Friday, December 20, 2013

Theory 26: In the Christmas season, men just need to do what they are told.


Last week, in Theory25:Dang you Tupperware ladies, dang you! But I do love your products, I confessed that I’ve purchased only two Christmas gifts—thanks to a guilt-shopping experience at a friend’s direct marketing “party”. Today is December 20, 2013. I am in the red zone and totally stressed out about Christmas. I do love holidays, just like I love Pampered Chef products, but boy do all the preparations and expenses take a toll on me. Plus, holidays bring intense thoughts that further scatter my brain. Tall Child and I miss our fathers. I feel so sorry for the paper inhabitants of the Angel trees. I feel guilty for being absent so often at church this year. I grieve for the grieving. I look at my beautiful Gnome and wonder how his birth family feels this holiday. My heart breaks for men and women still waiting to become parents through adoption. Women connect it all: left brain lists, obligations, and responsibilities and right brain emotions, attitudes, and energy. I have too much to think about and do and it’s making me sad and mad. My anger seems to be directed toward men, and from what I hear in the teachers' lounge, I’m not the only Mrs. Claus with claws this time of year.


Yes, I am the Grinch of Glen Cove subdivision, (Though I wish I were as skinny as grinch. I’m up 4 lbs., which ain’t helpin’ my mood!) Worn out women should be focused on the birth of Christ, not hypocritically singing “You’d better not pout, you’d better not cry, you’d better not shout I’m telling you why….” Christmas is a musical time. Here’s a medley for ya:


“I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling” 42 and
“I work hard for the money” but
“[I] load 16 tons, and what do [I] get, another day older and deeper in debt”
I’m warning, “Whoa oh here she comes, watch out boy she’ll chew you up. 
Whoa oh here she comes, she’s a maneater.”
So, Tall Child, please “get physical, physical, I wanna [you to] get physical,
Let's get into physical,
Let me hear your body talk, your body talk,
Let me hear your body talk” as it strings these LED lights, finds the extension cord, digs that big wreath out of  basement, and assembles this plastic version of the Alamo. Now.



Hey, at least I can say “Mama tried.”


We women can’t just toss out some red and green Dollar Tree objecto de` artos. Oh, noooooo. We must create magical, mystical, battery and electronically powered worlds. Actually, we must create experiences that awaken and entertain all the senses, at once, every moment of every day, for at least thirty straight days. Our homes should look and feel like the inside of a snow globe.


The Christmas to-do list is monumental, complex, and IMPORTANT and women who “have it all” also have to “do it all.”


Honestly, have you ever heard anyone say, “I can’t believe [insert man’s name] didn’t put up a Christmas tree yet” or “[Man’s name], have you bought any Christmas presents” or “Hey, [man’s name], which Christmas Eve service are ya’ll attending?”


To illustrate, listen to the conversation I had last week with Fancy (university professor and mother of three boys):


 Time: 9:30 a.m.

Location: Elementary School Gym, back row so we can lean our aching bodies against the cinderblock wall and not lose our pocketbooks through the bleacher gaps

Bug: We drove by your house last night and booed you because your tree wasn’t on.
Fancy: I don’t have a tree.
Bug: What! It’s the middle of December. Better get with it, Fancy.
Fancy: [Expletive], I have not had one minute to get a tree.
Bug: Can you get one today?
Fancy: [Expletive], my three boys have 6 basketball games today.


It never occurred to me to ask her husband, The Gentleman, who was sitting right beside me, if HE had bought a tree. He just sat there, looking handsome, eating popcorn, watching the ballgame, dreaming of a white Christmas.


I’m not bashing Tall Child and friends. They care. Tall Child, as his nickname should imply, LOVES holidays. Last Halloween, I hit five stores to assemble Sharky’s zombie fighting Rick Grimes Walking Dead costume, fought Gnome into his football player costume, bought candy, took treats to Gnome’s daycare party, and made trick-or-treating plans. Tall Child did escort Sharky and friends through a neighborhood. He also rolled a yard. Well, actually, he panicked and rolled a tree. I love that guy!


