I stepped into the hallway and got swept along the tide of moving bodies, exiting just in time to reach my classroom door and escaping the against-the-current trek that would have ensued had I mistimed my departure by another second or so. Standing in the doorway I noticed the reek of cheap cologne seemed stronger than normal.
Then I realized it was Friday.
On Fridays the males of the species instinctively apply an overabundance of pheromones to attract the females of the species, hoping that illicit hallway trysts can become something more since the weekend is at hand.
All day, it seemed, the stench grew stronger, peaking during lunchtime, when presumably the males reapplied their aromatic elixirs. And the decades-old mating ritual seemed to work. By the end of the day I noticed quite a few females of the species swooning into the outstretched arms of the males.
My study of this species has been fascinating. As I have been living among them for several months now, they have finally begun to accept me as their own. Not as a peer, mind you, but as an elder member of the tribe. I find they treat their elders with a mix of respect and disdain and an overwhelming sense of curiosity. It boggles my mind how much they would like to know about me, how much they want me to understand their daily lives (largely via media), and how much they want to help me improve my appearance.
Just this past Friday, as I spent my time contemplating their mating rituals, two of their females offered to flatiron my hair, one of the males implored me to view a favorite television program (explaining that although his parents couldn’t keep up with the show’s intricacies that perhaps I could), and a male and female friend pair inquired after my allergies.
Additionally, they are learning a bit about me. I believe that at least some of them are beginning to understand my sense of humor.
For example, I typically begin class with a learning journal prompt that helps the students reflect on the previous day’s learning and prepare for the lessons of the day. On Thursday we had a day of independent choice activities while I conferenced with students on their papers. Their prompt for Friday read as follows.
- Write about what you learned during your independent choice day yesterday and how you will apply what you learned.
- “Nothing” is not an acceptable response. I’m sure you learned something in the 47 minutes you spent in class yesterday. Figure out what you learned and write about it.
Most of the population groaned, but two females exhibited different responses. One female, seated in the front corner of the room, squealed, “Oooh! I learned about all kinds of irony yesterday.” The other female, seated in the opposite back corner of the room, and perhaps like I, feeling heady from inhaling the sticky-sweet, musky stench all day, chortled and said, “I love how in your sassy way you anticipate the teenage brain.”
All of these interactions happened in just one day. My days increasingly display this mutual give-and-take where we learn more about each other and accept our membership roles in the tribe.
Despite this heightened awareness of their actions, however, I’m never prepared for the olfactory onslaught of Fridays.