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Holly Loiselle

©2014

photo of reading at celebrationFirst Impressions

He was sitting there with his broad shoulders, silverback gorilla style, to the rest of the staff when our principal told him to stand up and introduce himself as the new in-school suspension supervisor and coach. He turned to face the staff with a broken nose and two black eyes.

“You should see the other guy,” he half grunted. Eyes wide, collective gasp as we gawked at him. Amy and I started whispering, and even the hard core coaches with whistles around their necks, chest hair curled over their undershirts, and tube socks on their feetin the back of the room started whispering. The lanky basketball coach craned his neck for a peek. The girls softball coach scanned him like he was competition. The wrestling coach stared. The football coaches, like end-of-their-careers old, big and tough, stared. This guy was young, big and tough. Who is this guy? Who shows up to be introduced looking like that? Ahhh, a hockey coach. Young, but I bet those coaches invite him into their club anyway. Twenty bucks says he gets invited to their poker night. Another twenty says he can't smoke a cigar, can't play poker, and they take his money. Jocks. They probably have a fight club.

I wonder if it had been a fight. Must’ve been a fight. Bar brawl at The Tross on a Tuesday night? ¬†Totally. This young, tall, dark, curly-headed guy is a head coach at maybe 22 years of age? He had the muscles for it. Muscle head.

Amy, a pretty brunette who was my English teacher buddy, was introduced to the staff the same way two weeks earlier, but without the broken nose or two black eyes, but then again, she wasn’t running the in-school suspension program either. So our principal let him sit down after 30 seconds of us gawking, and two minutes of how the ISS room was going to work with our support, but Amy and I couldn’t stop the 12-year-old giggling, whispering, and judgmental note-writing to each other.¬†

Yo! Adrian! This guy sounds like Rocky.

Oh he sounds intelligent. Giggles.

STELLLLLLLAAAAAAAA!!!!!

Good one. You are awful. More giggles.

Good thing he’ll be behind a locked door all day.

Ya think he gets paid the same as us for being a jailor?

You think he has all his teeth- he IS a hockey coach.

I don't know. He didn’t smile.

You think he can bench press with those eyebrows? His brother Cro-Magnon Man can.

But she backhanded my bicep because that was just too mean plus I stole her snarky judgment.

He noticed the buzzing. He noticed the stares. He sneered at us over his massive shoulder.

Is that all bone or bulk in that shoulder?

Another backhand. “Holly. He’s looking right at you.”

I soon realized the jailor made my life easier. I had naughty students my first year who kept being naughty even after I yelled at them, gave them detention, wrote a tree worth of referrals, pleaded with them, bribed them, and called their parents repeatedly.

He spent days locked behind those doors with nothing but a bathroom, some wood cubicles, inspirational posters, you know the one with the frog reaching out of the crane’s throat that says, ”Never Give Up!” and the sad-looking cat that says “Hang in There,” and those naughty teenagers. He listened to them. He bribed them with physical activity. He honestly complimented each to boost their self-worth. He released them. They trusted him. Sometimes they brought their lunch in to eat with him, then they lectured other troubled souls to stay out of “the prison.” Seems his economics degree from St. Thomas didn't help him teach better, but his essence did.

He was not a pretty boy; he was not just a jock; he was not in a fight club either; and he was not too young to master the art of teaching.

I married him.