School is back in session, and once again I am spending evenings teaching at the university that, in a madcap, misguided moment of institutional weakness, hired me as an adjunct professor.
This idea — “Mike Redmond, teaching” — never fails to get a laugh from the people who knew me during kidhood, when my objective was to put as much distance as possible between myself and the people who chose that profession.
This is not to say that I had bad teachers. In fact, most of my teachers were terrific. And it’s not to say that I was a bad student, either. I was, but it’s not to say that.
(Actually, since my mother reads this stuff, I have to ’fess up and say I was a pretty good student for most of my academic career. The last couple of years were kind of dicey, but for the most part I made good grades, although never quite good enough for you-know-who. If you don’t, she’s mentioned in the first sentence of this paragraph.)
I just reached a point where I didn’t want to go to school anymore, and I made sure to impress this upon just about anyone who crossed my academic path. My classmates bore the brunt of it, but I also managed to pass the news on to most of my teachers and not a few school administrators for good measure.
Sometimes it was useful, such as when I was getting hauled in for my umpteenth lecture from the dean of students about how You Can’t Write Certain Things In The School Newspaper and You Don’t Want To Be Led Around By The Wrong Crowd and You Don’t Want This To Wind Up On Your Permanent Record.
Since I was pretty much clocked out as far as being a good little student goes, I had nothing to lose, or so I thought. Therefore I had no problem pointing out to the dean that by the time the lecture began, I had already written Certain Things In The School Newspaper and with any luck my fellow students were reading them. As for being led around by the wrong crowd, I was the editor, so it looked to me like he had it backward.
You can take it from me that such logic does not endear a person to authority figures. Remember that, kids. And that permanent record thing … it’s true. Somewhere in a bomb-proof, apocalypse-resistant vault carved into a mountain in Utah, there’s a piece of paper upon which is written “Mike Redmond is a smart-aleck.”
Anyway, so here I am now, all these years later, a teacher, helping out in the music department by teaching the History of American Popular Music, a subject I know well, having been alive for quite a bit of it. And I am having, as I always do, a blast.
Basically, I play a lot of records, and the students and I talk about them. It’s a lot like hanging out at the house on Record Party Night, except the refreshments at home don’t come out of a vending machine.
Now, all these years later, I’m eager to go to school and a little sad that I only get to do it two nights a week.
I wonder if that’s going on my permanent record.
Mike Redmond is an author, journalist, humorist and speaker. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.