Monday, April 20, 2015
"It's Not Personal ..."
My mother used to tell me--when I was a lad and upset that the rain was going to ruin my plans for an outdoor summer day--that the weather isn't personal. That's just one of her teachings that I never really absorbed beyond skin level.
Or, better, brain level. I knew--logically, intellectually--that it wasn't personal, but still ... It was hurting me personally, you see?
On spring afternoons at Hiram High School (RIP), I remember sitting in the upstairs study hall, its long row of windows facing the west, and watching the dark clouds rolling in, realizing that they were going to arrive just in time to cancel a baseball practice or game. I muttered bad words in the Hiram study hall on such days--never loud enough, of course, to be audible to anyone but my conscience. Why, it got me so upset that I couldn't even concentrate on my homework.
Not that I was trying to, mind you. At that time in my life, homework was a synonym for later. (I know: different part of speech; deal with it. And remember, I didn't always do my English homework then--so parts of speech? Whatever.) After all, it had that home part to it, you know? And if I didn't get it done at home, well, there was always study hall. (Can you see why I didn't do all that well in high school? It was the freakin' weather's fault!)
The weather has continued to affect--no, annoy--me throughout my life. Here's one example. In my final decade teaching at Harmon Middle School I used to write and direct what we called The 8th Grade Farewell-to-Harmon Show. (Of course, I could not have done those shows without colleagues Andy Kmetz and Gary Brookhart--but that's another story for another time.)
Anyway, we performed the shows twice, Friday and Saturday night, on the weekend of the final full week of school.
Here's the weather problem: Harmon School supposedly had air-conditioning, but it tended to work best when it wasn't hot outside. I always kept a large fan in my classroom, knowing (wily veteran that I was) that the A-C would conk out in hot weather and that without a fan, I (scion of one of the Great Perspirers in Human History, my father) would be soaking wet by the middle of first period. Not good. (This Sweat Gene I share with my brothers and my son.)
(By the way, I always kept that fan pointed at me, a practice that some of my students found a bit ... selfish. They were right.)
Anyway, I would hope, hope, hope that the weather would cooperate on 8th Grade Show weekend because the Commons (venue for our shows--the cafeteria, really) could get downright Infernal when the A-C was down. Even Satan would have left at intermission.
Some years we lucked out; some years we didn't. And during those latter years, of course, I took it personally--very personally.
Now, in my Twilight Years (no, there's no female Edward Cullen in my tale) I like to ride my bike around town on little errands (coffee, haircut, and the like), and whenever the weather is threatening--AS IT IS TODAY!!--I know I can't ride. (Rain-Biking is not my thing.)
And so I take it personally--even though I can hear the soft voice of my mother saying, Danny, the weather isn't personal.
Oh, yeah? Then why is it about to rain--today--just when I want to go get coffee on my bike?!?! Answer me that, Mom!