“You could be ANYTHING and you chose this?” (Chapter one of Da G.O.A.T.)

*This is chapter one to my first short story titled, Da G.O.A.T (The Gangsta of ALL Teachers). Remember, these blogs are only available for TWO WEEKS and they will be deleted. Then, chapter 2 for 2 weeks and deleted, chapter 3… I appreciate all likes and loves. I respond to all comments. Those SHARES tho? *

“Actually, naw to the nope. I went to college hating math and wanting to own a nightclub.  I was never popular in my school. I left few impressions in my small hometown. Girls rarely gave my nerdy tail any play. Maaaaaaaan, teaching was the last thing on my mind when I left the crib.” I struggled to keep a straight face at their shocked expressions and reactions of disbelief.

The students burst out talking at once. The questions were all variations of the same.  “CLUB?!! Like a nightclub CLUB? We KNOW you lying Mr. Chase! Why this then?” The questions bounced from student to student. “Whatcha gon call it? What kinda music? Y’all serving them goooood drinks?” The class began to feed on the conversation, questions grew in boldness. “Ladies get in free before 10p? Is there a dress code?”

I laughed myself. I always laugh at the reactions to stories of teachers’ lives before the classroom. All students have images and preconceptions of their teachers. Well, a lot of students do. At least, the ones that participate do. I think. I let the kids excitedly throw their guesses at each other. They were way past caring what the actual answer was. At this point, it was about one-upping each other.

“Mr. Chase, you was just trying to be a playa huh? You already said nobody liked you growing up!” Ouch. That one stung a bit but it is crucial to keep the straight face. If the student know that their guesses are starting to burn me, I lose. I lose quick. Usually, it doesn’t take too long before someone gets close enough that I can slide back in the conversation and steer it towards an acceptable destination.

“NAW, he was prolly just trying to be a thug. A wannabe Jamie Saint Patrick with a fake-ass club Truth.”

Close enough, I thought. “Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding. We have a winner.” The class went silent. Not because someone cursed in my presence. Not because the guess was too wild. Not even because I agreed. Silence always follows K’myree.  She was a live wire without bounds that enjoyed the art of being petty, pushing limits. When K’myree spoke, it was to gauge how much she would hate on you. She took calculated wordplay to the extremes, even by middle school standards.

“Got my money?” she asked? “That was a level 3 question so I earned $30 bucks.”

“LEVEL THREE QUESTION? Come on Mr. Chase! The question was, what did you want to be when you grew up? That is basic, foot soldier level one type of questioning. How she claiming $30?” Cadillac spoke from the back of the classroom. A fierce football player with a true penchant for running smooth off on folks. No lie, it’s how he got the nickname, Cadillac, he really runs smooth and he runs off.

“For real Mr. Chase! $30 is akin to pimping you in your classroom.” said Jamaica. Jamaica was a walking, talking oxymoron of the highest degree. His parents were local defense attorneys that met, married and came home pregnant while vacationing in Jamaica. Jamaica wiped his glasses with a cleaning cloth, folded it neatly along the same creases and slid it into the supply box at the center of his group table.

“FIRST OF ALL…” K’myree spoke loudly. 

“Nope.” I interjected quickly. “Instead, explain why you earned the $30.” “Matter of fact”, I waved $50 at the class, “let’s just see who hustling THIS day. Y’all know rent is due Friday, phone calls home Friday, the whole nine.” The money keeps my classes humming and involved. The Fridays keep my students following classroom rules. Every year, I have a single student design a new set of Knowledge Kash, $10s, $20s, $50s and $100s. I reward students’ participation and effort by handing out Knowledge Kash throughout the week. Students earn the money based on answering leveled questions, asking leveled questions, volunteering, tutoring peers and being a hero/heroine. It is an amazing teaching tool that I borrowed from Otis Boykin Elementary. On Fridays, kids pay rent on their desks, louder the group, higher the rent. After rent, I brag to parents, of the kids with enough Knowledge Kash to pay phone bills, about how well their child has done this week in my class. Short on rent? I move the student and when he/she has earned enough to pay rent and hire movers, I move them back. 

“It was a level one question so it’s worth $10.” said K’myree. “but I gave a level three answer by using inferences, then I added a big picture by analyzing his emotions.” She grinned. “I pay attention fool. I know my stuff.”

“Great job K’myree!” I handed her an old $20 from years ago and a new $10. She frowned at the old $20. 

“Mr. Chase, you tripping with these old $20s.” she responded and flicked her middle finger to Cadillac and Jamaica. 

Neither motioned in returned but Cadillac mouthed back, “whatever”.  

Other students kept guessing for the remaining $20 of answers. There wasn’t really another $20 worth of answers but the promise of more money keeps my students aligned and focused. On my desk was my prized, collectable James Brown singing doll. Made of plastic and covered in dust, the volume was one setting, loud. I pressed the on button and JB’s voice belted over the students remaining guesses. They began to simultaneously nod their heads to the rhythm while a hush sashayed over the room. Within seconds, the entire class was quiet. Talking during JB’s I Feel Good song is grounds for automatic rent increase on talkers and groups.

“So, YOU tell us.” said Cadillac. “What made you skip the nightclub to be a damn teacher?”

“I’m keeping a promise.” I said. I pulled an empty student desk to the front and sat on the table part of it.

The class settled into their chairs. “YAAAAAAS!” Jamaica exclaimed. “No more work, tell us a story! Tell us the story of why you teaching.”

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