A Freak Of A Different Kind

August 14, 2008

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.

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    { 18 comments }

    Heather August 14, 2008 at 11:47 pm

    Oh gawd. I hated those games that we had to play. Let’s get to know one another by finding out how weird we all are!

    Bob sounds like he’ll be a riot. Good luck with that.

    Tara@From Dawn Till Rusk August 15, 2008 at 3:30 am

    My colleage went on a male bonding/team building weekend once with a bunch of male managers and they played this game. And one of them, a really timid type or normally sat in the corner and didn’t say boo to a goose, stood up and said “I have one testicle!” Like you’d share that with a bunch of men on a macho weekend!

    Shannon August 15, 2008 at 7:43 am

    I hate those team-building activities too (I’m also a teacher). Drives me nuts, and you usually end up coming home less of a team than when you headed out to go to the freaking team-building activity. It never works if beer is not served!

    'That Girl' August 15, 2008 at 9:50 am

    Yuck, games.

    My friend the teacher just spent an entire week in our capital city for workshops and such..she said they handout material was exactly the SAME as last year’s. I guess they weren’t banking on the freaky hoarder girl to keep that crap.

    Pamela-ATL. August 15, 2008 at 10:07 am

    That was a good laugh!

    smiles4u August 15, 2008 at 10:30 am

    I don’t like games like this either but they can very interesting when it’s not me that is standing up front.
    Have a great school year!

    Jenny, the Bloggess August 15, 2008 at 11:05 am

    Dude. That entire Terminator movie *hung* on your bike riding scene. You are too humble.

    Ali August 15, 2008 at 11:05 am

    i love that they thought you swallowed a camera! ahahaha!

    Oz August 15, 2008 at 11:40 am

    The one of those getting-to-know-you games I hate the most is the one with the M and M’s – you know, they pass around a bowl of candy and you think, “Yum, candy, I’ll take a few or ten or twenty,” and then you have to share something about yourself for every single piece of candy you’ve taken. The candy just doesn’t taste so good after that.

    lavandula August 15, 2008 at 11:42 am

    hahaha! i will look for you next time termninator 2 is on …

    whensheworeponytails August 15, 2008 at 12:36 pm

    You know now I need to see Terminator 2 just to find your scene, right?

    You have an interesting group you’ll be working with. I’m going to have to bookmark you to see how it turns out.

    Anissa Mayhew August 15, 2008 at 9:11 pm

    I respected you a lot more for the millisecond I thought you could get all porn star fabulous on a Nikon D40, but I guess I’ll just have to love you because you RAWK!

    kittenpie August 16, 2008 at 2:48 pm

    God, “team-building” organized fun is THE. WORST.

    flutter August 16, 2008 at 6:02 pm

    team building is so gaggy

    debra August 16, 2008 at 6:11 pm

    How does one even begin to swallow a camera? One must be part anaconda, no?

    Child actress, huh? Well, I learn something every day. My fun fact would be “I worked as an undercover cop”. Or was that, “I worked over a cop under the covers”? Either way…

    Rose August 16, 2008 at 6:26 pm

    Dude, the guy who “swallowed a camera” totally had an endoscopy and is trying to make is sound cool.
    Also how does one “drive over their own foot,” that sounds pretty challenging!

    I too now have to go rent that movie. Great post!

    Lara August 17, 2008 at 2:32 am

    rose – you’re totally right about the endoscopy. :-P

    Frogs in my formula August 17, 2008 at 11:27 am

    We did a “fun fact” thing at my office and I jokingly lied that I survived a shark attack (I have a huge scar on my leg from knee surgery). The fun fact ended up in the co. newsletter, as in “Who in marketing has been bitten by a shark?” People would stop me in the lunchroom and ask me to talk about it, if it wasn’t too painful. I felt like a huge ass. For awhile anyway.

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