In fact, looking back at this I can say with relative confidence that these classes were some of my favorites. These kids rocked in just about every way possible. So, so funny.
So, without further ado, student quotes from Fall 2004 through Spring 2005...
The following quotes are from a discussion regarding surveys my students filled out on the very first day of school:
Me: “So you had an imaginary friend named Theodore the 3rd? What did he look like?”
Eric: “He was a bike.”
Me: “Your imaginary friend’s name was Mr. Harrison. Was he an older man or something?”
Zach: “He was a P.E. teacher that ate all the people I didn’t like.”
Me: “You said that your dream date would be Pamela Anderson.”
Robert: “Yeah. Well, that was before the kids and diseases and stuff.”
In our discussion about EA Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado,” I asked my freshman students whether they thought Montressor’s killing of Fortunado was justified. One girl said no because it was illegal, and this is how Katie responded to that: “Yeah, but this was olden times. People couldn’t get arrested for killing and stuff back then.”
Amy later added, “I think Montressor earned it. He worked so hard to do it all perfectly. So, killing someone is alright as long as you’re really careful and you do it the right way.”
In my American Literature class, the students and I were discussing what things make us uniquely American, and some of the kids started mentioning different foods. These included things like hot dogs and apple pie, which were obviously very reasonable, but while I was writing these on the board, one student (I’m not sure who because my back was temporarily to the class) added an interesting one: “What about French Fries?”
Mitchell: “Hey Brigs, have you had the Tenderloin here?”
Mitchell: “Oh my God, they’re awesome. They’re the tenderest of loins.”
(I have since had many a tenderloin. They are, in fact, delicious)
Nate, researching his ancestry: “Where’s Wales?”
Me: “Somewhere far, far away. I’m sorry, geography was never my strong suit.”
Nate: “So should I just say that I’m half-Whale?”
Cory, recently moved from Florida, sneezing like a maniac: “I hate allergies.”
Me: “What are you allergic to?”
Cory: “I think it’s the corn.”
Me: “Man, you’re screwed.”
“Wait… the Bulls are from here???”
-Becca, after finding out that the full moniker of the team is the Chicago Bulls.
In our discussion of the short story “The Most Dangerous Game,” one character named Zaroff hunts people instead of animals. I asked the kids if they thought he was civilized:
Mason: “He’s civilized because he has a house and good food and stuff.”
Me: “Yeah, plus he wears clothes I guess, so he has to be at least a little civilized, right?”
Katie: “No, he just does that to make the people feel comfortable so he can kill ‘em!”
Me: “So he’s just pretending to be civilized while people are there, but when they’re gone he runs around naked, wearing tribal face paint?”
Eric: “That sounds like me on weekends.”
“Bats are for the United States only.”
-Katie. Even out of context, it’s ridiculous.
From class discussions surrounding “The Scarlet Ibis:”
“I didn’t think we had pigeons in Illinois.”
Abbi: “Wasn’t Doodle paralyzed?”
Me: “No, he wasn’t. He could walk, remember?”
Abbi: “Oh. That makes sense, because the whole time I was reading that story, I was trying to figure out how he could walk if he was paralyzed.”
-a word invented by Becca, used in lieu of “suffocate.”
“It’s like… get a job, you bum.”
-Amy, expressing her sentiments towards Madame Loisel, main character in the story “The Necklace.”
“I’ve got a headache in my eye.”
We were reading a story about an old Native American man who died, and once they did, the people in his tribe painted his face with tribal makeup.
Me: “So why the face paint?”
Katie: “ I thought they were like, joking around with a dead person.”
Stephanie: “Can we use that little thing with the dot?”
Matt: “What? An exclamation point?”
Me: “I’m now going to drink water and talk at the same time.”
Stephanie: “Don’t do it, you’ll choke! I’ve tried it.”
Me: “If you sink, you’re floating.”
Me: “Whoa, one of the Texas Rangers got in a fight with the fans!”
Jenny: “What, you mean like Walker Texas Ranger?”
Alicia: “If something tastes more like a banana, would you say, ‘this tastes bananier?’”
Kandace: “Hurricanes start in the water, but they don’t come up onto land, do they?”
