For those of you who know who David Sedaris is, I thought you might want to know that I have been reading his short stories to my ninth and tenth grade English classes. The response that I have recieved from the students is one that I could have never for seen. Not in my most wide-eyed imagination could I have imagined the effects that David Sedaris’s various short stories could have upon a very simple and conservative high school in Richmond, California. I am inclined to think that the worst is yet to come.
After I read my students the first short story from David Sedaris’s collection of short stories that is entitled “Naked,” the response was one of disbelief. The students thought that David was a “weirdo,” but for some reason they wanted to hear more. We discussed the nature of repression and the daily prohibitions that are set up to restrict their youthful minds from traveling into certain “inappropriate” terrains. After I read them a second short story the feelings shared by all the students were mutual- David Sedaris was writing about things that they thought about but were not allowed to talk about- or else they would get grounded or kicked out of school. After I read my students the short story entitled “Cyclops”- the students were hooked. The forces of liberation were spun into action and there was money being placed into my hands by students who begged me to buy them a copy of this book.
I was apprehensive. I did not mind reading these stories out loud in class, but I felt that buying them copies which they would own, might be taking to great of a risk. Not only could this action set in motion the early corruption of young conditioned minds but also if the administration found out that I was buying students David Sedaris books I may loose my job. So I photo copied various stories for students and soon these photo copies were selling for ten dollars a piece on the underground high school black market. Students tried every which way to steal the copy of the original book from my bag and a couple of times they were successful and I had to chase them down. A fever had become full blown and the cause of it was David Sedaris.
I have had to stop reading these stories to students. I feel my job may be in jeopardy. Since I started reading the stories more students have been expelled from school than in the entire history of the school. Students have started smoking and drinking booze while at school. They have also been running around the school with various articles of clothing taken off while screaming ridiculous things at the top of their young lungs. Students have started swearing at Teachers more and one Teacher quit because students would not stop asking her what her vagina smelled and looked like. I am afraid that every thing that these young minds have had to repress in order to stay in school and not get into trouble at home has come out with such passionate force because of David Sedaris’s short stories. These stories have unlocked something primordial in these students that has even caused one of my best students to rip off her shirt in the middle of class and scream, “Teacher, lets get naked!”
Like my students, I am also subjected to a good dose of unhealthy repression. In order to maintain a legitimate position in society one has little choice unless they are wealthy and or famous. So I keep my sins mostly to myself and hope that my lusts and desires will simply drown under the mass of cerebral tissue that keep them hidden beneath. But when my student ripped off her shirt and yelled out “lets get naked,” something primordial within me exploded and I to experienced a coming out that had a force and volition that not even I could apprehend. “What the hell, why not!!” I screamed out with a feeling of freedom that I had not felt since I was young. I then proceeded to rip off my clothes as my entire tenth grade English class joined me and got naked.