I did create Christmas jobs for Sharky and Gnome as follows:
Sharky: water tree, get mail (Christmas cards)
Gnome: push the red button on the white box to turn on the pretty tree lights


*Cute note: When we brought the tree in and set it upright, Gnome said, “Yay! Now turn it on!”*


Like any man, proud of his hard work.

Let’s break this Theory down by the senses, then further break it down by traditional gender responsibilities. This may reek of Southern female submissive wives. But, hey ya’ll, we love our big ol’ strappin’ men.



Sound
Women:
We hear screaming hyper children and wrangle them. We tolerate Santas and rocking Rudolph’s on our counters, which means we also have to unplug and replug the toys to open Spaghettios. We carol and force our children to carol. When carolers come to the door, we listen and force our children to listen, while men hide in their recliners. What happens if the Domino's guy comes to the door while the carolers are singing? Should he join in? Should we tip everybody? We hear glass ornaments hit hardwood. Then we hear ourselves sweeping said glass into dust pans.
      
Men: Men hear themselves crack walnuts that women left in a festive dish on the coffee table.  Men hear ESPN Gameday.

Guys, get up! 



Shaking his Christmas booty



Smell
Women: We light evergreen and apple spice candles. We lean cinnamon-infused brooms from Kroger against entry walls.

Men: Say, “Oooh, something smells gooood.”


 Boys, light a fire under it!

Touch
Women: Buy, wrap, lift, hide, and deliver gifts in a thousand directions: daycare, school, church, coaches, hostess gifts, secret Santa office parties, God-forbid cookie exchange, friends who say they won’t buy one and do (so confusing),  and family. Then you have the gift matrix: Gnome to Sharky, Sharky to Gnome, Tall Child to Gnome and Sharky, Gnome and Sharky to Tall Child, Bug to Gnome and Sharky, Sharky and Gnome to Bug, Bug to Tall Child, Tall Child to Bug (we hope), then exponentialize all this to Delicious and Bop and cousins and exchange names? I am so confused. The Recession actually helped me out. Did anyone else out there start drawing names during the economic downturn? Don’t go back to the matrix. Please. Then I may have to.


Men: Ripping paper. No bags for my guy. Tall Child prefers presents wrapped in tissue, encased in boxes, wrapped in pretty paper, tied with ribbons that require scissors. It’s an experience, remember? He’s okay with a t-shirt or socks or his annual one-a-day devotional calendar as long as they are wrapped this way.


I took a break from Christmas cards for a few years. But, after we brought home Gnome, understandably, Tall Child begged me to send Christmas cards. I pitched a hissy fit and demanded he at least stamp and mail the envelopes. He stamped them alright, on the top left corner of all 200 envelopes. I pitched a hissy fit sequel and said, “People are going to think I don’t know how to put a stamp on an envelope and I teach business education!” Tall Child argued, “I did it.” I argued back, “Nobody will believe that.” (He IS too good to be true sometimes.) Tall Child went to the post office and asked a clerk for clarification, called me, and said “No problem. Stamps work anywhere. Cards are going out today. No delays. That’s right. Who’s your daddy?”


Christmas cards from better people than I am
Help!


Taste:
Women: We hit the grocery store one thousand and one times. We bake cookies and simmer fragrant dishes for our families, other families, our office parties, our husbands’ office parties, for our mothers, our mother-in-laws, potlucks, you get it. And we figure out ways to carry it all without ruining our work and doling out food poison.


Men: Eat.

Teacher Treats


At least bring your plates to the kitchen!


Sight:
Women: We create and foster the experience. Then, we create miniature experiences within the experience, a.k.a. the Christmas Village and Nativity sets. We also design the system. Glass ornaments up high. Stuffed animals down low. Lights in front of windows. Something shiny for each neighbor. Appropriately spaced candy dishes, nutcrackers, Santa collections….  And, of course, we monitor and protect all the above. I’m losing my grip. Joseph went for a Jeep ride, wrecked, and did not recover. Jesus is flat out missing. The last I saw him he was wrapped in swaddling clothes and hiding under a bedspread with some banana bread crumbs.


Men: Say, “This looks awesome! I love Christmas! Thanks for doing all this Bug.”



