Jerry Versus The Pencil Sharpener

Public Enemy #1
Public Enemy #1

Jerry’s body language told me that he was bored.  Heck, I was bored.  Unlike him, who had his face planted on the top of his desk and was probably taking a nap, I was at the front of the class reviewing the syllabus and classroom procedures.  I wanted to take a nap, too.

“This is the in-box– turn your work in here.  This is the out-box– once your work is corrected, it’ll be here.  This is my desk.  Don’t touch it,” I explained as I made my way to the pencil sharpener, “And this is the pencil sharpener.  If you need your pencil sharpened, ask me to do it.  It doesn’t like students.”

Jerry lifted his head sharply, giving me a look that clearly said, “What the hell?!”.  Ah, he was paying attention.

The pencil sharpener is a run-of-the-mill shiny silver dial-a-hole, crank-handle model mounted to the side of a cupboard.  There’s nothing that separates it from the hordes of sharpeners the world over, except that the user has to earn its respect.  For the last six years it has taken fiendish delight breaking, eating, or just flat refusing to sharpen my students’ pencils.  It can turn a brand new Ticonderoga into a stub in no time flat.  Students, who have learned their lessons the hard way, just give me their pencils and watch in awe as I return it to them sharp and gleaming.

One day as we worked on imagery and figurative language posters, Jerry brought me an orange colored pencil and asked if I’d sharpen it.  He watched me closely as I inserted the pencil, cranked the handle, and returned it to him.  As far as he could tell, I used the sharpener the exact same way he was taught how to use it way back in kindergarten.  He looked at the sharpener.  He looked at me.

“I can do this.  I can use this sharpener!” he exclaimed.

“Oh really?,” I retorted, smiling at him, “You want to take on the pencil sharpener?”

He nodded his head, “Yeah.  There’s nothing special about this.”

“Go for it,” I challenged.

He marched back to his group and grabbed two more pencils and marched back.

“Now watch this,” he said as he thrust the first one in, cranked, and pulled it out.  The pencil emerged, its round wooden tip formed a cave around where the lead should have been. “What the…?!”

I grinned up at him as I took the pencil out of his hand and expertly returned it to him healthy and whole, “As I said.  It doesn’t like students.”

Jerry gave me a look meant to wither me.  This had escalated from a mild skirmish to an all out war.  Nothing was going to get the best of him– especially not his pipsqueak of an English teacher and her demonic pencil sharpener.  And especially not in front of the entire class whose attention was now directed at this heated battle.

“Move aside,” he commanded as he tested his abilities on his second pencil.  He again cranked the handle.  A hollow sound emanated from the sharpener’s belly. “What!  It’s broken now!  It’s not even sharpening!”  He cranked some more.  It was clear the grinders hadn’t caught the pencil.  The class tittered.

“It can’t be broken. I just used it,” I replied as I took over.  It worked and sharpened the pencil.

He was stunned and visibly frustrated as the class laughed.  “Look,” he said as he glared down at me, “you’re crazy.  Your pencil sharpener’s crazy.  This is crazy.”

He marched back to his seat, plopped down, and crossed his arms.  He shook his head at me as I grinned and pet the pencil sharpener.

A couple of minutes passed.  He grabbed a yellow pencil and made his way toward me.  One of his classmates alerted everyone, “Look!  He’s going back!”

He stared down at me, rolling the pencil in between his fingers. “I’m going to do it, Ms. L. I’m going to sharpen this pencil.”

“By all means, please do,” I responded.

Shaking out his shoulders, he squared up to the sharpener.  He gave me nod; the class looked on in anticipation.  He placed the pencil inside, grabbed the handle, focused, and cranked quickly.  As if waiting for a sign, he suddenly stopped.  He pulled it out and there it was: just the curl of a wood shaving dangling from the pointy yellow tip.

He brought the top of the pencil up to his mouth like a tip of a gun and blew off the shaving. He smiled at me as the class burst into applause.

Slow Down, Casanova!

