For some reason, the weirdest classroom chatter always occurs on Monday. Perhaps it’s the combination of the students not seeing their friends for two days, plus all the free time that students have over the weekend to do anything except homework. So, when a good-natured student walked into class on Monday and excitedly declared, “I almost killed myself this weekend!” I was taken aback.
This particular student is comical, outgoing, and slightly annoying. Therefore, he is sort of like me in high school. Anyway, given his personality, I knew that the phrase “I almost killed myself over the weekend” was going to be a set-up for some sort of bizarre story and not a cry for help.
“So, what happened?” I asked.
“Okay. It was totally crazy. I almost killed myself by huffing. Do you know what that is?”
Shaking my head, I say, “Of course I know what huffing is; I listen to the Ramones*. Why were you doing that?” (*Aside: I didn’t know what huffing was until I read the liner notes for the first Ramones album. In the liner notes, Joey Ramone explains that members of the band would spray bathroom cleaner and glue into a bag and “huff” it to get high because they couldn’t afford booze – which sounded extremely desperate to me. The Ramones reference flies right past this student. Anyway, back to the story… )
“Well, it was a total accident. I had a spray can of compressed air, like the ones that you use to spray the dust of computer keyboards, right?”
“So I started playing with the can. At first I was spraying the compressed air in my cat’s face. My cat was really digging it and thought it was a game and she would try and bite at the air. It was really funny! And after a while I was like, ‘I wonder what this feels like?’”
“Of course! I mean if the cat was having fun, you wanted to know if you were missing out,” I sarcastically quip.
The student – completely missing my sarcasm – says, “I know! Right? Anyway, so I start spraying myself in the face with this compressed air and after about five minutes I start feeling really calm and really dizzy. I’m also starting to black out a little bit but I’m telling myself not to panic. I calmly call to my mom and say, ‘Mom, I really don’t want to die.’”
“So what did your mom say?”
“Well, she comes running into the room and she’s like ‘What are you doing? Are you okay?’ and I’m like, ‘I was spraying myself in the face with keyboard cleaner’ and my mom is like, ‘ARE YOU KIDDING ME? YOU WERE HUFFING?! THAT’S COMPRESSED CO2! YOU COULD DIE FROM THAT!’ and I’m like, ‘Well I know that NOW, mom.’”
“What happened after that?”
“So, after a couple minutes, my vision came back and I felt fine. I then spent the rest of the day convincing my mom that it was an accident and that I’m not huffing.”
“Well, I’m glad you’re okay. Let’s get started with class now.”
I proceed to take attendance and then I try to get class started. Before I can explain the assignment for the day, the student who I was just talking to raises his hand, and in front of the whole class says, “Since I almost died this weekend, can I be excused from doing work? I’m still recovering from the trauma.”
The whole class, who has presumably heard this kid tell the story multiple times throughout the day, responds by laughing.
This job never gets old.