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I Love Teaching Teenagers (I really do!)

Short Story #1 My First High School Food Fight

As a teacher, you hear the stories, you remember your time in the cafeteria, you talk ahead of time with your fellow teachers, sure, but it never really prepares you for your first time.

Well, here is my story:

Wait, one more statement in defense: I do remember somewhere in my mind thinking, why are all of us moving to help this one kid?

It was spaghetti day, back before Mrs. Obama's "healthy schools initiative;" meaning servings, and therefore sugar levels, we're at an all-time high. I'm just going to do a rough estimate from memory that there were about 200 kids in the cafeteria that day. I was still in my first three years of teaching, but I knew enough to know the feeling that something was up. You know what I mean, that tension in the air you can't explain but you look inexplicably around for two people squaring off for a fight? I looked around, trying to be as a local sheriff with my best poker face, while wondering, in all truth, did I remember to wear my antiperspirant that day? As my adrenaline continued to run, I wished the clock would move forward and the bell would ring soon.

Look, weren't stupid or lazy teachers; we had moved away from the natural clump of protection that we wanted to form, the Avengers standing back to back ready for anything. We were standing at different points in the cafeteria, trying to be mindful and ready. Yet this one kid, we'll call him Ferris, was "sent in" to distract all three of us. Ferris was an attractive kid with a friendly smile, passing each of us with a charismatic, good-natured grin. Moving to return his tray he fell to his knee, grabbing and gasping in pain. Our compassion triggered immediately, we all moved toward him in care and concern. When my "spidey" sense went to red alert, I glanced up and over to the left to see a fair-haired, skinny, petulant child, flipping with two hands raised to his chest, a full tray of sticky, icky, clumpy school spaghetti with tons of greasy, bright red tomato sauce. As soon as the food released into the air and scattered all over, right on cue, numerous trays were flipped in response. I swear to you, I ducked down and turned just in time to see at least one spaghetti mixture fly over my head.

When the dust cleared, and the last piece of spaghetti fell from the ceiling; of course, there was an uproar. Students scattered, some screeched in dread, while others laughed at the hysteria and aftermath. Although I knew I was a food target, and God knows, I may be the queen of klutziness but, in this case, I had the moves of Jackie Chan because I was one of the few "unsullied."

Actually, I have always had freakishly lucky instincts, Even now I realize I never forget that kid's face who started it all, along with his table of boys acting like human trebuchets. I have seen some nasty things in my life, so this wasn't incredibly bad by a long shot, but I knew our custodial staff worked too damn hard for any extra mess. As the eye witness I gave them the choice of cleanup or phone calls home. In the end, they had plenty of hands to help, including good old Ferris, the decoy.

Ferris was very helpful and friendly as he cleaned, and to no one's surprise, his knee was perfectly fine.

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