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4 Ways to Prepare for Parent-Teacher Night (For Non-Parents)

Proving Yourself

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I decided to approach the rest of the night as life skill-building. If you can crash Parent Teacher Night, you can crash a wedding, a Bar Mitzvah, a porn shoot, anything. As the pizza dwindled and the gym cleared out, I headed out into the halls looking for Roop's classroom. Time she was a-wasting, and if Roop's real parents cared enough to show up then wouldn't I look like the racially confused idiot who may require a police escort out of the building?

The grade 7 classroom was still closed, but I did catch sight of a few parents milling about. It seemed risky. Time to head to Davis' classroom. I saw the teacher through the doorway at his desk, kind of sad and alone, a rail thin man with that look a person gets when they realize their life is never going to get any better than it already is. His hair looked like pubes, which was immediately fascinating to me.

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Keep it short 'n' wiry, just like my ma.

"Hi, I'm John Welland." He held out his hand catching sight of me as I entered. I took two steps and realized the room was not empty. Three families were looking over class projects on the far side of the room, including Davis and a short man who looked far too much like Vin Diesel for it to be coincidence. Do people intentionally model themselves after Vin Diesel? Shaved head, tight knit v-neck white shirt, black jeans. And maybe 5-foot-3-inches. Spooky. But there were more pressing issues at hand. Who the fuck was I?

"I think I'm I the wrong classroom," I said with a laugh. Yes, that was reasonable.

"Oh, who are you looking for?"

"Mrs. Denton." That dirty old slattern. She would bear the brunt of my poorly planned night on the town. Johnny offered up the correct room number and returned to looking sad and alone despite being in a room with three families. I bet he touches himself while watching HBO.

Accepting Defeat

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What was I looking to accomplish tonight? Low grade fraud, free pizza, something funny to relate in prose form. What had I accomplished? Even lower grade fraud, shitty pizza and this. I didn't feel like a winner. I felt like Icarus. I had this majestic, yet ill-formed plan and the reality was more than my fantasy could have ever allowed for, instead sending me tumbling into a pile of suspicious Mrs. Dentons on wings of farty pepperoni.

I had an incline that I could try Roop's class one more time and then quickly dismissed it. No, Felix Clay was probably not going to pull off a Marlon Brando-esque performance this evening that would convince an English major who had no clue what to do with her life, thus she settled on teaching in a fit of desperation that I was the father of an Indian boy. Likely I'd only succeed in getting that police escort I'd mentioned earlier.

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Mmm, it's strip search time.

With a heavy heart I made my way from the school and headed home. I had failed. At best I third-succeeded. In terms of desperate hunger I knew I could always get a meal from hence forth if I just showed up somewhere and spoke like I belonged there, but this was about more than being a cheap glutton or some kind of sociopathic snacker. This was about needless and bizarre deception, and on that count I was batting all zeroes. I was a ball player who didn't user performance-enhancing substances, thus letting down my team and, in a way, the world. And you. You, my fellows who came here to enjoy my hijinks and found that my jinks were as low as a turd in the grass.

So why write this article at all? Because embracing failure is what made me the man I am today. A willingness to watch success ride away with a hot girl while I sit alone in failure's tepid puddle of musky-smelling waste is the cornerstone of who I am. And of any good adventurer. You can't win all the time and while the sun shine's on a dog's ass some days, most days it's just a shitty dog's ass, and that's OK.

If I had a moral to impart here, a lesson if you will, it's a stronger one than I was able to share after attending that orgy, or eating those gross foods. Sometimes you have a shitty idea, and it just won't work. Sometimes you want to pretend to own a handful of strange children just for the purposes of making yourself laugh one night. And it won't work. But that's OK. Failure is OK. Because maybe tomorrow you'll put a sex ad on Craigslist to see how gross people are in their replies, and that will be your next article, and it will work. You know, if you write articles.

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Felix Clay

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