Thursday, May 7, 2009

Welcome Back Mr. Leiken

I return to school on Thursday.

My chest aches and it's hard to take a deep breath.   
Bah, I can handle it.   

Did the Black Knight in Monty Python and The Holy Grail quit after he lost both his arms and legs?   Hell no!   Did Jack stop telling Rose that the loved her after he was freezing his cajones off in the North Atlantic?  Hell no!    

Did the Terminator ever give up?  Hell no!  (Until it got crushed by that steam pressure thing.)

On the way to work I pick up my ritualistic large cup of coffee.

I've been gone three days, it feels like two weeks.   I find a note from Ms. Owens on my desk wishing me well, and more importantly, a pair of Reeses Peanut Butter cups.   Maybe I should get sick more often?

Juiliet enters, looking relieved that I'm back.  She normally hangs out with me in the morning, either to catch up on homework, surf the internet, or complain about how much South East "sucks".   Today she's just happy I've returned.

"Don't die mister."

"I'll try."

More students enter.  Your back Mr. Leiken, your back!   We heard you had swine flu, are you contagious?

I hold my hand over my mouth and "cough" on a few of my more troublesome students.  They squirm in their seats, for the first time their good all year.

"WE missed you Mr. Leiken!"

"Man, am I glad your back Leiken!"

"We love you Mr. Leiken!"

I hold up my hands.  "I know."

"You can't die until we graduate, sir.  Who else is going to help us?"

I tell my class why I was out, relate my hospital adventure for the tenth time in 3 days.   I explain to them that while I'm back, if they give me a hard time or make my blood pressure rise for even an instant, they're gone.  

The class is amazingly productive.  For once, everyone is working.

I should definitely get sick more often.

That's when the coffee hits - my pulse starts racing, I feel ill all over again.   My aide sadly shakes his head.   "I told you Leiken, you have acid reflux.  You are going to have to give up the coffee."


"Then get used to a life time of pain."

By noon home is looking pretty good.

The majority of the teachers tell me I should have taken more time off.   Duran shakes his head. "Y'know Mr. Leiken, the school can always replace you, but your family can't.  Why are you back so soon?"

Hell if I know.  Bored, I guess.

Students slip into my room throughout the day, curious to know if I'm okay.   I tell them I'm fine, but I'm not 100%.   They tell me I should have stayed at home.

By the end of the day I collect my get well tribute.

One origami rose, made out of white paper signed with an anonymous  "We Love Leiken."

One get well poster, signed by the comedy club.  The poster has a drawing of me looking stressed next to a torso of "pirate booty."   The other comedy club members are also sketched onto the poster.

One pair of Reeses Peanut Butter Cups.

One get well heart shaped card.

One headache, courtesy of my more annoying students.

One upset stomach and racing pulse, courtesy large cup of cheap black coffee.

On Friday I call out again.   

It's the most time I've taken off in almost 5 years.

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