Katie: “No, you’re thinking of earthquakes.”
Me: “What are you talking about?”
Katie: “Earthquakes start in the water, don’t they?”
Abbi: “Is Romeo and Juliet where the guy pulls on her hair and climbs up a wall?”
Katie: “Aren’t time capsules like, time machines where you get to go to other parts of the world? I always wanted to see Abraham Lincoln.”
Kelsie: “What about your grandma?”
Katie: “And my grandma.”
Katie: “Aren’t Spartans like, Indians or something?”
Stephanie: “Whenever you say ‘Caucasian’ it reminds me of Japan.”
Stephanie: “You’ve got to be 18 to get into Chuck E. Cheese.”
Me: “I’m an awful cook. I don’t make Macaroni & Cheese; I make Macaroni & Powder.”
Grace: “Just add more liquid.”
Me: “You can do that?”
Me: “At age 18, Shakespeare married a woman named Anne Hathaway.”
Katie: “Isn’t that the same name as the girl from the Princess Diaries?”
(a few students nod in agreement)
Kandace: “Really? Shakespeare’s wife was the girl in that movie?”
Katie, upon seeing a picture of Shakespeare’s Globe Theater in London: “Isn’t that where they had the first Olympics?”
Kandace: “What’s ‘his stories?’ Oh, histories.”
The class and I were discussing the section of the Declaration of Independence in which Jefferson makes his complaints and justifications towards King George III of England, and this is the interesting turn taken by the conversation:
Stephanie: “If the King did all this bad stuff, why didn’t they just leave?”
Me: “Well that’s why it’s the Declaration of Independence, Stephanie.”
Steph: blank stare.
Me: “Okay, we’ll try this. What’s the root verb in the word ‘Declaration?’”
Steph: “I don’t know… ‘deck?’”
Me: “I can’t believe you just said that.”
Steph: “Well how am I supposed to know? How do you declarate something, anyway?
Matt, commenting on my tiger-print Dress-Up Day garb: “Where do you get something like that, Kids ‘R Us?”
Me: “So, when you’re reading, keep in mind that Juliet is 12 and probably doesn’t have a very concrete idea about what love actually is. For example, when my little sister was 12, she was in love with Justin Timberlake.”
Eric: “I still am.”
Me: “Since Juliet is so young, she’s extra-impressionable. It’s like this: girls, what happens in your heads when a guy tells you he likes you?”
Erin: “You start liking them back.”
Me: “Exactly, the wheels start turning and…”
Mitchell: “That’s not the way it ever works out for me and my crushes.”
Me: “Really? These girls know how you feel and still nothing?”
Mitchell, kicking Katie’s chair in front of him: “Yeah… Damn you, Katie!”
(It was hilarious, but he did get in trouble for cursing).
“I can say English in Spanish!”
“The Rock is the wrestler who always said he cooks.”
“I went and saw The Forgotten this weekend at… um… I forget.”
-Adam, and yes, it was inadvertently ironic.
Corey, trying to guess what “frail tenant” lives inside the snail-like shell of a chambered nautilus: “I don’t know. A turtle maybe?”
Stephanie, commenting on the VERY old television used in class: “That TV looks like the ones they give away on the Newlywed Game as prizes.”
Katie: “I forgot what you said it means when he says he wanders lonely like a cloud. Does that mean he’s on top of the world, except there’s dandelions up there? I mean daffodils. Like, he’s the God of Daffodils?”
-Discussing Wordsworth’s “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud”
Ashley: “Mr. Brigham, can I use the word heck in my poem?”
Me, discussing Langston Hughes’ poem “Harlem”: When Hughes asks his reader if a dream “explodes,” what dream might he be talking about as a black person in the 1920’s? What does Hughes want?
TJ: “To be free?”
Me, discussing EA Poe’s The Cask of Amontillado: “Montressor has faced some sort of insult at the hands of Fortunado. Now, we don’t know what he actually said to Montressor, but it must’ve been bad. I mean, it could’ve been something like, ‘your mama’s so stupid, she thought MCI was a rapper.”
Kandace: “He is a rapper, isn’t he?”