I think we can all agree that there is no such species quite as, well, unique, as the high school student.  Really, is there any being that can be so profound, yet so mystifying at the same time?  High school students teach us teachers a lot.  They teach us such edifying knowledge on how to use the computer, how to manipulate the thermostat, how to access pirated versions of The Dark Knight on the web (long story), and, most of all, how to dougie. Sometimes though, they go beyond the call of duty to teach you a lesson that transcends all others: how to woo your English teacher.

Wooing your English teacher takes a little more finesse than one might think.  It turns out that you can’t be like a besotted six-year old boy sitting next to his favorite camp counselor on the school bus and beam at her from departure to arrival.  Nor can you be like the college student visiting his instructor during office hours drenched in Drakkar Noir to describe how he lifted very heavy weights the night before.  No, these tactics won’t do.  Remember, these are devised by the teenage mind and are aimed at befuddling, bewildering, and beleaguering your beloved literature-lover and grammarian.

Now pay close attention to learn how you, too, can turn her heart away from the likes of Atticus Finch and Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy and make it your own.

Show Initiative: Even after you have disclosed your fear of public speaking to her, volunteer to present your project first.  She will remember you for your gallant and brave action.

Greet Her Everyday:  This is a very important step in making sure that she knows that you exist.

Say “Goodbye” To Her Everyday:  Just in case she didn’t notice you when you walked in the door to greet her, make a point to look her in the eye, and say goodbye.  If she’s trying to discuss an issue with another student, stand there, wait, and stare until she turns, looks at you, and says, “Do you have a question?”

Remind Her Of Your Outstanding Qualities: Your English teacher is most likely a very busy woman.  My, with all of those essays to read, lessons to plan, and lectures to write, she may become a little forgetful of the various ways that you have dazzled her in class.  Be sure to remind her, often, that you say “hi” and “bye” to her and that you courageously went first for the presentation– oh, and don’t forget the one time you passed out papers, too.

Render Her Speechless With Your Keen Observations Of Her Favorite Novel:  After you have read, discussed, written about, and  completed projects about your teacher’s absolute-most-favorite novel, ask her that one elusive question that has been burning in your brain, the mother of questions, the questions of all questions: “I don’t get it.  How could Darcy and Elizabeth love each other?  Like, they spend no time together.”  This will certainly stun her into silence as she stares at you in wide-eyed wonder.  She will for sure be brought out of this state of incredulity at your brilliance by another student who will revive her by suggesting, “Ignore him.  He’s a boy.  What does he know?”

Discuss Her All-Time Favorite Movie: 
Teachers like it when you go out of your way to learn about their interests or what’s going on in class.  Learn about the version of the film she plans to show in class and engage her in conversation like the following:

You: Are we watching the 2005 Keira Knightley version of Pride and Prejudice?

Teacher (smiling): Why, yes!  We are!

You: Yeah, I started watching it.

Teacher (interested in what you have to say): What did you think of it?

You: Yeah, I didn’t finish it.

Teacher: Why not?

You: It was boring. Yeah.

Trust me.  Follow this script and you will hit it out of the ball park.

Impress Her With Your Progressive Values And Gentlemanly Charm:  Make it a point to walk her to car on those days when you are leaving at the same time.  Take an interest in her outside life; ask her what she’s planning on doing that evening.  If she answers with some activity like “Write”, follow up with a question that values her interests, like, “Aren’t you going to make your husband dinner?”.  If she states that her husband is making dinner, wow her with your ideas of how you expect your wife to cook and clean so you will have to do nothing.

Show her that you are a teenage boy of your word.  When you see that she is carrying two heavy bags, offer to do nothing.

Always be a gentleman and escort her to her car– especially on the day when she’s carrying the two heavy bags, forgotten where she’s parked, and walked past it by forty feet.  At that point, let her know that her car is over there, behind her, and that you wondered why she walked right past it.  Your act of kindness will endear you to her greatly.

