Monday, February 15, 2010

New Beginning 728

Today is Tart day. I pull the sheet over my head in my pathetic attempt to ward off the hot Bangkok morning streaming through the window and the reality of this day banging into my brain. I don’t want to teach the Tarts. I curl in tighter, the fetal position is helping me gird myself for the experience of being in the same room with the Tarts for fifty-five minutes, assuming they show. Cruel and unusual punishment comes in many forms and this is an excruciating torturous piece of suffering I can not avoid. The Tarts are a group of female senior students who have somehow managed to stay in school, haven’t maimed anyone to my knowledge but that could change because each class they are getting more aggressive with each other and their classmates.

Last lesson I had with them, they all sat with their backs to me, flipping through magazines and text messaging each other while I tried to get the simple present tense out of the rest of the class. That was after the Queen of Tarts jumped to her feet and screamed she had to piss as she ground her hands into her groin. Her hench ladies followed suit. I ground my teeth while they ground their, well, you know.

Knowing that I shouldn't expect the Queen's crew back anytime soon, I turn my attention to the rest of my class, the Tarts in Waiting. I don't much want to teach them either, I swallow a couple of pills I got from yesterday's Druggies class. They taste not unlike the chalk I hold in my other hand.

With a shrug, I turn to the board. "Okay, who can tell me what is wrong with this sentence," I say as I scribble, Only ten dollar, me love you long time, sailor.



Opening: Bibi.....Continuation: Anon.

18 comments:

Evil Editor said...

The reaction to this being Tart day suggests that Tart day doesn't happen that often. When and where I was in high school, foreign language classes met daily. I don't see why the Tarts would be scheduled to show up sporadically; even if they paid attention they would fall behind the rest of the class. But I'm sure there must be a reason in Bangkok.

The last sentence of p.1 has problems. Either make it two sentences, or do something like:

The Tarts are a group of female senior students who have somehow managed to stay in school and haven’t maimed anyone to my knowledge--although that could change, because each class they are getting more aggressive with each other and their classmates.

Dave F. said...

That's certainly a VIVID and IN YOUR FACE opening. We keep asking for them and it seems we got one...

I'm not sure if the speaker or the tarts are going to be the main characters. This is a little like those high school movies where the teacher leads the class to some success or great coming of age. Of course it's hard to find redemption for a gang of "five dolla, you want my sister"... unless you're Julia Roberts and Richard Gere or Shirley McClaine and Jack Lemmon.

The only problem I see is maintaining the readers interest because getting out of bed, dressing and driving to the classroom is kinda boring.

Kings Falcon said...

The first line was interesting. Then you lost me as you see-sawed back and forth between what the heck Tarts were and getting out of bed.

Why not start with:

Today is Tart day. Cruel and unusual punishment comes in many forms and I couldn't avoid this excruciating peice of torture. The Tarts are . . .


Now I'm with you all the way. Although the immediate flashback in the second paragraph is a bit concerning to me, but I'll tolerate it as a reader because it's short and explains why this is the MC's own special hell.

Stick and Move said...

The continuation was awesome.

I like the opening, though I'm not wild about present tense so you'd have to set a pretty good hook to keep me reading much further.

Anonymous said...

Comma splices in some places and missing commas in others aside, this just doesn't work for me.

I think one of the reasons those "naive teacher makes good among the inner city kids" stories work is that it's usually pretty clear the teacher has respect for the kids. And it's really about the kids.

What I get from this piece, and the earlier extract, is contempt for the students. The MC has a lot of growing up to do. Hopefully, that's the point, and that's what the story is going to show us, and it's not just a condescending, unrelenting freak-show of how awful these urchins are. Or is the intent to expose what a sham some of these Asia TESOL gigs are?

It might be an idea to take the opportunity and show a little humility on the part of the MC and garner a little sympathy, because much as I loved To Sir with Love and Music of the Heart, I'm about ready to stop reading.

_*rachel*_ said...

I'd shorten the first paragraph to:

Today is Tart day. I pull the sheet over my head in my pathetic attempt to ward off the hot Bangkok morning streaming through the window and the reality of this day banging into my brain. I don’t want to teach the Tarts.


Though I do like that cruel and unusual punishment line.

Do your students know you're writing this?

EE--some schools do block scheduling. Depends on the school.

Or you could condense it as:

Today is Tart day--otherwise known as Cruel and Unusual Punishment day. I pull the sheet over my head in my pathetic attempt to ward off the hot Bangkok morning streaming through the window and the reality of this day banging into my brain. I don’t want to teach the Tarts.... Last lesson....


