The cheeky student
My students' weird outfits seldom surprise me very much. Young people adopt and abandon various fads with cheerful nonchalance. The bare-midriff craze seems to have run its course. Either the girls got tired of the draftiness or no longer feel obligated to display tattoos on the small of their backs. And the boys have grown weary of pulling their jeans down and exposing their boxers.
Well, most of them have. A few latent exhibitionists continue to sublimate their urges by allowing their trousers to sag around their thighs. I had one in a recent math class. He liked to sit in the back of the room, which was just as well, except for the occasion when it turned out to be an awkward choice.
Usually, when I have papers to return, I call out the students' names and hand them back one by one. It would be a little easier and faster to just toss them on the side table and have the students pick them up for themselves, but I prefer to invest the couple of minutes it takes to return the papers individually, reinforcing my recollection of their names (occasionally a challenge in a forty-student class) and adding a bit of a personal touch. Anyway, my students often need the time to settle down for class, since it apparently takes an incredible number of keystrokes to turn off their cell phones before those devices shut down. (Some of my students even need to keep pulling them back out of their pockets to fiddle with them further. How inconvenient for them!)
On the day in question, “Carl” was taking his ease in the back row when I called his name. He sauntered down the center aisle up to my lectern to take the graded quiz I was holding out for him. One of the girls suddenly shrieked.
“Carl! Oh, my God!”
Carl spun around to look at her, making clear to me the reason for his classmate's outburst. His boxers were torn in the back from waistband down to as far as the eye could see (which was pretty far) before they finally ducked inside his pants. There was serious cleavage. Carl stood stock-still for several seconds, trying to process what was going on. Finally a classmate removed all confusion.
“Your underwear, dude. It's torn wide open!”
Carl spasmodically snatched at his jeans and jerked them up to his waist. The full moon vanished from sight. He hobbled back to his desk with his self-induced wedgie and plopped into his seat. The class calmed down and we got to work on some actual math, although it was several minutes before the glances toward Carl and the intermittent giggles died out completely.
For the rest of the semester, for some reason, Carl decided that low-hanging pants were so over.