Teenagers spend as much time trying on adulthood as they do trying on clothes. In between the hours allotted to updating social media, hanging out, and consuming large quantities of pizza bagels, adolescents spend the rest of their conscious hours prowling the aisles of life, looking for articles of adulthood that will fit even before they’ve stopped growing. If something seems the right size, they snatch it up and wear it while they’re waiting for the rest of maturity to arrive. One piece of the adult wardrobe that teens find in their size is the overcoat of justification. As a teacher, I have the pleasure of watching their attempts to learn the finer points, but these are a few of my favorites.
Andy had an unexplained absence for the day before, so as he strolled into the room carrying a laptop to accomplish the day’s assignment, I motioned him over. “Where were you yesterday? You’re hardly ever absent.”
Andy stood beside my desk, so tall that he was experiencing a different climate than the rest of us. I was getting a muscle spasm in my neck just from trying to make eye contact. “I had to stay home to babysit four Ugandan orphans.”
Boy, if I had a dollar for every time I heard that one. “And where exactly does one find Ugandan orphans around here? And how did you manage to make off with four of them?”
Andy laughed. “They’re singing at different churches in the area, and they were at ours yesterday. We just volunteered to feed them.”
“So your bodyguard duties are over?”
“Yep. They’re in a different county by now.”
So from this example we can see that you can come up with an improbable scenario as long as you can keep corroborating evidence on the move. Have the latest Russian czar over for tea if you like, as long as he’s off to Atlanta by dawn.
A second example is when Karen dashed into my classroom, ten minutes late and out of breath. I arched an eyebrow in her direction, so she pulled a crumpled note from her pocket.
“I was helping Mr. Sheldon move snake hatchlings from one crate to another, and it took longer than we thought.”
But then again, don’t snake hatchling transfers always take longer than one anticipates? I glanced at the note and saw the explanation matched, although the time stamp was iffy. I made her turn her pockets inside out, just in case she had any leftover refugees in her trousers, and then allowed her to take a seat. The lesson learned here is that you can take all the time you want at your locker if you can just work the word reptile into your excuse. Teachers become hyper focused on scales and forked tongues instead of clocks and homework assignments.
Finally, we have the case of Tim. I was standing a few feet away from my desk rifling through a stack of essays when I saw Tim charging my way with a speed reserved only for clearing hurdles. Right before he tackled me, he took a leap in the air and landed eight inches behind me with a resounding thud. I unfurled my body from the defensive stork stance I had assumed and said, “Explain.”
He lifted his number twelve sneaker and revealed the crumpled body of a granddaddy long legs, who hadn’t even had time for last rites. “He was right behind you, Ms. Carver. I saved your life.”
Clearly. Because if that sucker had pounced, I would have had a mere six months to shake him off my boot before he managed to chew his way through the zipper and leather. Talk about a close call.
But as we see in this stellar example, you can justify even the most irrational actions with the label of heroism. So what if you almost knock your teacher into the white board and make her wet her pants? You can’t condemn the white knight on that gallant steed just because he tramples the damsel in distress. She really should learn some evasive maneuvers. Good intentions are everything and justify almost anything.
© 2013 – Traci Carver