An aerial view of an experience within an experience
Thanks for the thumbs up, S.C.!

Tall Child, please find Joseph. Mary shouldn't have to do this all alone.

Let us "recall, the most famous [sense] of all" - the Sixth Sense - one of Spirits:


I have to confess. I am terrified I’ll forget about Santa Claus. Not only do I have to ensure that the original legend is protected, but I also—dad gum it—created my own mythical tasks (back when I was a relatively stress-free housewife hopped up on happy juice and holiday spirit).


Now I have to be you-know-who AND make sure you-know-who eats cookies, drinks milk, and wipes his dirty boots on the rug I place in front of the fireplace. Then I have to make sure Sharky and Gnome leave a Christmas card for you-know-who and later write him a thank-you note. Shoot. We haven’t even written him a Dear Santa letter yet. At least I can get Tall Child to stamp and mail it.


Don’t even get me started on Elf on a Shelf. Ca-ching and congrats to the mother who thought up that tale! Gnome named his elf Blarg. Huh? At least he bought the story hook, line, and sinker. Unfortunately, I’m not the best at leveraging legends. Yesterday I said, “Gnome, you are acting ugly. You’d better straight up because Blarg can see you.”


Gnome said, “No he can’t. He’s in the other room.”


Male readers, don’t be haters. I get tired, but I love doing all this work to see Gnome, Sharky, and Tall Child happy. I know that many of you help create magic for your families. I work with great men and am married to my dream come true. So, take this post in stride. And, answer this question: Why do scissors always disappear on December 24?

The moral of this diatribe is that if I ask my 6-foot-3-inch tall elf to carry a box, or set up a manger scene, or put lights on a bush, he should just do as he's told. Tall Child and friends, if it helps, think of it as a competition, pretend you are on a basketball clock, and, as we used to chant at Pigeon Forge Tiger ballgames, "h-u-s t-l-e, hustle, hustle, totally!" If your lady asks you to help, don't argue with the coach. Be all Nike and Just Do It.

Wake up, men, we need you!

And please ask your wife/mother/girlfriend how you can help her. If your best buddy is a Christmas dud, help a brother out. Go hang lights and haul stuff at his house and keep the po-po at bay this Christmas. Don’t leave the tree stand on the tree when you throw it down the hill January 1. Which brings me to Theory 27: The epic, memorablemarital arguments have titles.



Oh, and Tall Child, “What are you doing New Yeeeeaaaaar’s, Neeeeew Yeeeeaaaaar’s Eve?” 


See you next post. Until then, think outside the barn.

Also, visit Amazon.com or my website to read about my book, The Eye of Adoption, my short story, Field Day, and my collection of essays for parents and teachers, Parents, Stop and Think.

Author website: www.jodydyer.com



Let's talk! Find me and friend me!


Facebook: Theories: Size 12 (See each post, comment, share, and talk directly with others readers and me!) I'd LOVE to hear your theories!
Twitter: @jodycdyer
Author website: www.jodydyer.com
Buy The Eye of Adoption here: Amazon.com

Friday, December 13, 2013

Theory 25: Dang you Tupperware ladies, dang you. But I do love your products.

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Last week, in Theory 24: Teachers are money hustlers, ya’ll, I closed by quoting Downtown Queen. She said, “I was so happy when I retired from teaching so I didn’t have to buy any more junk from my colleagues! If other teachers are so broke they have to sell stuff, what makes them think their teacher friends can afford to buy it? Every time I went in the teacher’s lounge there was some product or some catalog laid out by the microwave.”

Don't we all have a Tupperware drawer?

Here is a related quote from Wikipedia. Yes, students, I am quoting from Wikipedia. I don’t have time to find a journal article, identify evidence in the text, and use MLA citation to credit the source. I’ll save that for my master’s thesis. Remember, I’m busy hustling. Anyhoo, here’s what some unknown but, in my opinion, totally accurate contributor says: “Tupperware pioneered the direct marketing strategy made famous by the Tupperware Party.” Who doesn't love a dish that can fly? Well, Tall Child, actually. 

