On Teaching in Limbo: A Composite
“You teach English littérature at CEGEP?” She stubs out her cigarette. “That is a job that shouldn’t exist.”
She’s on her balcony and I’m on mine. She’s just home from work and is in full, meticulous makeup; she models for a popular magazine for femmes d’un certain âge.
“One.” She raises a finger. “CEGEPs shouldn’t exist. Two years school, no tuition, between high school and university is useless. A gaspillage of students’ time. A gaspillage of my taxes.”
She looks like someone. Maryse, from my intro class. They have the same fluttery-lashed aqua eyes. She could be Maryse’s mother.
“Two.” Second finger. “If CEGEPs exist, they should follow the same language laws like secondary school. Anyone that feel like it can go to English CEGEP? Why? They don’t need French after they have seventeen years old?”
She pauses to light another cigarette and puffs, her eyes never leaving mine. I haven’t smoked in six weeks.
“Three. Literature is obligatory study for all students. If I want to work in computers, in nursing, why I read Shakespeare, or Molière? Grammar, ok. Writing essays, maybe. But poetry, talking about…personification? I can choose that if I want. If not, leave me alone.”
“Maybe I should be a magazine model instead,” I say.
She looks me up and down. “Hmph.”
This morning, Jamar asked what personification was. I told him, and he yelled, “Like Sponge Bob!” and the class cracked up, except Maryse, who rolled her fluttery eyes.
Jamar won’t make it to university. If I were a university teacher, I wouldn’t have met him. If I weren’t a literature teacher, Sponge Bob wouldn’t have come up. And Jamar doesn’t speak French.
“CEGEP makes people happy,” I say. But she’s offering me a cigarette, and changing the subject.