I'm in favor of cutting the explanation because your next paragraph shows instead of tells.

Neelloc said...

Hi Bibi and Minions, I've recently read another opening of Bibi's and assume this piece has the same tone. I think this is much tighter than the other opening but, as others pointed out, can be tightened further. I'm enjoying reading about your experiences Bibi; they're entertaining and informing at the same time.
Since we've just had Valentine's Day, I interpreted the first sentence as being a harsh assessment of February 14th...

Dave F. said...

My very first reaction to "tarts" was tiny fruit pies that I might want to eat. But then I read the second sentence and that all went away. I'm really very PC and I don't use the word "tart" in the intended meaning.

However, "bangkok" is a different matter. That city invokes a Beavis and Butthead celebration of immature giggling and sneering in my mind.

"Maimed" is another good words that invokes all sorts of images and makes the reading worthwhile.

The second parargaph sets up more than the mere possibility of a bad class day. It sets up the possibility that the Tarts somehow enliven the story as a Greek chorus.

So tightness or wordiness depends on what comes after in the story.

Neelloc said...

Inormative was the word I wanted, not 'informing'. Gah.

Anonymous said...

Great continuation... Thanks. EE yes - I only teach the Tarts once a week -they aren't in the English program, so non EC get us foreigners once a week. Dave, thanks for the encouragment. Annon- uhhuh, Rachel of course, and to my other commenters, maybe, of couse, certainly and I promise to work on my ,'s. I have memorized Strunk's you know, but being a creature from a universe on the other of Stepehn Hawking's well back hole, I find it hard to get the idioms. But I've heard they are very delicious... Best regards and sincere thanks, Bibi

Anonymous said...

Do you know what I love - you ALL got something a little different from my opening. Cultural imprinting is so diverse - and so amazing. The continuation was like someone climbed into my head. Terrific. The teacher is who I wanted readers to care about - yes, he is feeling contempt. And why not? The joke here if we can teach the girls to say "1 hour 40 baht" they can at least make a living...Tongue in cheek guys,
come on, lighten up. TIT. This is Thailand... Thanks for the interest in my little opening. Made my day, heat, rice curry and all. From the land of a thousand stokes, I mean smiles. Bibi

Anonymous said...

Neelloc: What does "inormative" mean? Is that a way to say not ormative? Or is it a bastard way of conveying not a state of being ormative - like "inflammable"? KIDDING! HAHAHAHA, hugs! Bibi
King Falcon, you're with me 'cause you wrote it....Wonderful Bibi

Anonymous said...

I never read to Wwhat's her name with love. (That is a joke.)Why does it it have to be about the kids? Where in the book of of writing does it say so? Dave, there is nothing in the story about getting drssed and driving to work. I agree that is kind of boring - so I didn't write that. And why is this connected to Valentine'Day? Come on guys - this is just an opening. This was the second short story in a column I was contracted to write about an Irish man's experiences teaching in Thailand. The pub/ed thought the stories were funny. That they decided not to pay me caused me to say hey, then don't publish them. Then I shook hands and we parted friends. (Read enemies and I hope they go belly up.) Why shouldn't the teacher have contempt? Is that like WRONG? These are words arranged on a page to tell a story. I didn't know morality was an inssue in an opening - but that's me. Best to all, these insights are grand, Bibi

Neelloc said...

*forehead-smack*

Neelloc said...

Bibi, I thought of Valentine's day because of the focus on romance, and the potential aftermath of sex, and also how men are supposed to focus on and woo either their beloved or intended... plus I have an odd mindset :-9
I hope you submit more of your writing!

Dave F. said...

Dave, there is nothing in the story about getting dressed and driving to work.

I understand. One complaint that I've read online and that was in my mind was that too many novels or stories promise dynamite and action and all sorts of romance and adventure in the first few thousand words. They the reader hits chapter two and sinks into the mundane and boring. The images as vivid as you presented (the Thai tarts) might overwhelm the opening of a long story if they appear just once.

Anonymous said...

Contempt for horrid students is the most natural and unavoidable thing in the world. PC, no. True, yes. I'd read nearly anything that tells it like it is: teaching can be hell.

Would I read this one? Not with the mistakes, but after a good editing, yes.

Anonymous said...

Why shouldn't the teacher have contempt? Is that like WRONG?

What do you think?

Jeez.