If there's one thing that I hang my hat on as a teacher of teenagers, it is that my corny jokes and trying-too-hard pop culture references will at least get some reaction. Most of the time the reaction is a "Weaaaak" call, a groan, or a laugh, a bit too hearty. At these times, I actually feel bad for the one who laughs. My joke, my pop culture reference is usually not funny enough to warrant laughter.
But you see, Dear Reader, I am playing a part. I am the man who plays the man who is funny by purposely not being funny. Get it?
So, on a particularly listless day in my classroom, a first period lesson on the armistice signed after World War I, I referenced a primary source document we were reading in which an American soldier writes a love letter to his girlfriend from Europe.
As I spoke about the letter and its significance, I dropped a line about the soldier missing his "baby boo."
Suddenly, from the waves of sleeping students came a high-pitched manaical laugh. The girl, pint-sized and always full of energy and opinions, could not stop laughing.
" 'Baby boo!' " she said in explanation.
"What?" I said, playing Gene Wilder to her Richard Pryor. Playing, though, you see, as I knew that I was being coy, and that's what made it funnier...
"It's just funny when someone old..." she started, and the class, silent before, became even more silent.
"No need to finish," I said, moving on, a bit too quickly to more tidbits about World War I.