I smoke a cigarette before class. I find someplace quiet, shaded and away from school and I light up. It’s a ritual really. I think that if I don’t do it, my class will go horribly wrong. That they’ll act like monsters. Mickey and Donald will get into a fight. Queenie will shit her pants. Yoyo will drop dead. In case you don’t believe me, I’m using real names.

Alright, I’m pretty sure those things won’t happen but it’s a good excuse. More than anything, I smoke because it’s bad. “Bad” as in badass. Yes, I realize it’s bad for your health and therefor stupid but that doesn’t really bother me. You see, I only smoke one cigarette and before class. I don’t smoke in real life. Why? It’s bad for you.

I used to smoke three packs a week twelve years ago. I stopped that after it started to get in the way of my running. You can’t run when you’re wheezing. That, and I was starting to develop a little gut. I’m gay so having even a little gut is a no-no. I’m aware that there are overweight gays, but I guarantee you they’re eating hotdogs because they can’t eat dick. It’s a terrible cycle. “I’m fat. No guy will let me suck his dick. I’ll eat a hotdog instead. Oh no! Now I’m even fatter!”

I’m a good teacher. That means that for however long I’m with my kids, they are learning and I am bouncing off the walls with positive energy, enthusiasm and unbridled glee. I’m a firm believer in rewards so I split the class three ways and then make learning a competition. The team that has the most right answers that day will win a lollipop, a candy bar or a cookie. I know some people really dislike this method of teaching but it works. Kiss my ass.

The problem with all this wave of joy bullshit is that it makes me feel like a cheese ball, a fraud, an idiot. I’m a polite do-gooder. I pick up litter, open doors, overtip, chitchat with cashiers, vote Democrat, etc. But I also carry grudges, am terribly vindictive, imagine killing those that have wronged me when I run, am a complete bitch if things don’t go my way, and am Lady Macbeth to my partner’s Macbeth. He accuses me of making him think others are out to get him. I say, “They are. Don’t be a fucking moron. Now this is what you’re going to do. Are you listening to me GOD DAMN IT!? Don’t fuck this up!”

So I smoke before teaching to remind myself that although I’m about to be all sunshine, lollipops and unicorn horns, I’m also shadows, razors and mutilated Care Bears. It all balances out in the end. I hope.