Thanks so much you direct marketing pioneers. Yes, you’ve liberated some housewives but also forced us to sell and shop by capitalizing on three issues (urges) women constantly struggle to balance: being good mothers, shopping, and guilt.


I totally understand the three components of the Trifecta.

1. Time for Family - Women want more time with their children. Tall Child backs out of the driveway to deliver Sharky and Gnome to their respective schools early each morning. I pick them up. We are apart MOST of the day. That stinks.

2. Shopping – We are gatherers. Ya’ll, women are very different from men. We are talkers. We need to say lots of words and gather lots of things. We are (most of us) service-oriented. Why not shop, talk, and help our friends all in one man-free location?

3. Guilt - Most women work. When I was a housewife, I felt guilty for not helping Tall Child pay bills. I concocted schemes (see Theory 24), sold flowers, substitute taught, and hammered his real estate signs into the ground. I wanted to contribute, but I didn’t want to sacrifice time with Sharky and Gnome. Catch 22 guilt – not uncommon for modern working mothers.

This Trifecta of female characteristics has made Tupperware a legendary household name and made millions for the companies who followed suit:

Avon
Amway
Pampered Chef
Rodan & Fields
AdvoCcare
Mary Kay
Thirty-One Gifts
Matilda Jane
Park Lane
Arbonne International
Premiere
Southern Living
CandleLite
Scentsy
PartyLite
Stella and Dot
ViSalus
Tastefully Simple
Creative Memories
Discovery Toys
Stampin' Up
Cloud 9 (intimate apparel)

Whew, and these are just the companies with which I’ve had direct marketing contact. By the way, my friends have sold this stuff and I wish I could afford to buy more of it. Why? For one thing, I love the products. They are high-quality, aesthetically pleasing, functional, and they last forever. Plus, I am a contestant in the battle of the Trifecta! I want to support my girlfriends’ independence, I love to buy stuff, and I feel guilty when I can only order the cheapest thing in the catalog. But, remember, I’m a teacher hustler. One day my ship will come in! Maybe you readers can buy my book, The Eye of Adoption, and help my ship set sail! Ooooh, maybe I could host a book party! Hmmmm, this teacher hustler has an idea.


Delicious and I talked one day about how teenagers “go goth” to be different but then find themselves in hundred-person packs of black-clad, silver-studded gothness. They conform to non-conformity. Kind of like all those “individualistic” mountain men in Asheville, NC who have the exact same facial hair-do’s.

I particularly like the conforming to non-conformity explanations we women give when we pick up the direct marketing banner. Here are a few I’ve heard or, ahem, said:

I’ve had an epiphany.

I really wanted to contribute to the financial security of my family.

This product has changed my life.

I love the products and get a huge discount.

I enjoy spending time with my friends and talking about household products.

The Lord called me to sell _______. (Did not hear this from the intimate apparel saleslady).


Honesty is refreshing and actually a really good sales strategy. Maybe “direct” saleswomen should be just that—direct. They could say:

I am tired of hearing my husband gripe about the grocery bill. I need my own cash.
I want Dollywood Gold passes. Every year.

I miss working but I don’t want to get up at 6:00 a.m. and put on panty hose and have a boss.

I want any reason to hang out with my buddies, drink wine, and shop. 

Simple math. If twelve women come to my house, one man will leave.

I’m saving up for a divorce.


Of course, there’s also the super guilt, guilt component. Let’s call it G2 (Guilt Squared.) I go to the party even when I’m broke because I’m afraid no one else will go to the party and I buy something because I don’t want the hostess to think I’m a mooch. So confusing. Teachers get paid once a month. Delicious says, “I just don’t feel right until I’m almost broke.”

Once, I asked her, “Do you ever balance your checkbook?”

She said, “No. I like living on the edge.” Direct salesladies, if you are marketing to teachers, host the party on a payday. Hustle smart. Ladies, doesn’t it seem like we get invited to these parties when we are flat out of money? 

Also, “market” your products appropriately. A work buddy told me that his Sunday school classmates were telling praise and prayer requests when a fellow Christian said, “I’d like to give praise to my four-year-old son for bringing me my morning AdvoCare Spark.” Not cool. Can I get an “Amen”?

