I walked into my fourth hour computer science class towards the end of the year. Granted, a fourth hour computer science class never seems to lend itself to particular diligence and intellectualism, and, yes, it does get worse as the year draws to a close and the weather outside gets nice. Remember, after all, that the computer science classroom houses an unusual number of ninth grade boys. Still, on this particular day, my special trio of yahoos (and I say that with all of the affection in the world), seemed more-than-ordinarily rambunctious. One of them was practically falling out of his chair laughing.
I wasn't in the best of moods. I don't remember why, but it probably had to do with suppressed guilt at procrastinating on grading their web projects. Anyway, before I could snap at the boys to pull themselves together, I flashed back to my own ninth grade year and German class. A kid whose name I've long since forgotten, but whose gawky silliness I still can recall, smiled in the front row, and Herr Larson snapped. He yelled at him for a good minute. "Wipe that ridiculous grin off of your face. You look like a fool." Don't worry. The kid played trumpet in marching band. I'm sure he recovered with self-esteem intact. I, on the other hand, was afraid to smile for the rest of the year. The memory of Herr Larson's red, angry face did its usual trick and I swallowed my impatience with the yahoos' shenanigans. Instead of yelling, I just raised an eyebrow at them, so they'd know I was watching them.
Yahoo#1 (falling apart laughing, barely able to speak): "Sorry. It's just-"
Yahoo #2 (seeing that his friend was unable to continue): "He's not being rude. It's just his first time eating Pop Rocks."
OK. Glad I didn't yell then. Made it easier to laugh at - er, with - the poor kid for nearly choking on the surprising explosions going on inside his mouth.