Category Archives: Bubby Spamden

A Focus on Faces

Today’s post comes from Bubby Spamden, a perennial sophomore at Wendell Willkie High School.

Hey Mr. C.,

Now that it’s spring and all, people at Willkie have really started to talk seriously about what jobs they want to have when they’re all graduated from school.

This is the thing that our parents keep telling us we should think about all the time, but they must not remember being fifteen at all because there is so much more to worry about – really important stuff like “was Ashley looking at me this morning over the top of her book?” and “do I have something gross stuck to my face?”

Anyway, there are lots of people who want to be movie stars and rock stars and sports stars, like that’s really a thing you can be. And then there are the more practical ones, who say they want to be accountants and engineers and software coders.

But I saw something the other day that I thought would be a really cool job and I totally didn’t know anybody could do this – I want to be a face researcher so I can spend my time thinking about really important questions like why do we have chins?

I didn’t carefully read the article where I saw this because it was so long! (I want to spend my time looking at faces, not fighting my way through all those words, words, words!) But I think I get the basics.

Humans have chins because evolution is making our faces shrink!

Wow!  Yes! It turns out our chins are slower to change than the rest of our heads when it comes to right-sizing, evolution-style. That’s weird!

So I want to find a University somewhere that has a major in Body Part Studies.

I think that would be incredibly cool because that’s sort of what everybody does in college anyway, but I’d be getting credit for it! And we’ll need more trained body part experts, because everything is changing.

I figure evolution is going to keep doing its thing. So the human face of the future will probably have even less chin, and this will mean huge changes in everything, especially in professional sports like horse racing and the NFL where they have to use chin straps to keep their hats on.

Enter me, the Highly Esteemed Face Researcher!

As America’s top face scholar, I’ll have plenty of work to do, giving my opinion about faces of all kinds!  I’d love to do the American version of a contest they had in Britain a few years ago to find the Most Beautiful Face.  Florence Colgate, call me!

And if my focus on the face doesn’t pan out, I’ll just shift my research to another body part that’s getting more attention.

I hear booties are big, but not big enough!

Your pal,

Even though I’m extremely reluctant to discourage the dreams of the young, I told Bubby I’m skeptical that he’ll be able to assemble the right credentials to ascend to the post of America’s Leading Face Researcher. After all, it’s hard to become recognized as an expert in anything when every other person already thinks they’re an expert in the same field.

Kind of like being a writer in Hollywood.

But at least he’s showing a hunger for knowledge, as long as it doesn’t require too much reading.

In what area would you like to gain some expertise?

Look, Up In The Sky!

Today’s post comes from perennial sophomore Bubby Spamden, a permanent 10th grader at Wendell Willkie High School.

Hey, Mr. C.,

We got to talking about the future in Mr. Boozenporn’s class today. He says it’s going to be amazing, and that we’re not going to appreciate it because we haven’t had any handicaps like the ones he had when he was growing up, such as a closet full of ’70’s fashions.

I really do like these days when we can get Mr. B talking about himself – it’s SO educational even though some of my classmates think it’s super boring. But Mr. B has been through a lot, and we’ll all wind up having pretty good lives if we can escape being as disillusioned as him.

To make his point, he showed us two videos. Neither one was listed in the syllabus and he said they won’t be featured on any of the standardized tests we have to take, but they show exactly how things go – you grow up with an impossible dream in your head and then against all odds – it happens! But here’s the catch – when it comes true it’s kinda pale compared to what you had in mind – not nearly as great, literally, but somehow better looking. Weirdly.

His example was the wild idea of a flying car, which he said filled his imagination when he was little.

And now it looks like a Flying Car, or “Supercar”, will really be a real reality someday soon, possibly as early as 2017.

And yet it’s kinda disappointing.

I think the real flying car kinda looks like an insect, which is not too cool-looking compared to the original “Supercar”. But I guess as you get older, you kinda make compromises along the way, which is what makes it possible for those dreams to get a little closer to being true. “But you can see in the ad,” Mr. B said, “that it will only be within reach of paunchy white-haired CEO-type guys like the one in the ad, and not normal people like you and me.”

And I guess that’s the way it turns out most of the time – the best toys go to the folks with all the money, and not to marionettes of kids and monkeys, or schoolteachers.

