Pop Tart

In the middle of a busy class, as my students clumped into various pairs and groups to work on the student paper, two very blond girls appeared in my room. The leader looked like a short Paris Hilton wannabe, and she had brought her little friend, who had to come with her to keep her company. I could tell they wanted a favor, and even though I didn't know them, one girl held a clue, in the form of a video camera, so I had a pretty good idea what the favor was about.

It turned out to be one of those times when, looking back, I bitterly regretted not having my own reality TV crew on hand to cover what happened next. It wasn't a big dramatic moment, it was just so funny in so many small, detailed ways, that now, many hours and many students later, I can't remember the fine points and subtleties that made it such a rich comedic experience. I'll just deliver some highlights and let your imagination fill in the rest as best you can.

It started when the main girl held out the camera like a burnt offering and asked me if I could fix it, because she had a super important tape in it that she had to finish and send off to a college as part of her entrance requirement, and it was due by Friday. Seems it was working just moments before, but now all it would do was play the tape looking all weird.

I looked at it, and she was right, the picture was just blurry fuzz. I started probing around and as I did I began asking questions, like, "did you do anything to it that might have caused it to break?" She got a sheepish look on her face and mentioned that she might possibly have dripped popsicle juice inside it. " Hmmm. I see. What color? Something like the color on that little thing inside there?" "Yeah. That exact color." Hmmmm. OK then.

It emerged that it was a tape of cheerleaders doing their routine, and suddenly things made more sense. And it also came to light that this was for UCSB, one of the most notorious party schools this side of the rockies. She had another tape, and we tried that with the same results, but after I fast-forwarded the entire tape, rewound tape it and tried to play it again, it began to work. Guess the popsicle juice got spread around enough to stop interfering with the transport controls.

I was drawn into watching her tape. It seemed there was a drawing of a deer with no antlers, and a teenage boy was standing by the drawing, but he did have antlers. He. Was. Wearing. Antlers.

While I fiddled with the camera Miss Cheerleader was on her cell phone. When the camera was fixed she squealed with delighted relief, and she and her little friend left. A while later they were back. She had lost her phone. Nope, not in my room, and she was off for good this time, groaning about what an awful day she was having. Ah youth.


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