Friday, April 3, 2020

Marvin's Book Chapter 9: Waiting for Carol at the Door

 (From Marvin's Book: The Story of a Professor and a Promise, 2011)

I never start class without my ASL interpreter Carol being there to translate.

I don’t want to exclude any students from the pre-class questions and answers, so I just don’t talk at all unless she is there. It’s awkward for me to not talk, to not warm the room up, but the students understand. I look down. I cross my arms in front of me. I scowl and check the clock repeatedly.

In the three semesters Carol had been in my classroom as a translator, she never missed a class and was always early. 

On this Monday in March, for the first time ever, the time for the class to begin came and passed and Carol wasn’t there.

I asked the class permission to delay class five more minutes and they sat still (texting!) while I went out the lecture hall’s back door and stood at the glass door entrance to the building.

It was a complete and almost perfect flashback to the day I stood in the door of another building on this same campus ten years ago, waiting for Marvin. An ache twisted itself into a knot so badly that by the time Carol dashed into the building apologizing I was nearing a panic attack.

When she appeared I hugged her, then put my arm around her and walked her into the room while just this once pretending to not notice students putting away their cellphones that they compulsively pulled out to fill the empty minute or two.

“Don’t ever be late. You gave me an awful scare, a Marvin scare,” I told her.

“Nothing will happen to me,” she said as she took off her jacket and settled into translating. 

I believed her enough to let it go.

Because class was already starting “strange” I took a risk too, and told the class about my student with perfect attendance who was never late and never missed class named Marvin Scott.
A sadness fell over the room, one that didn’t settle, because I told my students—in case I hadn’t told them before—that I was writing a book for Marvin, using their bloopers, and it would fund scholarships at TCC. I wasn’t sure when I’d be done, or exactly how I’d take care of this (Sallie Mae has to be handled too), but I told them my grief for Marvin made my heart grow bigger so I didn’t take any of them for granted.

That satisfied the room, and after that I went into my lecture on the early Cold War.

 And after class—when I should have been writing Marvin’s book, and I felt guilty for not writing Marvin’s book—I wrote and posted a blog called “Point Your Guns at Carol” and laughed.
Point Your Guns at CarolOne way—just one, of course—to teach the Cold War concept of “containment” is to pretend your translator is the dreaded manifestation of the enemy—communism. Move the classroom furniture around and surround the translator, shouting “Don’t expand!!! NOOO!!” while pointing overhead projectors and finger guns at him or her.

Then, while you are acting all crazy, shout out, “Who wants some money?” to your wide-eyed class.
This is an excellent time to discuss the “Marshall Plan,” the “Berlin Candy Drop” and then NATO.
f they say yes (and believe me, they’ll say yes, especially the ones who are never in class and are so lost they aren’t even taking notes) tell them to point their “finger guns” at your translator if they are your real allies.
 Believe it or not, a few students will make guns. Usually a guy in the back stands up, as if relieved to finally be called into action.

While students are laughing at the translator translating the entire scenario, you race around the room all panicked saying something like ”Contain her! Contain her! POINT YOUR GUNS AT CAROL. SHE’S COMMUNISM AND SHE’S SPREADING LIKE SMALLPOX!! We will go to WAR to STOP WAR. There will BE NO MORE WAR. Now KEEP POINTING YOUR GUNS AT CAROL.”
Usually, at this point, your students will decide they might like the Cold War.

Your interpreter will probably a little traumatized, though.

Professor Files
Grambling Men and Pretty Women
A lot of fathers were staying out all night drinking and grambling up there money at soolans. After a while a lot of women started having lots of babys. Women wanted to go out and get jobs but men thought that it was women’s job to stay home and look pretty and take care of
Battle of Wounded Knee (Not)
….battle between the Southern states that led to the Spanish American War.
The Many Oceans of Cuba
During the time of going out west a journalist (I think?) Mahan says we need a 2 ocean fleet, so we want Cuba.
Imagine You Didn’t Study “Open Door Note”
Open Door Note: The notion that we will never fully close a door to others that we might need help from later. To leave the option open if in the future a country will be able to help us.
O? Henry?
The first picture is a famous general, I think his name was Henry.
Secret Communist History of the Spanish-American War
When the Dictator of Cuba first established communism in Cuba, Reconcentrado camps were where Cubans were sent by the government if they wanted to escape communism. In return, they didn’t escape but died there in the camps. Starvation and other unsanitary issues were going on.
Rough Riders of the Sea
Rough Riders: volunteer cavalry for the US and the only war they fought was near Cuba
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Wars
Once the Americans see pictures with women being half naked, they become concerned about war.
Yellow Journalism, Polished
Hearst says to the Spaniards, “if you polish the picture, I’ll polish the war.”
An Island by Any Other Name…
Don’t know much about this. Didn’t even know we had a test today really but I know the US controlled Guantanamo and it is a key for our military and prison folks. Isn’t Puerto Rico part of the US now?