I'm going to post a story that I think best illustrates the kind of camaraderie that we had as a teaching staff. I wrote it at the time because it was one of those events that I really wanted to remember. The story is longish, so I'll post it in parts. Just an FYI, it was our custom to call each other by our last names without any title.
Feel free to read with a southern accent. If you know a N'Awlins accent, even better!
"Excuse me baby... I forgot to call about my pig," with that, she whipped out her cell phone right in the middle of my fourth period class where she was helping me distribute textbooks to my students.
When I first laid my eyes on Prentiss, she frightened me; she still does. This late middle-aged, dashingly dressed, high-heeled, Virginia Slims 100's smoking (out of a fifties cigarette holder), black woman with a jutted jaw and a martini voice, is my colleague. We teach fifth grades at a school in what locals call a blighted neighborhood within the New Orleans public school system. She has been here for twenty-seven years, knows the families in the neighborhood, taught the children's mamas, grand-mothers and aunties. I've been at the school for three weeks now. Prentiss and I are peers.
"...err, yeah...Hello. I dropped off my pig yesterday to be worked on."
Here's where I couldn't hear too well. She mumbled pig's name.
"His problem...?" He's been urinating blood... This afternoon? Okay...When you might think I can pick him up? ...Okay...."
"I'm sorry baby... I had to call. My pig hasn't been feelin' too good. ...he's a pot belly... 'took him to Baton Rouge yesterday to the hospital, but they haven't worked on him yet. 'hope he's gonna to make it."
'Um....now where was I?... Taylor, Dondrel...You're next."
Next morning, just to make conversation, I asked Prentiss for news about pig.
"They found out what's wrong with him," she says.
"Oh yeah, what's the matter?"
With impeccable frankness, she delivers the following line:
"Baby... his penis is bleeding because he masturbates too much."
I didn't know where to look or what to say.
Part 2 to follow.