So, say you are a “living on the edge” and down to your last dime and get the party invite. How can you conquer Guilt Squared and regret the direct marketing party with pride and with respect to your friend/cousin/co-worker hostess? Stick with the theme. Be direct. Maybe say:

You are serving alcohol and I’m only three weeks out of rehab.

My boobs are too big for those blouses.

My butt is too big for those skirts.

I have edema. Can’t wear boots.

I’m not smart enough to figure out how to complete your order form.

My husband is a tightwad.

[Child’s name] has basketball/baseball/football/ballet/guitar/unicycle practice.

My mother-in-law buys all my children’s clothes.

I’m allergic to latex.


~ ~ ~

I have deduced the ultimate, sweetest, most considerate, tricking-of-the-Tall Child solution to the problematic Trifecta and Guilt Squared: I buy all my Christmas presents at these parties!

I shop efficiently and guilt-free. I support my friends. And, I score some high-quality loot for my family. One day, when (not if) the zombie apocalypse finally happens, you’ll all thank me for those Pampered Chef pizza cutters.


Bring it on.
You are no match for this shopper!



Why don’t men shop in little parties? Couldn’t they all drink beer and watch a friend do a grill set demonstration? Maybe they could cook nachos in rubber dishes and try on different designs of belts. Don’t they ever feel guilty? Even at Christmas time? Which brings me to Theory26: In the Christmas season, men just need to do what they are told.

See you next post! Until then, think outside the barn.

Also, visit Amazon.com or my website to read about my book, The Eye of Adoption, my short story, Field Day, and my collection of essays for parents and teachers, Parents, Stop and Think.

Author website: www.jodydyer.com

Let's talk! Find me and friend me!




Facebook: Theories: Size 12 (See each post, comment, share, and talk directly with others readers and me!) I'd LOVE to hear your theories!
Twitter: @jodycdyer
Author website: www.jodydyer.com
Buy The Eye of Adoption here: Amazon.com





Thursday, December 5, 2013

Theory 24: Teachers are money hustlers, ya'll.

Reader friends, I have really missed my weekly exercise in sarcasm (it’s the only exercise I do). To all of ya’ll who read and shared the first five chapters of The Eye of Adoption (my blog posts in November—National Adoption Awareness Month), I shout out a huge THANK YOU!!! I took a risk there, but it paid off. New readers, particularly waiting mothers, found The Eye of Adoption and found a new friend—me—on every page. Ya’ll would not believe the stories I hear from families battling infertility or riding the complex currents of adoption. Those chapters will stay in the blog archive and are also on The Eye of Adoption Facebook page in the notes section. Share at will.

If I were independently wealthy, I’d write a separate blog (maybe even a book) detailing the incredible stories I hear from waiting and adoptive mothers. But, I need insurance and a paycheck, so, for now, I’ll just post our Friday laughs to this blog, write my little “Stop and Think” article for the local Hibu magazines, guest post for other bloggers, and market the heck out of The Eye of Adoption.



Working girl

I am a middle aged, mid-sized woman going through the daily grind in a middle income and wonderful teaching job. I’ve always been an overachiever and pretty ambitious. Heck, I get up at 5:00 am to write. Hmmm, I don’t have time to exercise, but I make time to write. My rear end definitely shows my preference. Tall Child thinks I’m nuts but, between you and me, he spends more time on Sunday battling my cousins and friends in Fantasy Football than I do writing all week. I guess our gambles are similar. He hopes to win the pot. I hope to sell more books. By the way, this blog will morph into a book and I want YOUR theories! Mint Julep and Delicious have given me some stellar ideas. Y’all need to like Theories: Size 12 on Facebook so we can chat it up and you can be part of the Theories: Size 12 paperback and Kindle.

See how fluidly I “sold” my Facebook page? I just mentioned the book four times and Facebook 4 times. See how I am warming you up to one day purchase ten copies of Theories: Size 12? Did you know Kindle sells the Theories: Size 12 blog now for only $.99 a month? Smooth.

