Wednesday, March 24, 2010

You're Not the Boss of Me

Being the cool teacher I like to think I am, I asked my students to suggest topics that they might like to write about for their final in-class essay. The first student raised her hand and said that she would like to write about where she sees herself in five years . The next student raised her hand and said that she’d like to write about a memorable experience. And, so it went for a while: your basic essay topics (which is fine with me because the essays don’t have to be ground-breaking; they just need to have the correct structure and be grammatically sound). And, then another student raised her hand and said, “Why don’t we write about all the things we would do differently than our parents did when they raised us?”

It’s so fascinating to me how open my students are about their personal issues. You should really see some of the stuff I’ve read in essays: first sexual experiences, details about their drug use, and one of my colleagues even had a student confess to a stabbing. I mean, in suggesting the essay topic, my student basically announced to the class, “My parents are assholes!” Is it that young adults are extremely open these days, or am I just really reserved?

Or is it that I am just really passive agressive? Although it would probably be therapeutic to write about my issues with my parents, when I'm mad at them, I prefer to just rub my differences in their faces. So, for example, my mom raised us to eat very healthy, so if I were mad at her, I might just go over to her house eating a Big Mac (she also raised us vegetarian.) To assert my independence from my father, I could rock up to lunch wearing a USC shirt.

When I think about it, this whole country is passive aggressive. America was pretty much Britain’s offspring. When America was a baby, Britain told us what to do and we didn’t have a say in it. Finally, we grew up and we rebelled and asserted our independence. And now, although we get along again, we still make sure to do things differently than the English to rub it in their faces. For example,

We say tomato and they say tomato. (It’s hard to tell this difference in writing.)
We drink coffee instead of tea.
We play baseball instead of cricket.
We put the period inside the quotation mark and they put it outside.

For example,

Gordon Brown said, "Old Chap, I'm on the edge of my seat. Tell me again how many times you snubbed me".

Barack Obama said, "I think I snubbed you five times."

It’s the same with the comma:

"I knew we should never have left these silly Americans to their own devices", said the Queen of England.

"I hope that she appreciates that I dressed up as bloody hell for her," said Lady Gaga.

But, as the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree, America followed England's lead in placing the semi-colons outside the quotation marks.

Madonna said, "Come here love and give us a Frenchy"; then she leaned in for the kiss.

Britney Spears said, "Madonna, I didn't know you were British"; then she gave Madonna a Frenchy.