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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Funny (10/04/12)

TITLE: Whiteboard Arms
By Phee Paradise


Today I feel old. I part my hair with my fingers to reveal gray roots and wonder if a lighter color will hide them longer. I dot extra wrinkle cream around my eyes before turning away from the mirror. In the bedroom I try on a ten year old blouse, hoping it will make me look younger. But the sleeves are tight, so I put on my old lady teacher clothes and fill my travel cup with high test coffee. Im usually eager to get to class, but today I need extra buttressing to face twenty-five ten year olds.

When the bell rings they come in chattering and laughing, tiring me before they even take their seats. Arithmetic quiets them, and I see the familiar glazed looks that appear when I say words like fractions and percent. They perk up during social studies when we play a game with the names of major rivers. We move on to language arts and they want more fun, but I dont have the energy to organize a spelling bee.

I turn my back to the class and write the spelling words on the board. Thats when the snickering starts. I check the words Ive written, but none are misspelled. Maybe my slip is showing or a lock of hair is sticking out at an awkward angle. I keep writing; generations of fifth graders have hardened me to childish humor. I dont turn around until the volume rises and I hear giggles punctuated by snorts.

Everyone is looking at Alyssa Wagner who is standing by her desk. Her arms rocket down to her sides, but not before I have seen her parody, the fingers of one hand pinching the skin of her underarm. I glare at her and wait for the inevitable gasp and reddening face. Her eyes widen as I begin to stalk between the desks toward her. The room is silent now, but deep inside me a laugh is growing. I savor the terror in her eyes as I keep mine fixed on her. I stop five inches from her petite, young body.

Alyssa Wagner. I emphasize each syllable and wait, keeping my eyes locked on hers. I hope she cant tell how much Im enjoying this.

Yes maam, she manages to whisper.

Put your arm out.


Put your arm out.

She complies. I can see her fingers trembling. Ive never touched a child, but she doesnt know that.

Jiggle your arm. She moves it up and down a little.

Now I raise my arm, displaying the loose skin that hangs under my upper arm. I twist my wrist and the skin sways. Impossibly, Alyssa opens her eyes wider. I hear whispers around us, but Im fighting to hold my frown.

Go ahead and touch it. Im sure you can make it really jiggle.

Her hands shoot down behind her back and she takes a little step backward, shaking her head.

Yes, Alyssa. Im old. My arms jiggle. I have wrinkles. I need glasses to read. My joints hurt and Im getting fat.

As she jerks her head back I finally lose control and let the laugh out. Yes, Im old. But I can still surprise a ten year old. And I still love teaching. Gasping for breath, with tears in my eyes, I finally manage to stop.

Oh, Alyssa. I am old. And you will be too, someday. When your arms jiggle, remember the day you made your teacher laugh. Remember that jiggly arms are funny.

I turn back to the list of words on the board, ignoring the whispers. I dont feel old after all.

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This article has been read 551 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Arlene Showalter10/11/12
this story is GREAT! I think I have a high appreciation for it, being I am nearing the 6th decade of life!! Thanks for a great entry!
Ellen Carr 10/12/12
I enjoyed your teaching tale, especially having done my share of teaching.Teaching is often like acting, as your MC was, in feigning anger. Well written and it rang true.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 10/12/12
This is great. You had me on a roller coaster of emotions and I truly enjoyed it and emphasized with the MC.

I don't read titles very often and I'm so glad I didn't read yours because I think it would have given it away for me and I would have known why the kids were laughing immediately. But since I didn't read it until I started to comment, I enjoyed the speculations that my racing mind went to when trying to guess why the kids were giggling. You did a fantastic job with this and I learned a valuable lesson as my arms too are starting to jiggle and my daughter's wedding is coming up and I'm dreading the pictures. But your story will remind me that jiggly arms are funny. Thank you for that. :)
C D Swanson 10/15/12
This was a great story! I loved it. Nice job with this whole piece.

Thanks. God bless~
Shirley McClay 10/15/12
Really loved this! Seemed very realistic. I would hear enjoyed a teacher like this.
Wilma Schlegel10/18/12
I sat next to the girl in our class who stood up to tease the jiggly-armed teacher. I smile now, decades later, believing that that girl now has jiggly arms too! You handled this teasing magnificently! Very well written story.
Hiram Claudio10/18/12
Congratulations on a great piece and on your 1st place finish!
Genia Gilbert10/18/12
this is great.. I have been out of touch and not read entries the last week, but I love this. I have jiggly arms too! (^_^) Congratulations.
Loren T. Lowery10/18/12
A good lessen from a great teacher. Humor, such a great healer. Congratulations, really enjoyed the story and what it reveals about life in general.
Myrna Noyes10/18/12
As a former teacher and a woman with arms probably preparing to jiggle, I could empathize with your MC! :) Thanks for the laugh and the lesson contained in this well-written piece! Also, CONGRATULATIONS on your 2nd place E.C. and your level win! Great job!
Noel Mitaxa 10/18/12
Congratulations on your win, and God bless you in Masters and beyond.
Leola Ogle 10/18/12
Great job, Phee! Congrats!
Danielle King 10/19/12
I thought you were describing my own early morning horror! This is great. Congratulations!
Bea Edwards 10/19/12
Superbly written story about the humor we women should, but don't always have when dealing with getting old. Sometimes it seems like a battle I may win smiling, while other times I simply want to cry about the odd wrinkles, sags and wiggles appearing in the mirror.
Thanks for this wonderful reminder about perspective!
C D Swanson 10/19/12
Congrats. God Bless~