Teachers are a funny lot. Some of my colleagues here at McLingua:

1. Burroughs. A late 60s American from Mormon country, a Nam & teaching veteran with a wonky right hip and a nice line in camp innuendo. He likes sharing filthy sexual jokes with me. He shuffles despondently about the school in his tracksuits and t-shirts, moaning “are we having fun yet?” and “oh God, here again”, “I deserve better than this” and “why am I still alive?”, however he lights up upon human contact, especially if there’s the potential for sexual innuendo. Whenever i complain about teaching too much, or teaching people i hate, he croaks: “well, we all put out for money, don’t we?” A cool guy.

2. Hayes. A bear of a man from New Jersey, bearded, crazy, and ample. He’s a rock musician and, to my surprise, good. i put together a kind-of interview with him, and mean to publish it here sometime. He has about ten dogs, mostly it seems rescued from abusive owners. Every teacher should have several dogs, even if they’re only in his head. His website is here and you can download an album for a fiver on itunes. Hayes seems like one of those affable, bearded high school teachers, the kind everyone likes and the parents adore, until he unexpectedly explains the difference between crack and cocaine and goes on to relate the time Richard Pryor ran past his house, his head on fire after cooking up crack. A sample lyric from Hayes:

Let’s go to Vegas and not Vietnam

Take in a show, maybe Celine Dion

We’ll die and go to heaven

When she sings the Titanic Song

3. Toddball. A tubby, jovial American, my age but seems much younger. He’s one of those smooth-faced all-American guys who, it turns out, has watched every film worth watching, studied Art History in Florence, speaks Italian, etc. A typical conversation:

me: Why did you leave America? Did you kill someone?

Toddball: Nearly. I was very drunk and ran someone over.

me: Jesus. Did you kill him?

Toddball: I’m not sure. I tried to drive off but I was prevented by a gang of angry Puerto Ricans. They were all shouting, ‘hey you just ran this guy over!’ and then he got up and ran away so I don’t know if he lived or not. Maybe he curled up in an alley somewhere, and died slowly, alone.

He doesn’t read anything but speaks as i imagine an Elizabethan Londoner would, schooled by seeing the plays of Webster, Shakespeare, Marlowe, Jonson, except in Toddball’s case it’s the cinema of Michael Mann and Wes Anderson. He unselfconsciously says things like: “if we do this real slick, no one gets hurt and we come out ahead.”

4. The rapist. A 50-something Londoner, one of the few Brits here. He’s fat, balding, usually wears a suit, and talks like an East End crook trying to pass himself off as a businessman. His voice and manner is a little strange, because he’s made a not wholly convincing effort to cover up his naturally bestial nature. He taught in Japan for 15 years but left for vague reasons, no doubt rape-related. When he came to Munich last summer he had little work, while Toddball (who arrived at the same time) got 40 hours a week. i tried to suggest other schools, but nothing seemed to come of them (he got one job at a car company but stormed out after a student said he was going on a business trip for 5 weeks; he apparently shouted: “what about me, then? What am I supposed to do for 5 weeks!”)

i tried to help him when he came but began to back away when i realised he hated almost everyone in McLingua. For example, of Burroughs he said viciously: “that fucking fag Burroughs gets all this fucking work an’ I don’t get nothing, mate! He should be fucking retired, not taking my work!” (i tried to explain that Burroughs has slowly built up a network of students over 30 years, and they WANT Burroughs – the rapist jeered: “darnt gimme that!”); of Hayes he said: “that fucking Hayes, right? Thinks he owns the place, he does”; and Toddball was simply “that cunt”.

He is grotesquely sweet to women, trying to chat up every single potential victim, with a relentless salesman’s patter, even going to the point of buying (or saying he had bought) Valentine’s Day chocolates for a woman 30 years his junior. As soon as their backs are turned he stares fixedly at their asses. Once he gyrated his groin, leering at me and then nodding over to his departing victim. When she was out of sight he said: “Would you do her mate? Would you do her doggy style?”

i’m not one to cast stones but all the same, i shudder somewhat at the disparity between his bland, smiling patter and the purposeful, cold-eyed stare. It is only a matter of time before he commits another rape.

5. Michael. A mid-20s New Yorker, in appearance a brutal, criminal thug; about 5′ 11″ but wide like a troll, with a huge, neanderthal skull. He wears sports clothing and a lurid green baseball cap. He has been in Munich about 3 months and slept with two of the admin staff, three students, and i think at least some of the female teachers. At first i thought he was an idiot – for example, he can’t teach grammar because his own grammar is very limited, and a teacher needs to consult his innate grammar, to consider what sounds right, and WHY. But if you never use the conditionals or Present Perfect, Past Perfect, etc., this is impossible.

However, i’ve come to like him and realise he has a kind of compelling mental or imaginative energy, it’s just not analytical or intellectual. He’s a great story-teller. Just last week he told me the following tale:

“Oh man it’s like a ROCKIN day! I was goin out my flat and I thought, I’m gonna get laid today. With some girl I never fuckin seen before. It’s gonna happen, I can fuckin FEEL it. It’s destiny like God talkin to me and saying, Mike today you will get laid. Thirty fuckin seconds out my door and this girl hands me a leaflet for German sausages. I take it and say, I call this number I get through to you or what the fuck? And she says no. So I THREW IT TO THE GROUND and said, baby, I got my own sausage right here, you can taste it RIGHT NOW. And she goes like, ugh you’re sick! I laughed and then I swear, fuckin thirty seconds later another girl does the exact same fuckin thing with some other shit, and I try to get her number and she just walks off. Ha! Then I’m in the university quarter and there’s this fuckin guy with some fuckin t-shirt, it says, right here, “fuck you”. Wrong fuckin thing to wear today. I go up to him and shout, right in his fuckin face: “FUCK YOU” [jabbing his finger for added effect]. And he’s like, was was was was? So I’m like, hey, it’s your t-shirt bro’, and he says like ohhhhh, then I shouted again FUCK YOU in his face.”

Words can only do so much here. Imagine an enormous, criminal troll, dressed in fluorescent green sports clothing, lunging at you and screaming FUCK YOU while jabbing a finger at your chest, and you get the idea. To continue:

“Then I’m walkin down the fuckin street and I hear some girl go, hey cutie! So I whip round and say, who said that? Who the fuck said that? And there’s these three black girls, giggling. So I walk over and say, hey, I don’t chase girls – they chase me. So chase me. And I walk off.”

There was more but this post is already too long. Today I met Michael and he told me he ended up brawling with four bouncers on Saturday. He has a slightly swollen eye, “not bad” as he put it, given the fight ended with him on the ground with four bouncers kicking him in the head and torso. By his own account he knocked one out and slugged another in the guts. He seemed quite cheerful about it all.

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