Last, But Not Least, Remind Her How Special She Is:  On the last day before break as everyone is scurrying out of the room, loudly proclaim, “Everyone else is not saying goodbye to you or wishing you a good break, but I am!”

There you have it: the sure-fire way to win your English teacher’s heart.  Sure, she may have an apple on her desk, but these strategies will make you the apple of her eye.

The English Teacher Gets New Glasses

The bearer of bad news came in the form of a teenage girl wearing a stained baggy hoodie, track pants, and socks with slide-on sandals.  I greeted her as she walked into class, and she paused as she noticed my glasses that I wore in lieu of my contacts.

“Whoa, I didn’t know you wore glasses, Ms. L!” She clucked her tongue and shook her head, “Man, those frames are DAY-ted.  You should get yourself chic new frames.  Be modern.”

I tried my best to not let my sarcasm come through as I thanked her for her completely unsolicited advice first thing in the morning.  The day of knowing that I wore frumpy, old-fashioned frames that the Tyrannosaurus Rex wore before he met his end loomed ahead.  “Could I make it through a day without seeing?” I wondered.  Everyone’s looks would improve.  If I could teach without my hearing aid, I could teach without my glasses…   The very same glasses I use to read my students’ lips.  Damn it.

My husband will tell you that I tend to hold onto things for a bit way too long.  In 2009 I finally replaced my sunglasses that I purchased in 1995 after someone asked, “Who do you think you are? John Lennon?”.  My search for a new pair was long and hard (I know Michael Scott, “that’s what she said”), and no sunglass display was left unturned.  It wasn’t until I made a “what-the-hell-why-not?” trip into a Honolulu Sunglass Hut that I found my new pair.  Yes, I plan to get another 11 years out of them.  In the meantime, I still wear the red sweatshirt I stole from Steve gave to me when we first started dating (also last century).  The collar and cuffs are beyond frayed and there are big, gaping holes along the seams, but it’s still the first one I go to.

Today was my annual eye exam, and I knew it was time to retire my old, not-quite silver, wire frames.  This pair was my second set of the same frames; the first set broke, and my ophthalmologist found the very last of pair available in the country to replace them.  These are special glasses.  I packed them into their case and took them with me.

Arriving early to my appointment, I used the extra time to survey the wall of bright, shiny, and “modern” frames.  Fred, the man in charge of the glasses, greeted me.  He looked dapper in his neatly pressed striped button down with his sleeves rolled up, his long silver hair pulled back into a pony-tail, and his frameless, sparkling spectacles perched casually on his nose.

“Can I help you find a certain pair?” he asked.

Overwhelmed and not quite sure what I was looking for, I responded, “No, I’m just trying to find a pair that won’t make me look completely like an English teacher.”

He raised an eyebrow, “Why not?  The kinky look is in right now.”

My reflection caught my attention in the mirror and shot me a look that said, “Oh God, he did not just say that.”  We appraised each other’s looks: wash-n-go hair that said “go” more than wash, minimal make-up, brown sunglasses, a shapeless brown polo atop a shapeless brown skirt,  chewed fingernails, farmer-tanned legs in need of shaving, brown flip-flops on feet with unpainted toes, and one inner ankle that sported a freshly opened blister.  This added up to kinky, how?  Not to mention the fact that I now work in a kinky profession?  It’s sentence diagramming, not diaphragming.

Wait… do I need kinky glasses if I teach Like Water For Chocolate?  Gertrudis does mount that horse and the soldier riding it.  Othello?  “An old-black ram is tupping your white ewe”?  “Making the beast with two backs”?  Breathing deeply and channeling Regency England, Mr. Darcy, and Elizabeth Bennet (never mind Lydia and Wickham’s illicit elopement or the fact that Jane and Bingley go off alone into the bushes– who’s tupping who?), I reminded myself that I am not Tina Fey sexy-cool and finally chose a small brown, tortoise-shell frame.  They would match anything and last me a decade.

I put them on and showed Fred.  He appraised them shrugging his shoulders, “Eh.”

Eh?  Now I really didn’t care what Fred said.