Your pal,

What childhood dream of yours has come true?

Fixed in Space

Today’s post comes from perennial sophomore Bubby Spamden, forever in the 10th grade at Wendell Willkie High School.

Hey Mr. C.,
Some of my older teachers at Willkie were kind of broken up yesterday when they found out one of their favorite TV characters, Mr. Spock, had died. I think a few of them wanted to cancel school for the rest of the day ’cause they kinda felt like their youth was passing before their eyes.

Mr. Boozenporn seemed to be a little dizzy and weird. He sat at his desk texting friends and muttering “Live Long and Prosper”. While he did that, he made us watch this super-long geek-out video which is nothing but the same pointy-eared guy in funny clothes and a bad haircut saying his TV show lines for almost 15 minutes straight!

So while the video was running, I got out my phone and looked up this Leonard Nimoy character and found out he was really interesting and smart, but he spent pretty much his whole adult life stuck with this character that he played on TV for only 3 seasons and people wouldn’t let him put it behind him. That made me think about how long I’ve been stuck as a sophomore at Willkie and I felt like I understood him pretty good after that.

When he finally started to speak to us again, Mr. B said Spock was his idol. He said his friend Ron worshiped Captain Kirk but Kirk was an over-dramatic goofball whose impulses always got the Enterprise into trouble so dumb luck and Mr. Spock could get them out, and then Kirk got all the girls and the credit, which wasn’t fair.

Mr. B. said he identified with Spock because he was all about logic and science and he wasn’t emotional but people were drawn to him anyway, which was like getting a free pass ’cause you got loved but didn’t have to do any loving back.

Then he got teary-eyed and blurted out some stuff that sounded like apologies to somebody named Arlene. But I kinda think he should’ve apologized to Mr. Nimoy, too.

Your pal,

Are you Spock, or Kirk?

A Sequel With No Equal

Today’s post comes from perennial Sophomore Bubby Spamden, still in the 10th grade at Wendell Willkie High School after 30 years.

Hi Mr. C.,

Well,  my world got totally rocked yesterday when the news came out that Harper Lee’s second book is about to be published.

I’ve been a high school sophomore for about a third of Ms. Lee’s (age 88) life, so I’ve had plenty of chances to read her first book, “To Kill A Mockingbird.”

And by “plenty of chances”, I mean I’ve been forced to read it every October since 1985. And no, the teachers and principals who insist on keeping me back year after year after year are NOT about to cut me any slack when it comes to the reading assignments.

Or the enrichment activities.

I’ve done “To Kill A Mockingbird” storyboards to “demonstrate and extend” my learning. I’ve listed vocabulary words from the book, drawn plot diagrams and character maps, and discussed themes, symbols, and motifs.

I’ve even written a paper discussing “To Kill A Mockingbird” as an archetype of the hero’s journey, and I still don’t know what an archetype is.

There have been thousands of quizzes and hundreds of role-playing exercises. I’ve been Scout, Boo and the angry mob. And I’ve written my own version of Atticus Finch’s closing argument. Seven times.

I hope Ms. Lee knows what a gift this second book will be to 10th graders everywhere, if only because I’m flat-out exhausted with her first one.

I saw Mr. Boozenporn standing outside his room and I told him that if I’m held back again (which I will be), I’m really looking forward to reading “Go Set a Watchman” in his class next Fall, and he just laughed.

“In your spare time, maybe,” is what he said. So I asked him why.

“Oh, I don’t know. Maybe because there are already a gazillion lesson plans built around ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’.  Or maybe because the school has a whole room in the basement just devoted to storing copies of ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’.  Or it might be that your teacher has led a unit on “To Kill a Mockingbird” for forty years and is too old and tired to  do anything about ‘Go Set a Watchman’.”

Then he shrunk back into his room real suspicious-like.   I think he eats raw squirrels in there.

Your pal,

I told Bubby I will never understand how he can be so stuck in the 10th grade, especially now that I know he has read “To Kill a Mockingbird” every Fall for the last 30 years. Doing that alone would be enough to graduate, I’d think, if only for the repeated transfer of wisdom. But I’m no expert when it comes to education. Perhaps he doesn’t test well.

What are some of the books you’ve re-read, and why?

