t ride very well. So if you’re ever watching that movie and you see a little girl in pigtails weaving on a bicycle like a frat boy on a pub crawl, that’s me.

All in all, it could have been worse, I guess. Sure, my colleagues think I have the esophagus of a porn star, the nervous habit of a small child, and the toes of an ape, but I’ll focus on the things they didn’t think about me. Like that I went to China in 1980. (I was born in 1982.) Or that I ran over my own leg with my car. (Not a total idiot, thank you.) Or that I scarred my calf in San Quentin. (Uh, yeah. Excited to work with you, Bob!)

It’s going to be a good year, I can tell.