I should have realized something was amiss by the parking lot. It was overflowing. Thursday afternoons at The Pond are usually what I’d call comfortably crowded. This had the makings of elevator so packed you decide it’s better to hike the stairs.
I walked in and the place was rowdy with happy strangers. And happy was an understatement. It was like a parolee party at the bar nearest the front gates of the state pen.
My buddies, the bar regulars, were all in a stupor. This may sound routine for men who spend about five or six hours at a stretch in a tavern, but it was only 5 p.m., about two full hours before their usual stupors set in.
What gives, I asked.
“Last week of school.”
Ah, I’d forgotten.
Happy National Teacher Inebriation Week!
This is the week where teachers from three or four different area schools pack The Pond to celebrate the fact that they’d made it through another year of inflicting compulsory education on our darling young morons.
As a parent, my urge was to buy them all a drink to thank them for their excellence.
I do believe our daughters, recent Baggaley Elementary graduates from 6th and 1st grades, have enjoyed wonderful teachers and are getting a great education that will forever brighten their futures.
Of course, my old man believed the same thing about me and look how that’s turning out.
But I didn’t want to impose on their collegial reverie. They were having such a great time.
And these weren’t Baggaley teachers anyway. They were from a rival elementary school and might have taken it as an insult if I’d have gushed about how great the Baggaley teachers are, implying they were a bunch of stiffs by comparison.
I’m sure, too, a parent talking about education was the last thing they wanted to hear.
But I was disappointed in myself that I couldn’t muster the courage to ask them just how they did it.
Not teaching, certainly. I’ve taught. I was for four years teaching graduate students creative non-fiction at Point Park University. And it was all going swell until the state decided -- experience be damned -- teachers should not be less credentialed than their students.
Can you believe it?
What I really wanted to know was how they stayed sober so long.
I have two children I adore and many aspects of fatherhood drive me to guzzle hootch about three or four days a week.
Of course, I’m a writer and many people expect writers to drink and I wouldn’t want to do anything to disrupt the stereotype.
This is true: When I tell people I’m a writer with an office above a bar, it’s not uncommon for some to say I’m just like legendary drunken writer Ernest Hemingway.
I don’t deny it either. In fact, if you take away all his prestige, success, money, his 1954 Nobel Prize for Literature and his Key West mansion full of polydactyl cats, it’d be difficult to tell Papa and me apart.
I think if I were a school teacher I’d need to be about 20 percent drunk about 70 percent of the time.
People say you have to really love kids to be a teacher.
Wrong. You have to really love kids to be Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar.
Spending nine months with the kids of 20 strangers is an entirely different matter. And it’s not just the kids, which I think would be doable.
Worse, is that these kids each have hovering parents who stay up nights thinking of ways to ensure you are doing your best with their precious little Einsteins.
So teaching is like preparing a Thanksgiving dinner with about 50 in-laws crowding the kitchen, each one offering advice on how to roast the perfect bird.
So hat’s off to our nation’s teachers.
You can now sleep off your annual hangovers and go back to a long summer of house painting and fending off bitter personal attacks from taxpayers who resent subsidizing your overseas sabbaticals and three-month summer vacations.
Me, I’m going to spend the day seeking out the giddy watering hole of the only professionals whose habitual sobriety surprises me even more than your own.
You see, it’s also National School Bus Driver Inebriation Week!
Related . . .