Sunday, September 30, 2007

My Newest Complex

As if I needed anything else to worry about, a troubling development has occurred at work. On the first day of school, a man from the Board of Ed who was helping with our Impact attendance software referred to me as "Sir." I told him I was in fact a "ma'am," which really offended him. He kept insisting that he had not called me sir, even though a coworker of mine was right there and heard him.

I told him it was no big deal and he probably just glanced at my pixie haircut so no harm done. But now every time I see him he calls me "ma'am" in a super exaggerated fashion. The funny part is that he has really long dreads -- I could have easily made the same mistake. He's really defensive, though, so I doubt he'd find the humor.

I was telling this story to a couple of my coworkers, one of whom is my friend Olga. So last week she comes up to me and says she has a funny story to tell me. That one of her students said she couldn't tell if I was a man or a woman. I'm not sure what makes that a funny story. Olga told her that I was a woman, so as to not get any rumors started to the contrary. Then she told me to grow my hair out. Thanks, Olga. We'll call that strike two.

By now I'm starting to think that perhaps I could put a bit more effort into my school appearance. My school is hot and filthy, so I never think it's worth working too hard to look cute. But maybe I could wear a bit more lipstick, wear sneakers less often.

Strike three occurred later that same day. I was out in the hall between classes, ostensibly to help "clear the halls," which is a joke, since there are about 300 kids in the hallway at any given time and when I yell "go to class!" I usually get called a bad name. But I pretend to do it, so I won't get yelled at by administration.

At any rate, one of my kids from last year, Jose, sees me and says hello. I love Jose, because he is the only punk rock kid I've had ever. So we spent a lot of time last year discussing music and shows and it was a nice change for me. He's a sweet kid. He's also one of the only non-black kids at my school. I always wonder how that is for him.

He looks at my outfit and says, "Mrs. Fuji! I want your shorts! Where did you get them???" I was wearing plaid shorts, but they are long and I thought I could get away with calling them capris. I was wearing them with a t-shirt with our mascot on it and a pair of sneakers. I probably did look like a 14 year old boy. I said, "Jose, these are girl shorts." He looked totally crestfallen. Apparently he has been looking for some plaid shorts for awhile.

After that experience, I think perhaps I should start trying a little harder. I had already decided to grow my hair out. Which will mean my hair will be in an awkward in-between phase for months and months. That will be awesome! And I'll start wearing more lipstick. I shouldn't care, but I don't want dumb kids thinking I'm a man. Or anyone thinking I'm a man, for that matter. This gives me something to focus on other than the fact that my kids are super annoying and can't follow directions and are driving me crazy.

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