Monday, September 15, 2008
Football Players Meet Romance Novels.
Scenes from My Hometown -- the walkway to my grandparents' home. It has fallen into disrepair, but my parents are planning renovations.
So what happens with macho high school football players* meet romance novels? Hilarity ensues.
My juniors are working on Post-Modernism projects in which they read any novel by any American author which falls into the Post-Modernist time period. So a few days ago, when they brought in their books, I kinda/sorta did a doubletake when I saw the purple cover of one football player's book. He held up the relatively thin paperback, with its orange-ish cover art of a secret agent and the words "Harlequin Intrigue" emblazoned across the top, and said, "I got it from my stepmom. It's okay, right?"
"Um, yeah." I glanced at the book again. "Are you sure you're going to read that?"
"Yeah! I read the back and it sounds kinda good."
I shrugged and went on to log other kids' books -- lots of Stephenie Myer and Twilight**, Sachar and Holes, Tayari Jones and Leaving Atlanta***, even one Winfree and What Mattered Most. The kids spent several days getting immersed in their books. Then, last Thursday, Mr. Football player (I'll call him Robert) looks up from his tome with a horrified expression. "Ms. Winfree! This is a romance novel!"
"Um, yeah, Robert. It is. I thought you knew that."
"No! Why didn't you tell me?!"
By this time, his football buddies are laughing and generally having a great time at his expense. I pin the most vocal (and one of the smartest) kid on the front row (let's call him Ray) with a stare. "You have a problem with romance novels?"
"No, ma'am." He gestures toward Robert's book. "It's just . . ."
I thought so.
Anyway, two or three days pass. Robert is still reading his Harlequin Intrigue. His football buddies are still giving him a fit. I might, maybe, just perhaps have gotten frustrated with his tendency to talk excessively during class and said, instead of threatening him with up-downs at football practice, "Hush and read your romance novel."
So today, it's reading time. All is quiet. Robert snickers. He becomes intently engrossed in his book. He looks up. "Hey, Ms. Winfree, this is a great book."
Now, why do I just know at that point what kind of scene he's discovered?
He goes back to reading. A few minutes later, I am pulled from conferencing with a student about her book by the sounds of a small scuffle. Robert and Ray are tussling over the book, Ray leaning over dangerously in his desk to read whatever page Robert is on. I sigh, excuse myself, go separate the boys, who by now are giggling like seven-year-old girls at a slumber party.
The bell rings a little later and I notice that yet a third football player (we can refer to him as Tom) now has the book and is engrossed. He looks up. "Hey, do we have anymore of these books?"
Well, they're reading . . . that's a good thing, right?
*Names have been changed.
**In my classroom, this series of books is moving beyond what was a girls-only audience. The girls have talked it up so much, the boys are picking them up.
***If you have not read this book, go buy a copy. It's a must-read.