So I’m sitting at my dad’s computer, plugging entries into Quickbook in an effort to reconcile my checkbook. Bored out of my mind, I decide that downloading sample biology midterms must be far more thrilling. Along comes my cousin, Ahbid, equally bored out of his mind after having spent the entire evening helping out with the yardwork, at my dad’s command, of course.
“Whatchu doin’?” he asks, flopping onto the daddy-o’s bed.
“Downloading biology exams. Exciting, ain’t it?”
He groans. “Why are you taking a biology class? What’s wrong with you? I took one of those in high school. We had to dissect a frog, so I picked the nerdiest kid in the class. I pointed at him, and was like, ‘Hey, you, you’re my partner.’ So he did all the work, and every time the teacher came around to our table, I just kinda poked at the frog, to look like I was busy. She was like, ‘Wow, Ahbid, good job, you’re showing wonderful improvement!'”
Ahbid just graduated from high school in June. At his graduation ceremony, it took us seemingly forever to find him amongst the sea of graduating faces in the stands. After all, his graduation was held at the freakin’ baseball stadium. Imagine that. But his cocky walk down to receive his diploma was distinctively him, as were the smug grins he flashed at all our cameras afterwards. After his two-hour session of endless, although stomach-crampingly hilarious, stories the other night, I’m starting to wonder how this boy even managed to graduate in the first place. I wish I had tape-recorded the entire conversation, because he’s a damn funny storyteller and this post isn’t going to do him justice.
A few of the highlights:
– On biology:
“So we had this student teacher for biology. This was sophomore year. He was a college student. His last name was Stauffer, so we were supposed to call him Mr. Stauffer, but someone decided to call him ‘Stopper,’ and it stuck. [I raise an eyebrow.] Uh uh, not me. I didn’t come up with the ‘Stopper’ thing. I just harassed him about the whole backpack issue.
“I used to get kicked out of classes all the time, so one day I came in and it was his first day. I figured I was ’bout to get kicked out soon anyway, so why even bother taking off my backpack. So I sat at my desk with my backpack on, and he goes, ‘Take off your backpack.’ I was like, ‘No.’ He was like, ‘Take off your backpack. I was like, ‘Why does it bother you so much, huh?’ He was like, ‘Take it OFF. NOW.’ ‘No.’ ‘Get out. GO.’ He had this one vein from the top of his forehead to his eyebrow, and whenever I pissed him off, his face would get all red and the vein would start pounding. It looked like a worm.
“He used to come in right from class, so he’d always have his own backpack on, too. So I was like, ‘You take off your backpack, Stopper.’ He be like, ‘No. I don’t want to.’ Sometimes, when I really wanted to piss him off, I’d be like, ‘Okay, Stopper, I’m putting my backpack back on now!’ The other kids in the class started doing it, too, leaving their backpacks on.
“Oh, and the shoes. My shoelaces would get untied, so I’d sit there moving my feet around, banging my shoes against the floor, making all this noise, and it’d drive Stopper crazy. He’d be like, ‘Mr. Khan, tie your shoelaces.’ I’d be like, ‘No.’ ‘GET OUT!'” He started watching me all the damn time. It got to the point where if I so much as sneezed, he thought I was ’bout to make a smartass comment, so he’d be like, ‘GET OUT!’ and kick me out of class.
“I was doing hella bad in that class. I failed all the tests, cuz I never knew the answers, so I’d sit there and color in the bubbles to form diamond patterns. Or I’d make a cartoon out of the bubbles. Stopper hated it. When I walked in to take the final exam, he was like, ‘Why don’t you just turn around and go back home, Mister.’ I was like, ‘No, I’m here to take the final, man.’ He was all pissed: ‘This is a waste of a perfectly good scantron! I catch you making any diamonds, and you’re out of here!’ I aced the final and got a C in the class.”
– On French:
“The student teacher for my French class, she was really young, like 26 or something, but from her face she looked like the mom from the Brady Bunch. The first day, she sat down and was like, ‘Hi, so I’m from New Jersey, andâ€¦’ I was like, ‘Get on with it. We don’t need to hear your whole life story. Aren’t you supposed to be teaching us, or something?’ She gave me a big ol’ dirty look.
