The Asshole Brigade.

Found no excuses not to go to bed early and had retired with book in hand when I remembered that today, for the second day in a row, the guitar student stopped by to pick up CDs I had forgotten to burn for him.

G Man, you'll be pleased with this -- it's not terribly often I find myself completely out of my depth with someone musically, but this kid, you know, it's his thing. So to continue our musical trade off, I'll have to think on my feet. Or resort to things Gary has introduced me to, of course. Can you guess where this is going, G Man?

Rory Gallagher, of course. No little sixteen year old darling who cradles his guitar like a lover should exist without having heard Rory Gallagher. There's a slight chance the boy knows him already. But I doubt it. It seems to be a bit off his beaten path.

Today I had the only class in the entire third grade that causes trauma amongst the teachers -- the infamous 310. 311 is the total weirdo class, but they're mostly harmless, as long as you can somehow manage to keep their attention. 310 has a whole table of little assholes who the other boys won't even go near. God knows how we were lucky enough to end up with them all in one class, so they have the added mob effect to escalate their hooliganism. They used to give me shit back when I was actually teaching them, but, in the space in between with our hallway interactions, two things happened that changed all of this:

1. I got my ear gauged.
2. I got a new tattoo.

Now I'm the official hero of the 310 asshole brigade. As a result, they dominated the entire class period asking me questions about tattoos -- how much they cost, how much they hurt, the difference between black and colored ink. Telling me all about the tattoos they'll get when they turn 19, drawing elaborate sketches.

They even confronted me quite directly about smoking, and when I turned in on them, openly admitted that they smoked. There are a lot of nonsense subjects I'll engage with, with my students. Encouraging underage substance usage is not one of them. As a general rule, I do not smoke outside in my neighborhood. I do not carry cigarettes with me to school. I'm not ashamed of my smoking habit, as I am an adult and I have the right to make my own choices. However -- call me old fashioned -- I do feel the need to watch the way I represent certain things in front of the students. They know I smoke -- they can smell it on me. And when they ask me about it, I answer honestly. But there's no reason to do it in front of them, or to give the impression that I condone it.

"Teacher smoking?"
"What's it to you? Do you smoke?"
"Yesuh. I smoking."
"You're too young."

I drew a "19" on his paper and circled it.

"I not young! I man!"


Hysterical laughter. I rounded it all off by making fun of one of their super cool haircuts. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

At the end of the class, I gave my little goodbye speech. I told them all that I would miss them, and to come visit me next year. 310 doesn't have the best English, but one student raised his hand and shouted out, "샘!"


When they all calmed themselves down from the intense experience of me having used a single Korean syllable, he continued....

"내년에 --"
"야! 바보야! 완어민샘 한국어를 못해!"
"아 그.... 샘?"
"Haha what?"
"Uh.... you... here... always?"
"Yeah. Yeah I will stay here."
"아 진짜!?"
"Yes really. So come visit me."

The asshole brigade lingered. "왜 왜 왜!"

They asked me to take out my earring and let them have a look. The leader of the pack then decided that he liked mine better than his. "샘! Passuh!"


"Passuh! Changee!"

"Uh. No. That's dirty."

"아 새ㅐㅐㅐㅐㅁ! No dirty! Changee!"

"No. Dirty. 나가."

"샘 next year 진짜 here staying?"


"Okay! See you later!"

Deep bows all around as they saw their way out. Maybe you even miss the little bastards, sometimes.

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