In Theory 23: God and prayer are most definitely in schools, I wrote of my first year teaching in an urban school. I couldn’t pronounce some of the students’ names (the school is an English as a Second Language hub and quite diverse), so I nicknamed them based on behavior. One day, it dawned on me that fast typists could make some cash tapping out other kids’ papers. I said so aloud, and my student named “Always Stands” shouted, “Mrs. D, you a hustler. You always tryin’ to make money.”

I replied, “Well, Always Stands, I paid $1800 in daycare before I got my first teacher paycheck for Knox County, which was $1900. So, yes, I have to hustle.” I told my affluent friend OMGG the sum of that first paycheck and she laughed the mascara right off her face. Honestly, Tennessee isn’t exactly known for its high-paying teaching jobs. Most of us love teaching, but we also seek financial security, so, we hustle.

One of my colleagues said just last week, "I think I've designed an app that I can retire on."

I’m tossing out only a few adventures in money-making my teacher relatives, friends, and I have attempted. I labeled each with cautionary headings in the vein of Theory 3: You should be nice to everyone you meet, because you will meet again, especially if you were not nice in the first place.

Fellow educators, I hope you like your nicknames, and I hope you’ll share these anecdotes with students (after semester exams, of course) and save us some summer stress.


Cautionary Tales:

Finish your homework for English class. Your teacher may stir your green beans this summer.
Teachers know concessions stands, so transition to restaurant work is natural. Plus, living in a series of tourist towns that lay a path to The Great Smoky Mountains gave my teachers ample hustling opportunities. Delicious, Mooch, Big Booty J, Moon, Baby, and others tossed salads and dished desserts to nine million tourists gobbling their ways through Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. Delicious and BBJ made appearances at Hobie’s, Howard’s, The Green Valley Restaurant, and Applewood. I don’t know many Gatlinburg teachers who didn’t serve a tour at The Heidelberg Restaurant at Ober Gatlinburg (where the Tram lands). Even the grammar school music teacher, “The Instrumentalist,” donned lederhosen and played brass and percussion for the Oompah Pa Band. Gatlinburg-Pittman Highlander teachers quickly shed their kilts to make some German dough.

See Theory 7: Everyone should work in a restaurant (Part 1, Part 2) for more entertaining and embarrassing adventures in food service.

Once, in the teachers’ lounge at Gatlinburg-Pittman, a then chunky Delicious joked, “I am sick of waiting tables. I may try prostitution this summer.” Her co-worker “╬ár2” asked, “Are you going to charge by the pound?”

Don’t eat the yellow snow cones if you smarted off in history class.
Handsome teacher “Magnum P.I.” chipped and flavored ice for hot tourists on Gatlinburg’s main strip. Our Honors Typing (that’s what we called it) teacher “Goose” powdered greasy funnel cakes in his own booth just a few yards away.

Late for practice? That may cost you extra at the baseball card show!
Magnum P.I. also hosted the occasional baseball card trading show in a borrowed hotel conference room – usually the Howard Johnson. Cousin Roscoe (son of BBJ) and friends (then ages 12-14) helped him out. Once, Roscoe begged me, “Bug, give me just one of your summer paychecks and I’ll double it at the baseball card show this weekend.” Hustlers beget hustlers, ya’ll. FYI – Don’t have a car wash at the top of a mountain. Hustle smart.

Teachers get physical in the summer.
“Mystery Coach” loaded—hand-under-hiney style—tourists into sight-seeing helicopters.

Grammarians with gusto make Great Tour Guides – Tell Your Granny!
Teacher “Tush” owned the microphone when she hopped on crowded tour busses as they cruised into the Smith Family Theater parking lot in Pigeon Forge. By the way, Smith Family Theater entertainers are former teachers. My cousins. Mentioned elsewhere in this blog. They really don’t want to go back to teaching, so please see their show when you visit The Smokies. Best Show in The Smokies for years running—as determined by The Mountain Press readers! Hustlers hustle for other hustlers, ya’ll.

Want extra credit? Bring your married aunt and uncle who make a combined income over $60,000 and have decent credit to Coach Bama’s timeshare booth!
Timeshare booths perch at busy spots along the PF and G-burg drags. Calm, sweet, honest Coach Bama raked in a few good sales before he had to start basketball camps. Camps. Consider these the super hustle. Coaches spend entire weekends managing schedules, phone calls, disputes, money, and snacks. Exhausting. I tried it.