“Okay, so we had this thing called ‘pay moi,’ which means, ‘pay me.’ Basically, the teacher would take away five points from a student if we were misbehaving or something. So, on the second day, the student teacher went around to check off the homework. I mean, who the hell assigns homework on the first day of school?! So I didn’t do it. And she was like, ‘One pay moi.’ I was like, ‘WHAT? You don’t get a pay moi for homework!’ She goes, ‘There’s a second pay moi.’ I was like, ‘What the HELL?’ She goes, ‘Third pay moi.’ ‘Sh*t.‘ ‘Fourth pay moi.’ ‘Oh my Godâ€¦.’ ‘Fifth pay moi.’ ‘Argggghhhhhhhâ€¦.’ ‘Sixthâ€¦’ It just went on like that. The next day, she called me in at lunchtime and started crying about it, cuz she felt bad or something, I guess. I was like, ‘First of all, I’m at like negative forty points in this class, for no reason, and it’s only the third day. Second, you make me come in on my lunch break. And now, you’re crying. What’s wrong with you? I’m leaving.”
– On English:
“My English teacher was short and round. I used to call her ‘Oompa Loompa.’ Once, I kept asking her how long she was gonna keep teaching at the school for. She wouldn’t answer the question. She was just like, ‘Oh, I don’t knowâ€¦’ Finally, she got all nervous and goes, ‘Wait, you’re not planning on having children, are you, Ahbid?'”
– On his infamous reputation, part I:
“We weren’t allowed to wear hats and hoods at school. It was a security measure, cuz they wanted to make sure no strangers were wandering around campus. Even if they didn’t know all our names, they knew us all by face, so as long as they could see our faces, it was cool. One day, I was walking around with my jacket hood on, and this guy came up to me and was like, ‘Okay, Ahbid, I need you to remove your hood. It’s against school policy.’ I was like, ‘Man, it’s raining, I’m not ’bout to take off my hood. And who are you anyway, and how do you know my name?’ He ended up walking me straight to the office because I wouldn’t take off the hood.
“I asked the lady at the office, ‘Who was that, and how does he know my name?’ She was like, ‘Oh, that’s Mr. _____.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, but how does he know me?’ She just looks at me and goes, ‘Students like you are the main focal point of teacher meetings.’ I was like, ‘WHAT? You mean, you have teacher meetings and buy fifty dollars worth of food because you need to be entertained, and then you talk about me, instead of talking about school supplies or the size of the hallway or how ugly the school is? You guys talk about ME? What’s wrong with you people?'”
– On his infamous reputation, part II:
“We had to check in with our counselors towards the end of senior year, so I went in to see mine. At the end of the meeting, she looked at me all serious and goes, ‘Ahbid, ninety-nine percent of the teachers here are glad to hear you’re leaving. I just thought I’d let you know.’ I was like, ‘WHAT? They SAID that?’ She was like, “Yes. Just like that.’ ‘BACKSTABBERS!’ So at graduation, every teacher that looked over at me, I gave ’em a dirty look back, like, ‘I know it, you’re one of those ninety-nine percent, arenâ€™t you?'”
– On unsuccessful guilt trips:
“You and Yaser lalaji thoughâ€¦” he says, referring to Somayya‘s older brother, “You two never helped me with anything! Some cousins you are. Ruthless, both of you.” Obviously he has forgotten the many times he instant-messaged me, using me for my math tutoring skills, asking, “Hey, do you know how to find the surface area of a rectangle?” And the time I sat there at Somayya’s kitchen table, laying out the entire plot summary of To Kill a Mockingbird for him. And the time I was supposed to tutor him back when I was in sixth grade, but instead we all sat around watching cartoons and he and my brother gulped down pancakes as their after-school snack of choice. Yeah.
What else to say about a cousin with whom one used to have AIM conversations like the following:
A: I’m just playin’ around, don’t cry
A: just kidding
Yasmine: uh, the yaz doesn’t cry
A: the yaz?
A: well the bob doesn’t either
A: or the ahaabieb
A: or the abied
A: or the albert
A: we all don’t cry
I love this kid. What a smartass.