Mitch, making his point that “black” doesn’t necessarily mean evil in the poem “Eating Blackberries”: “Black doesn’t always mean death. If we were talking about Deathberries, but they were actually pink fluffy clouds of delicious candy, that wouldn’t be evil.”
Me: “What should I be for Halloween?”
Zach: “You should dress up as Waldo and have somebody be policemen who are looking for you. They’d have the Where’s Waldo book for identification, and they could be like, ‘Have you seen this man?
Billy: “Mr. Brigs, have you seen Harry Potter 3 and the Prisoner of Azkaban? Hermoine is HOT in that movie. She’s so stuh-fisticated. I’m not sure what I just said, but I know it’s supposed to start with an “S” and end with a “cated.”
Zach literally brought in toast with his haikus written on them. We were all quite confused by this:
Justin: “Why would you do something like that?”
Zach: “Because I’m artistic.”
Jarrid: “More like autistic.”
Zach Williams’s haikus:
Mario is small.
Hurry! Run for the mushroom!
Mario is big.
So where is Waldo?
Why do we want to find him?
Does he have money?
Me: “Do you guys know what spot research is?”
Eric: “Research about Dalmatians?”
Me, reading a Laffy Taffy wrapper: “Hey Billy, what does a cow use for math?”
Billy: “A pencil… no hang on… a moo-alculator?”
Me: “A COW uses a ‘moo-alculator?’”
Billy: “Oh! A cow-culator!”
Zach: “One time, I tried to make my butt look big by putting two wallets in my back pockets. It kinda worked.”
Stephanie: “When I get really mad, I just get real quiet and don’t say anything.
Dan: “Well then you’re never mad.”
Kandace: “Do bald people still wash their hair?
Katie, noticing the English II notes on the chalkboard: “What’s that word?”
Katie: “Does that have to do with going to the dentist?”
Me, explaining religion to the children: “A sin is like getting your name on the chalkboard in grade school, and God’s just waiting to keep you inside for recess.”
Stephanie: “Don’t the Ukranians speak like, Canada language?”
Steph, again: “What does the FBI stand for? Federal Bartering Agency?”
Grace: “Sometimes in class you use words that are too big for us to understand.”
Me: “Yeah, but you get the gist, don’t you?”
Grace: “What’s gist?”
We were watching “The Birds,” and we couldn’t help but make a few off-color comments:
A child in the movie: “Are the birds going to eat us, Mom?”
Me: “Yes, son.”
Zach: “Now eat your taters.”
TJ, after the birds leave and dead people are lying all over the streets: “You just got Punk’d!”
Me: “Have any of you noticed that despite the fact that thousands of birds have attacked this town at one time, there hasn’t been an ounce of bird poop anywhere on the ground?”
At that moment, the little girl in the film asks: “Why do the birds want to kill us, Daddy?”
Me, dramatically frightened: “Because they... can’t... poop!”
Katie: “Is that blood on her hands?”
Adam: “No, that’s finger nail polish.”
Katie: “Mr. Brigs, I don’t have my homework done because I didn’t understand it, and I forgot to dress up for my speech today, and my first block teacher thinks I might have mono
Nate: “Hey Brigs, tell me if this is sweet or stupid: [my girlfriend] and I were at a huge Christian convention and were watching this pretty big Christian band playing. Well, I got the lead singer to devote one of the songs to Devon in front of like 3,000 people. So is that sweet or stupid?”
Devon, while I ponder my answer: “He’s forgetting to tell you that song that got devoted to me was about breaking up!”
Me, after a brief pause and a blank stare: “Yeah, that was stupid.”
Dan: “We convinced Katie she had mono first block.”
Stephanie: “Couldn’t she just poop it out? I mean like ringworm. Can’t you poop out ringworm?”
Corey: “Hey Brigs, poverty isn’t in the dictionary. I can’t find it.”
Me: “It’s in there, I promise.”
Corey: “Wait, which comes first, W or V?”
Me: “Are you serious?”
Corey: “Well I was thinking V came between W and X.”
Matt: “I want to move to Kentucky someday.”
Jess: “Why Kentucky?”
Nate: “So he can marry his sister.”