“Let me see if I can adjust those,” and he took the frames, returning quite a few minutes later smelling of orange chicken.  I put them on again, and they did fit much better.  Fred and I entered a conversation about people who have more than one pair of sunglasses; one woman I know has a pair to match every outfit.

“Some women have priorities,” replied Fred, “For some women it’s sunglasses, others it’s shoes, and some collect purses.”  Hm.  No, no, and no.  Was Fred insinuating that I lack priorities?  Did he think I needed to unleash my inner-Carrie Bradshaw?  And I had to wonder, when it comes to shopping for glasses that really define us, how do we really see ourselves?

Fred painted a clear picture of what he saw.  “These frames don’t really stand out. They just blend in.”

I leaned over the table that separated us and stage-whispered, “Sometimes I must travel incognito.”

“I-Spy, huh?” he chuckled as he wrote up my order.

Yes, oh yes, Fred.  I spy a blog entry, and I will unleash my inner-Carrie Bradshaw– the one that writes.

The Punctuation Dating Guide: What You Need To Know

Chapter 12:

Using Puctuation To Define Relationships

As we have learned from previous chapters, the only way to be successful sentence is to be an independent clauseand have the ability to stand on your own.  You have your syntactical parts in order with your subject, verb, and complete idea.  Now that you are healthy and whole, you can choose to rock your independent self or make connections with other clauses.

Hooking up with other sentences is tricky business.  You can easily land in messy territory not knowing if you’re friends, friends with potential, actually an item, or fear of all fears, finding yourself in that relationship with no boundaries and no one can tell where you end and the other begins. Not every sentence is the same, so you can’t use the same punctuation with each. Let’s take a look at the different punctuation and see how you can use them to define your relationships.

The Period: This is the most common type of relationship, and therefore the one you will use the most.  Most other sentences are going to just be friends and acquaintances.  There’s no need to hook up, and the period says “I am me and you are you”.  You remain single, but value what others have to offer.

The Semi-Colon:  The semi-colon is reserved for friends with potential.  This is for when being separated by a dot and two spaces is not enough, because you have found another independent clause that you connect with.  You share the same ideas.  The other completes or elaborates on your thoughts.  It’s wonderful and magical to have found someone who has the same interests you do.  However, the semi-colon is for special relationships only.

It’s easy to get confused and muddled with the semi-colon, especially on those nights when you wear the grammar goggles, think everyone is special, and want to insert your semi-colon into each and every clause, phrase, and word.  This is the quickest way to develop a reeputation you do not want.  Be mindful of whom you give your semi-colon.  Remember, practice safe syntax and when in doubt, leave it out!

The Conjunction: This is the ultimate conjugal hook-up. You have scrapped the period and semi-colon and have said, “We belong together!”  But before you get too excited at finding your soul mate, the conjunction helps you determine what kind of relationship you have: not all marriages are the same.  Sure you may always agree, and for you, the comma + and is perfect.  Some relationships aren’t as happy, nor do they agree on everything.  They may not agree on everything, but they will try to see eye to eye.  They learn to live with it, or they don’t.  They can always go back to the period.   Mostly they try to work things out, for they don’t want to break up.  If you can learn from their examples, then you’re ready to take your ready to take your relationship to the next level, or if you can’t, stay with the period. Entering a new relationship is thrilling, yet you have to know where you stand.  These are the rules for how punctuation can define your relationships, so there you have it!

Unhealthy Relationships 

Sometimes we end up in unhealthy, toxic relationships.  One defining feature of unhealthy relationships is the lack of boundaries.  They are either unclear or nonexistent.  These relationships challenge meaning and leave everyone baffled.  There are two types of punctuation-gone-bad scenarios that you want to avoid.

The Comma Splice:  This is an example of unclear boundaries.  This is when you are connected to another sentence using a comma.  This puts the comma in an awkward position, because it’s not its job to connect you.  If the comma is followed by a conjunction, then it’s happy to connect you; you’re relationship is clearly defined.  Without the conjunction, it means that you really don’t know what your connection is.  In the meantime, you are confusing everyone around you.  It’s best to ditch the comma and move onto the period until you have things worked out.

