Archive | 10:44 pm

Field Trip With the Kids

28 May

“Is everyone here?” Ms. Rodriguez asks the 10th grade class, who have gathered at the bus stop outside Fredricks High School.

Her question is met with scattered nods and murmurs of affirmation.

“Okay, I’m going to start calling role. Once I say your name, you can get on the bus. Erick Ab–” The name is cut off, though, as a black Honda Civic careens over a curb across the parking lot and peels around a turn, screeching and throwing white smoke into the air. It barrels toward the assembled students and slams on its brakes mere inches from the bus. Disheveled, sweaty, and smelling strangely of bar-b-que sauce and sex, I stagger out of the vehicle.

“Don’t leave! I’m here! I’m here!” I say, catching my breath. Ms. Rodriguez seems at the same time disappointed, agitated, and afraid. She’s pretty much got all the bad emotions all over her face. I lick my thumb and try to wipe them off. She swats my hand away.

“Please stand with the other tutors, Kyle. I’m calling role.” I begin to make my way through the crowd of students.

She calls role and one by one the students pile onto the bus.

“Did you bring anything to do on the bus?” Will, another tutor, asks Mort, another tutor.

“I brought my iPod and my PSP, what’d you bring?”

“My phone is really all I need. It has the internet and stuff, so I think I’ll be okay. Did you bring anything, Kyle?”

“Twister,” I say, holding up a battered Twister box. “It’s missing the mat, though, so we’ll just have to put our hands wherever.” I wink suggestively at Mort and nod toward the small group of female tutors. Mort grimaces and turns away. I put the game in the trash can and board the bus.

I sit next to a tiny brown woman named Crystal. She’s so short, that when I sit down, at first I don’t see her there.

“Hi, Kyle!” she says, startling me.

“JESUS A BUS GHOST!” I scream, turning toward her, hands raised in defense. After a moment of recognition, I lower my hands. “Hey, Crystal. I didn’t see you there. You’re very small.”

“I know, Kyle. You smell like something my mom would want me to leave outside.”

“I know, Crystal.” We both turn to face forward in an amicable silence.

I had to wake up for the field trip at 5:30 am, so, in the name of survival, I drank two cups of coffee on the drive to the high school. An hour later, within my bladder, there is much screaming and gnashing of teeth. Chaos.

Hell doesn't look so bad. There's kissing!

Oh, what was I thinking? TWO CUPS OF COFFEE BEFORE A THREE HOUR BUS RIDE?! I fear I have flown much too close to the sun.

A sweat breaks across my hair line and between my shoulder blades.

“Can you uh…” I begin to ask Crystal, but, embarrassed, I turn away, leaving my request unfinished (I was going to ask if I could pee in her purse).

I clinch my wee wee. The dam has reached critical mass. A student calls to me.

“Yes?” I respond, my voice quivering just slightly. It is Pilar, a somewhat surly but lovable girl who kind of reminds me of a younger, more Hispanic Rosanne.

“You want to know what I did last weekend?” A mischievous smile creeps across her face. I absolutely do not want to know what she did last weekend.

“Sure, what did you do last weekend?” NOOOOO! Now invested in the conversation, I must turn and pay attention and even respond, all the while fighting the fight of my life in my Jesus-frowny places. To wet myself on a bus full of sixteen year-olds would be the death of me. Never would I forget. Never would they forget. For me, the world would become a bleak, tearful trap of endless jeers and unoccupied seats adjacent to my own.

“Well, me an’ my frien’, we…” It’s all turned to audible mush now. All of my strength is focused on not pissing the shit out of myself. [Editor’s Note: Surely you see the problem with that statement. Right?]

In time, we reach our oasis: an Exxon gas station with a fully-functional restroom, capable of catching not only my pee, but my poop as well–but I don’t poop in public restrooms. It’s a personal policy. I don’t want to get pregnant from a toilet seat.

I use the restroom. It is pure bliss.

The rest of the trip merits little mention, as I spent almost the entirety of the two-hour trip talking about LOST with Mort.

We reach the school, Sam Houston State University, and slowly file out. I want to be carried out by the students, held high above their heads in a kind of memorial, but when I ask for this, I’m mostly ignored. I garner two dozen dirty looks and one half dozen Spanish cuss words. I shed a baker’s dozen tears in the back of the bus before leaving.

The group is herded to the visitor’s center at SHSU. As seems the case with much of the campus, the building is surrounded by trees and white people. Once inside the center, we watch a brief video and are broken up into two groups for the tour. The two tour guides are of varying degrees of attractiveness. One is attractive and the other one is not. Since God and fate hate me, I end up with the one who is not attractive. I later reflect that she would have been quite pretty if it wasn’t for her below-average face and body and hair.

“All right, everybody, welcome to the fun group!” our guide declares, to scattered laughter. God damn it, I thought. Just enough laughter to encourage her to keep joking. I want to finish the tour as quickly as possible in order to get to Golden Corral and abuse myself. I want some dinner rolls. I want some mac ‘n cheese. I want some punishment.

Our tour group approaches a large, glass and concrete building and stops.

“This is our library,” the tour guide explains. “It’s four stories high and each story is an acre.”

“Excuse me, ma’am?” I raise my hand. “But with all due respect, I got an English degree, and I can safely say that every story is a world unto itself and that you can’t possibly measure it in terms of,” I snicker a bit, “Acres.

“I’m talking about the literal size of the library. Like, floor space.” No one speaks for several seconds. A few birds chirp in the distance but, besides that, we are surrounded in crushing silence.

“Well. I have an English degree, still.” I shift my weight from my left to right foot and look at the ground.

“I doubt even that,” she responds. My testicles tuck themselves neatly into my lower abdomen, afraid.

“Anyway,” she continues, “so in all that space, how many books do you guys think we have?”

“Thirteen thousand,” Roberto says.

“Thirteen thousand? Nope. Come on guys,” the tour guide responds.

“Two hundred thousand,” Sandra says.


I step forward, determined to redeem myself. “Thirteen!” I declare.

“What?” she sighs, still looking at me. “Why? Why are y– No. No there are many, many more than thirteen books in the library.”

I look at the library and, almost to myself, say “Man, there’s just no way you’re fittin’ more than thirteen books in there.”

“You don’t believe me?” she asks, her voice slightly raised.

“Tell you what. You bring me fourteen books, and I’ll buy it. Deal?”

The students’ eyes dart from the tour guide to me, then back to the tour guide. Ms. Rodriguez is several paces a way, smoking a cigarette and taking several noticeable sips from a flask she’s kept in her purse.

“Deal.” The tour guide walks quickly to the library entrance.

“Let’s go,” I say to the kids as soon as she’s out of earshot. I motion with my hand and begin walking toward the gift shop. All the kids follow. “You know what, guys?” I ask, stopping. “I think there’s something much better we could do. Something much more worthwhile.” I cross my arms, smiling broadly. “Who wants to push a statue over?” I ask. Cheers and adulation.

Sorry, Statue Sam Houston. Your ass is grass.

The End.

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