Stephanie: “Oh my gosh, I was scared! I thought I was dying because I was looking at you and then you just weren’t there!”
-This said immediately following a short blackout.
Jesse, trying to tell a story after a long day of short jokes made at her expense: “When I was little…”
Austin Meyers: “How about ‘When I was younger…’”
-Collective laughter ensued.
Jesse: “My dream is to build one of those houses… you know, the ones in trees?”
Lydia: “You mean ‘tree-houses?’”
Jesse: “No, I mean the ones made out of wood.”
Stephanie: “Aren’t all trees technically made out of wood?”
Me: "How does Scout describe her Aunt Alexandria?"
Mitchell: "He says she's like Mt. Everest: cold and just sorta there."
Kandace: "Where is Mt. Everest?"
Katie: "Isn't that the one with the president's faces in it?"
Darci: "No, it's in Canada; it's the one with the waterfalls."
Me: "NO! It's in TIBET! Katie, you're thinking of Mt. Rushmore and Darci, the waterfall in Canada is Niagra Falls! What is going on here???"
Me: "Captain Ahab really believed that it was his fate, his destiny, to kill Moby Dick."
Jesse: "Isn't that kind of silly?"
Me: "I don't think so. We all have causes that we fight for every day, you know? We all have our own 'whale,' so to speak."
Nate, referring to his girlfriend Devon, who sits right next to him: "Devon's MY whale. Wait, I mean... I'm not saying you're fat! It's just... oh crap."
Me: “So what did I say was the word that embodies the whole point of this book?”
Me: “Right, so what is Mr. Cunningham doing?”
Me: “The Klu Klux Klan doesn’t like a lot of groups of people. Irish Catholics? Nope. Jews? Nope…”
Zach: “Crunchy Cheetos? Nope.”
Kandace, noticing a hole in the back of Jarrid’s pants: “Hey Jarrid, you’ve got a hole in your butt.”
Zach: “Don’t we all have holes in our butts?”
Me: “Okay, here’s the game plan for today…”
Stephanie, excited: “Ooooh, we’re playing a game today?!?!”
Zach appeared to be disheveled this morning in class, so I asked him what was wrong. I should never have done that. He replied, “Last night at speech team practice, I kept getting nervous when I was up in front of everyone, so someone told me to picture the audience in their underwear. I think I concentrated too hard because I went straight to naked, and now it won’t go away. Stop the naked!”
Justin, upon finding out he had a test in my class the day before Christmas break: “Man, now I have three tests on Friday!”
Me: “Well, do you guys know why teachers assign tests on the Fridays before breaks?”
Amy: “I just always assumed that it was because if the kids did poorly on them, they wouldn’t be able to just walk into school the next day and shoot everybody up.”
Me: “Okay, yeah… I guess that would be a good reason, too.”
A group of ridiculously-dressed Spanish students stopped in my room towards the end of second block, requesting a picture of their wild garments. Apparently, they had to do a presentation in which they identified each of their articles of clothing in Spanish. Playing along, I got out the camera, held it up, and said, “Okay, now say ‘queso!’” The three Spanish students looked at each other confusedly, when finally one replied, “what’s that?”
Jenny: “When I was little, my dad would make me watch Chucky movies as punishment because he knew how scared I was.”
Me: “That’s horrible!”
Jenny: “Yeah… and then that night, after I was done watching the movie, he made me sleep with my brother’s My Buddy doll.”
Jesse: “When I was a kid, I’d set up a bunch of chairs and pretend I was an airplane pilot, and I’d set up the plane into three sections: the cool people, the losers, and the children. But I’d crash the plane on purpose, and I’d run all over the place and knock chairs over. First I’d kill the kids, then all the losers, and then finally the cool people, too.”
Me: “You did this when you were all by yourself, didn’t you?”
Jesse, smiling shyly: “I was the only survivor.”
Me: “So you guys remember my friend Gates? He’s the really good black tennis player.”
Stephanie: “Bill Gates is black?!?!”
Megan: “My cat’s gay.”
Jesse: “Actually, one of my neighbor’s dogs is gay. Both of them.”
Katie, watching the movie version of “To Kill a Mockingbird”: Atticus looks like a computer nerd.”