The Run-On: This is the biggest relationship mess of all.  There are no clear boundaries, and you have lost all sense of self.  It is not clear where you end and the other begins.  What’s worse is that you go on and on.  When will it ever end?  Once you start a run-on relationship, you begin to pull in innocent independent clauses who don’t want anything to do with your mess.  Please step back, find yourself, and determine some boundaries.   It is best to just use a period until you can get a grasp on healthy relationships.

Following these rules will guarantee happy and fulfilling syntax, and isn’t that what we all want?

Stay tuned for the next chapter: Dependent Clauses and Why They Can Never Be Alone.

Reno: It Has A Great Bowling Alley

It was pretty embarrassing really, but now that I’ve been there, eh, not so much. What was I embarrassed about?  I’ve lived two and a half hours away from Reno for the last 14 years and had never been there.  I felt like I was missing out on something, like, you know, The Biggest Little City in the World.  Really, how could I have not been there?  I’ve been to Topeka for crying out loud.

It’s pretty windy, too.

So when my mom got invited to play in a bowling tournament there, she and my dad invited me along for the ride, and I jumped at the chance. (Hubby was invited, too, but he had to work.)  Reno is snuggled into the eastern side of the Sierras, a place of remarkable beauty: rugged mountains and high desert plains topped with an enormous blue sky.  Then there’s downtown Reno, a blot on the scenery with a pawn shop on every corner.  Trash lined the streets as well as people who you don’t even want to walk by in the bright light of day.

Plenty of opportunities to sell your stuff to feed the one-armed-bandit.

To make up for the seediness of the outside is the trifecta of the Silver Legacy, Circus Circus, and the El Dorado.  They, too, are embarrassed by their hood and have created pathways that connect each building, so their guests never have to step foot outdoors.  Even their parking garage on the next block is part of this circuitry.   We stayed at the Silver Legacy, a really nice and well-maintained resort and casino.

The Silver Legacy’s lobby.

To further erase what we might have seen outside, the Silver Legacy distributes free and unending little plastic flutes of champagne.  They have their own winery and make all of the wine for the casino.  The champagne-meister, a wonderful man named Gregorio, plied me with more and more champagne.  He was my new BFF.

Red Vines make excellent straws for champagne. “Oh, Gregorio-oh!”

While my mom had to get some bowling stuff taken care of, my dad and I hit the casinos.

Ooh! All sevens!
Happy Dad!
Will I win “Big”?
Not quite big money!

Gambling (or losing) makes one hungry.  We had quesadillas and crispy onion rings here:

Good food and good service.  I don’t know those guys, even though the guy in the blue shirt looks        happy to be in my picture.

Then it was off to my mom’s bowling tournament.  The bowling alley is huge, and is revered by bowlers because “everything works!”  Teams from all over the U.S. were here, including a team from North Pole, Alaska.  My mom’s team was slotted to begin at 9 p.m., but the tournament was running 30 minutes behind.  She had to play six games, so you can imagine how long we were there (until 1:17 in the morning if you must know).  My dad chatted it up with his buddies, and I napped and drank bloody mary mix (sans vodka– tapped out from champagne– there is too much of a good thing).

My mom (on right) with her bowling partner.
78 lanes of bowling.  Pretty snazzy.

Everything looks better in the dark.

While I was really underwhelmed by Reno (it may have been better had I had the chance to see other parts of the city or had more champagne), we had a really fun time.   It was great to hang out with my parents, see my mom bowl, and gamble with my dad.  And as my mom said, “You crossed that off your bucket list.  Now you never have to go back again.”

It’s not often we get to take a family photo.

The Hulk Gets A Haircut

Communication skills come in handy. Especially at the doctor’s office, the tattoo parlor, and the hairstylist’s. The hair salon I go to is great: it’s affordable, five minutes from my house, and I always get the haircut I want. It’s run by a trio of Vietnamese women, but nothing gets lost in translation– we all understand the importance of a good hairstyle. But every now and then something gets lost in assumptions.