Students' parents: Support your teacher friends when they hustle. They will return the favors!
I held a “Jody Camp” a few summers ago. I toted and hollered at 5 campers for 5 days. Sharky, Gnome, “Brother,” “Boyfriend,” and “Angel #3” picked blackberries, swam, played monopoly, and cruised the farm. I scored a little cash but a priceless week with my friends’ children. That was some of the hardest money and those are some of the funniest memories I’ve ever made. “Brother” (who was my oldest camper at age 12), later used me as a reference to apply for a camp counselor job. My recommendation surely sealed his young hustler deal!

Prefer a sanitized inner tube for the lazy river? Get your pronouns straight.
Teacher “Wild Onion” expertly doled out tubes to SPF’d tourists at a local water park. Meanwhile, just across the cement pond, sweet science teacher “Daisy” served up nachos and fountain drinks.

Practice your clarinet like a good geek because your band director may soon be your boss, or worse, your employee.
As a teen worker at The Track, I handed out skee-ball prizes to indecisive goobers. I rescued fat tourists with no hand-eye coordination as they frantically circle spun strained rubber boats in the center of bumper boat pools. I handed out golf clubs and neon balls in the putt-putt booth. I labored under the watchful eye of my high school band director, “Music Man.” Music Man moved up the management ladder quickly. Track owners trusted teachers to separate scraped up tourists from go-cart asphalt and serve concessions. Teachers are used to saying “Wash your hands,” “Wait your turn,” and “Do the math” (mini theory: people can’t count once they leave home). But teachers who applied took the risk of being managed by a former student. That’s just a gamble teachers take.

Don’t underestimate your teachers. They are trained researchers and industrious risk-takers.
Delicious and I made a gamble once. We bet on Mother Nature’s bounty on The Crippled Beagle Farm. We heard that one of my elementary teachers—let’s call her “Ginseng Guru”—was digging and selling ginseng for over $1,000 a dried pound. We freaked; $1,000 is serious money. With student loan and medical debts out the yin-yang, Delicious and I were gonna dig out of the recession with some Crippled Beagle ginseng! We made a plan. I scoured the internet and learned to locate ginseng using companion plants, to dig only plants with three or more prongs and five years of maturity. I knew how to dry and sell the roots and even lined up two buyers. I watched videos and printed pictures. We set a digging date. Obviously, plants are easier to find in the spring. But we were fired up, so we started our hunt on a cold, wet, January Saturday. We wore old farm clothes and carried grocery sacks and different size shovels. Delicious did no research, so when I told her ginseng grows on steep hills, she choose to support me from below. Delicious poked her walking stick through mud and black walnuts behind the barn and made a verbal shopping list while I climbed, slid, and cussed. My miserable hunt lasted 90 minutes and resulted in three plants. I think that, with my misted hair, aching knees, and desperation for easy money, I saw mirages in the undergrowth. I dug some kind of ginseng fool’s gold green stuff. Now, listen, poaching is a big issue for ginseng farmers, so let me make this clear. No hunting is allowed on The Crippled Beagle Farm. Ever. For critters or roots. Plus, if there were Ginseng on my farm, I’d wouldn’t be hustling so hard at school teaching, now, would I?


 Thar's gold in them thar hills!


One of Knoxville's greatest ladies—"Downtown Queen"—taught PE for many years. She once confessed to me, “I was so happy when I retired from teaching so I didn’t have to buy any more junk from my colleagues! If other teachers are so broke they have to sell stuff, what makes them think their teacher friends can afford to buy it? Every time I went in the teacher’s lounge there was some product or some catalog laid out by the microwave.” They were hustling, my Queen. Which brings me to Theory 25: Dang you Tupperware ladies, dang you. But I do love your products.

See you next Friday! Until then, think outside the barn.

Also, visit Amazon.com or my website to read about my book, The Eye of Adoption, my short story, Field Day, and my collection of essays for parents and teachers, Parents, Stop and Think.

Author website: www.jodydyer.com

 
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