Wackily-named film director, McG, is making a biopic of Shel Silverstein, but that’s not important right now. What’s important is the story this recent news unlocked from my brain.
There is a dark period in my life that I do not talk about. I’ve never discussed it with my wife, my parents, my friends—anybody! Let’s call said period my "Student Teaching Days" (dun-dun-DUN!!!). I don’t talk about this time, because it is a dark time in my life that I’ve mostly shackled and tossed into the deepest recesses of my brain never to be ruminated upon, considered or reexamined ever, ever again. I do, however, have a humorous and troubling story from that time in my life that needs to be shared, and it is vaguely related to Shel Silverstein.
I can’t even remember what year I was doing the student teaching portion of my graduate school work anymore, but I do know that I was pretty much as bald as I am now. I was better about shaving my head on a regular basis, but very rarely took a straight razor to it as the electric razor seemed to do the trick. I also fluctuated, as I do now, between goatee and full beard. I pretty much looked like I do now, only skinnier because I was smoking a lot—stress and general self-hatred will do that to a boy—and, therefore, not eating a lot. As a visual aid, I have included a picture of Shel Silverstein. As you can see, we do not look alike at all, though we do sport the same “bald head, awesome beard” look. This is how I looked when the following interaction went down.
I was in the hallway of a high school that shall remain unnamed—I don’t want all of you traveling there trying to find some rare Mr. Lawson memorabilia to sell on eBay or whatever—and I walked by a woman, in her early-50’s and I assume a teacher, who stopped me and said, “You know who you look like?”
I hate—nay, despise!—when people do this because I’m always told I look like some fat guy with glasses they’ve seen. It’s endlessly irritating because I don’t look at myself and think “fat” is the first thing people notice (I’ve always assumed it’s my facial hair, which I've maintained steadily from the day I graduated high school). Anyway, that’s what she says.
“No. Who?” I responded.
“Who do you look like?” she says to herself, her eyes focused downward in concentration, her brow furrowed. “Who do you look like?”
Why did you even start this? I thought to myself, but waited patiently for the inevitable fat guy.
Then she says this aloud—to herself, but loud enough for me to hear: “No, not Hitler.”
This is not a bit. Should I have started with that? I need you to understand that this happened. These exact words, this exact moment. This is a conversation that happened between two adult people in a high school hallway.
She looked at me. “Who’s the guy that wrote those poems?”
Well, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t Hitler, I thought. He’s not really known for his poetry. “I don’t know.” I was officially tired of this conversation and wanted only to smoke until the day, the week, my horrible life was over.
“Oh! Shel Silverstein! You look like Shel Silverstein!”
“I don’t know what he looks like,” I responded, my mouth a thin line, my eyes dead. I could’ve sucked down three cigarettes by now, you idiot.
“You look like him.”
And like that, it was over. We parted ways, never to meet again.
So, are you guys looking forwarded to the Shel Silverstein biopic? Let me know in the comments!