Recently they’ve added a couple of guys to their staff. The last time I was there, Steve, the hair-cut wonder god, spent over an hour shaping, layering, trimming my hair. Not only did he give me a great cut that framed my face and gave me confidence, he gave me the best gift ever: a true wash-n-go style. I haven’t used a blow-dryer in months. And he only charged me $15.00.

Noticing that I could put my hair in a tiny ponytail, I figured it was time go back. This time Steve wasn’t there, but Kevin was. Kevin, I discovered, also responded to Nervous Nelly. Nervous Nelly made me nervous, too, as he grinned widely at me and tried to stuff my purse into a too-small bin. “No, it’s not going to fit,” I said. He nodded as he tried to jam it in. After a few more shoves, he gave up. “It won’t fit,” he resigned. I nodded. This didn’t bode well.

After patting me up into the chair and draping the cover over my shoulders, we discussed my hair. From my view point I thought things were pretty clear: I wanted the same style I had with the same layers but one inch shorter all the way around. He nodded, “I got it. I got it.” Then he proceeded to graze the scissors at the ends of my hair, creating a fine mist of hair dust. “Is this what you want?” he inquired. I repeated my request, this time adding that I had an A-line cut, just in case he hadn’t noticed. He frowned. “No, no. You want one inch off and an A-line? Can’t be done.”

I took a couple of deep breaths and told myself to stay calm: he had the scissors, I didn’t. The next couple of minutes were spent with me explaining to him what an A-line cut is and how it was possible to have one and still cut off one inch. “No, no, no,” he kept replying. My Bruce Banner cool was swiftly leaving me and I could feel myself beginning to Hulk out. “Be nice. Be nice. Be nice,” I repeated to myself, “Don’t be mean.” But my skin glowed green as I called over another stylist to intervene.

He immediately began telling her what I wanted and none of it made sense. Muscles ripping through my shirt, I snapped, “Let me tell her. It’s my hair!”. I told her what I wanted, and she got it. She explained it to him and he stared at both of us like we were nuts. Then she walked away leaving me to suffer alone.

Again he began his tepid attempts. More hair dust. I radiated green and fought the urge to leap out of my seat, smash him against the wall and demand, “What don’t you get about ONE INCH!” He must have felt the impending danger of bodily harm and asked me, “Are you okay?”. I reminded him about the one inch. He paused and pulled out a comb. Placing his thumb on a tine that was about one inch from the top, he asked, “That much?”. Yes that much. Yes, please. Yes.

Finally big clumps of hair fell to the ground. It looked like I might get a Beatles bowl-cut. “Now how do you want it in the back?” I began, “What I want is–” He cut me off, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. I got it.” The seams burst from my clothes,”No, how about I just tell you anyway.” A few minutes later he asked what I wanted done with my bangs, but right as I responded, he turned on hair dryer. In the background Whitney Houston echoed my feelings as she wailed, “I have nothing, nothing, NO-thinggggg…..”

Slowly, tediously, my hair began to take shape. Pausing throughout, he pulled out his comb, placed his thumbnail on the tines and consulted me about length. He began to transform from a little kid cutting a Barbie doll’s hair to someone who might actually know what he was doing. I shrank back to my normal size and took on a flesh-colored hue. Another stylist walked by and nodded in approval. Kevin continued to work, muttering, “I want to get this right.” As he finished up, the lady next to me smiled and admired the cut.

When he was done, he held up the mirror so I could see the back. He did a good job. He smiled and nodded, “Yes, yes. I see what you want now. I’m sorry for the miscommunication. I didn’t know much you wanted cut off.” Even though I was thrilled with my cut, splotches of green broke out on my arms.

As we went to the payment counter, Elvis Costello belted out, “What’s so funny about peace, love, and understanding?” Kevin rang me up, “We have raised our prices to $18.00, but I didn’t do much with your bangs, so it’ll be $15.00.”

