Thursday, June 17, 2010

Bear No-show

Boo-yes. I went to the Bronx Zoo yesterday. It was superb. The sea lions are the best part. They bark a lot and jump up on the edge of the pool, ten feet away from the spectators, and bark some more, fiercely. It startles the crowd.

I saw tons of lemurs. They were okay. The bear didn't show. The hyenas were cool, but I only saw them from afar. They looked sinister. The gorilla kept his back to us the whole time. He was pretty far away, too. At one point, a guy walked into the gorilla observation zone, grabbed the telescope thing from one of my students, and said, while peering intensely through it, "I got this! I'm an ex-marine." Then, of course, the kids asked him a bunch of questions about his time in the service, and he told them that you need a lot of math skills in the marines, and that they need to stick with the math. Too bad I'm their English teacher. Now I just have a bunch of students that hate my class and are good with a scope.

It's amazing how a trip to the zoo will bring out the best in your students. When we were looking at the snake exhibit, Troy, who has had a tough year in school, seemed to be glowing with inspiration. It was clear that the natural world had moved him in some way, and he opened his mouth to speak. "If you poop in your dream you poop for real," he said. Then, a reprise, this time while sauntering away: "If you poop in your dream you poop for real." Just in case no one heard him the first time. It was profound. That's the thing about teaching: You can't save all the kids, but if you can just get that one kid to explain the dream-to-reality poop crossover in public, unprovoked, you're a success. Thanks Troy.

I ate waffles and fried chicken at Sylvia's Soul Food Restaurant, in Harlem. It was tasty. I also ate coconut shrimp. Big first for me. I felt slightly ill afterward.

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