Did I Say “Hot Room?”
Still mining the cave called nostalgia. Again, this is from Strippers, Guns, and the Holocaust Museum: My Time as a Chicago Public School Music Teacher and How I Survived.
A Parent/Teacher Conference. Mom stands next to Dad, looking slightly annoyed. Dad, on the other hand, looks pissed. And the eighth grade turd who frequently stirs up trouble in class and is thereby the target of some of my more creative punitive measures, is looking so pleased that Mr. Hall is finally going to get it.
We sit. “So what seems to be the trouble?”
“What the hell is this Hot Room?” barks Dad. “This sounds like borderline torture and I’m not having some music teacher torture my son during school.
We pay your salary, you understand, and I will NOT blah furgle notch tronc...”
As Dad berates me and the Kid looks like he’s just eaten a canary, I decide I have to go for it or lose any authority I have in my classroom with this little turd.
I interrupt Dad.
“Sir, do you need me to put you in the Hot Room? Your tone indicates you may need an attitude adjustment and I’m thinking a few minutes in the Hot Room is exactly what is required.”
He sputters to a halt. I make eye contact with Mom and she sees the smirk. She gets it. And before Dad can relaunch his tirade, she squeezes his hand and says “Fine. Where is this Hot Room? My husband might need a few minutes in there.”
Dad looks confused and still furious but I move fast and look at the Kid. “You stay right here,” and start moving down the hallway hoping the parents follow.
At the end of the long hallway, I stop in front of the room in question (as described earlier) and look back at the Kid. He is standing in my office doorway looking a little freaked out, unsure of how his meticulously laid plan had gone awry. I open the door to the Hot Room and bark so the Kid can hear me “Hopefully next time you won’t come in here with such a poor attitude" and usher the parents in the room. I shut the door. The windows are wall sized and Dad and I are looking at each other. I wink.
A beat. Dad slowly understands. It isn’t hot at all. The windows to the outside are open. The radiator is not broken. And a smile starts to come over his face and he begins to laugh. I immediately look at him as if to say “Don’t Blow My Story.” And, again, Dad gets it. Mom is smiling from ear to ear at this point.
I open the door and say (loud enough for the Kid to hear) “You had enough? Hot enough for you?” and I look at Dad and wink. He gets it and stumbles out of the room, breathing heavily. Mom plays along, too.
The Kid stares from down the hall with despair and shock.
As we walk back to my office, Dad whispers, “You’re a genius!”
“Don’t tell anybody,” I whisper back.