While the gals there and I could talk about hair and what we want from it, Kevin communicates with the comb. If I ever get him as a stylist again, I will get the comb and tell him how many tines I want cut off, rather than inches.

Oh, You’d Catch A Grenade For Her? Please Don’t.

Dear Bruno Mars,

Bruno, Bruno, Bruno…  I am sure that your anguish and devotion to your unrequited love is to inspire pained teenage hearts and hatred for that obviously hateful girl who does not appreciate that you would willingly decapitate yourself for her.  How can she be so lackadaisical and nonchalant about your grand gestures of love?  I mean, you’d take a bullet through the head for her and she won’t do the same!  How can she be so heartless and cruel to disregard the fact that you’d jump in front a moving train or throw your hand on a blade?  You’re not asking much from her back– just all of her love.

Bruno’s working through some heavy stuff.

Now Bruno, sit next to me and watch a few episodes Sex and the City and get schooled in relationships.  Carrie and the girls would tell you that you’re doing all of the work, but have missed all of the red flags.  You gave her all you had, and you say she tossed it in trash.  She’d watch you burn down in flames.  Yes, she said she said she loved you, but you’re Bruno Mars.  I’m sure thousands of girls have all said, “I love you, Bruno!”  What else is she going to say?  Is this the same girl who won’t believe your compliments?  The one who you’d kiss all day if she’d let you?  (Obviously, she’s not.)  The one that you try to convince to get married (because you’re  looking for “something dumb to do”… was that a Freudian slip there, Bruno?).  The girls would point out that right from the beginning when you kissed, she had her eyes wide open.  Why were they open? She’s just not that into you.

I know, I know, that phrase is for girls.  It’s what they’re supposed to hear about guys after they do everything to attract them and fail miserably.  They learn to accept this fact and move on with their lives, and you need to do so, too.   She’s probably ripping the brakes out of your car because she wishes you would stop guilt-tripping her for not sharing your feelings and go away.  Have you been sending her your “It Will Rain” lyrics or setting it as her ringtone?  If you are, she’s probably heeding your advice, packing morphine, and waiting for a Dexter-like moment.  Imagine if you received “Grenade” from a girl.  Would it a be a sweeping romantic gesture?  Would it inspire greater love on your part? Probably not.  Most likely it would move your cute little butt to the police station to file a restraining order against the Glenn-Close-FatalAttraction wannabe.  You would be very worried for your bunny.

So, Bruno, please.  Get a grip on yourself.  Move on.  Go spill your tears in your beer about love gone wrong with Adele.  She will tell you that sometimes it lasts in love, but sometimes it hurts instead.

Best of luck.


A high school teacher who is tired of her female students thinking that someone catching a grenade for them is romantic.  Dealing with Romeo and Juliet is enough, thank you.  Now pardon me, I have to write Adam Levine about his mooooooooooves like jagger.

The Results Are In! What Toby Thought…

For the very first ever “What Is Toby Thinking?” challenge we have a tie!  To add to the whole competition fun, the winners’ names correspond so well: they are Dad Knows and Shut Up Dad.   If you have not checked out their blogs, please do so.  They both have wry senses of humor but about disparate topics.  Dad Knows will help you determine if that is really a praying mantis you’re seeing, while Shut Up Dad can help you determine your favorite instrument.

Here is how they both have given me insight to my enigmatic Toby:

The image in question.

Dad Knows: “The sunset sure is a fine one tonight. I wonder how quick first class mail is these days. Did I eat dinner? I think I’ll turn in and listen to Coltrane while I do some reading.” Oh, wait – what’s TOBY thinking. In that case, “I don’t think she saw me sneak that second sip of her wine. But, darn it, my tongue is numb.”

Shut Up Dad: Cat food? I said seared tuna…(in a “no duh” monotone style)

Round of applause everyone?


Remember it could be you on the leader board!  Watch for the next segment of the “What’s Toby Thinking?” challenge!