Recruit to Deny Guy

Today’s post comes from Wendell Willkie High School’s perennial sophomore, Bubby Spamden.

Hey Mr. C.,

I admit I’ve been a pest when it comes to passing notes in class to ask girls if they want to go out with me. Usually (always) the answer is “no”, because … well, it just is.

But that’s OK. My feelings don’t get hurt too much ’cause I’ve been in 10th grade for about 20 years and a guy just gets used to things over that much time. Pretty much I just do it out of habit.

Come to think of it, maybe that’s why some of the girls say (behind my back) that I’m creepy. On account of I’m old enough to be boyhood friends with their fathers.

Anyway, we just had a meeting today with Mr. Norton, the guidance counselor, and he told us about an amazing thing colleges are doing that I think is so inspiring, I’m going to start using it in my personal life because it might help me stop feeling like such a loser.

It’s called “recruit to deny”, which describes the practice of sending letters and e-mails and texts to students who the schools know are probably not going to get admitted, hoping to draw an application so they can say “no” and look more selective, meaning “better”.

Like I say – really cool idea.

So here’s what I’m thinking – I’ll change the notes I’m writing to these girls in my class from “Hey, do you want to go out with me sometime?” to something that’s more closer to a college recruiting letter, like “Hey, I’m inviting you to ask me to go out with you. Lots of really super girls have asked me already, and the ones I went out with thought it was one of the greatest educational experiences of their lives! It’ll cost a bunch ’cause of course I’ll want you to buy, but sometimes it takes a few bucks to learn important things about the world.”

I realize not very many will take me up on this offer, but I don’t get many “yeses” as it is. Even if I got just two to ask me out, I could say “yes” to one and “no” to the other. Then I would both have a date AND feel kinda selective and special!

And I wouldn’t feel sorry for the girl I turn down either, because she be the real winner. For obvious reasons!

What do you think?
Your pal,

I told Bubby I found his latest note disturbing on a number of levels. As the oldest high school sophomore in history, it is totally inappropriate for him to be asking classmates out on dates. I’m relieved to hear that no one has taken him up on it. His latest idea to send out insincere invitations and mimic the callous strategy of some colleges to seem more “selective” is simply ludicrous, and I doubt it will bring him anything but sorrow.

On the other hand, it does feel wonderful to be wanted and unobtainable, so I get where he’s coming from.

When has turning down an offer made you feel good?

Window Shopping

Today’s post comes from perennial sophomore Bubby Spamden, national poster child for the campaign to end social promotion and a fixture at Wendell Willkie High School.

Hey Mr. C.,

I know the economy is (supposedly) picking up and people in my age group have better employment prospects now compared to just a few years ago, when the likelihood of finding work after graduation was pretty much zero.

Now they say if you study the right kind of thing you have a good chance of getting hired if your training lines up with all the jobs they say are coming – jobs that have real specific requirements.

In fact Mr. Boozenporn organized a job fair just before the Christmas Break where we had a chance to go to the gym during our study hall hour and talk to experts in a bunch of different fields about what we need to do to get ready.

There were people there from the medical fields to talk about being nurses and doctor’s assistants. There were technology people there to talk about being all different kinds of engineers.

And there was even one who said we could get work right out of high school as long as we were willing to change bedpans and take care of old people, a super-needy and traditionally grumpy group that is growing every single day.

Nobody wanted to talk to that guy.

I took a walk around but didn’t see anything interesting, mostly because I was still holding out for my dream job – being a NASA mission specialist on the International Space Station, in charge of looking out the window.

Seriously – being in space is awesome (I think) but everybody we send up there has a hundred different jobs to do so nobody gets to just look at stuff.

I was super-ready to take that job, but then I got a big disappointment. Somebody already has it!.

Still, I think this is pretty amazing, and when you consider that the universe is vast, there’s lots more to see. Notice he only spent a little bit of time looking out the windows on the other (non-Earth) side!

Now that we know it can be a “thing”, maybe there will be other openings for Space Lookout Observation Boy. My mom says I was born to be a S.L.O.B.!

Your hopeful pal,

What can you see out your favorite window?

The Fake Persona Strategy

Today’s post comes from perennial sophomore Bubby Spamden of Wendell Willkie High School.

Hi Mr. C.,

I don’t get to see much television ’cause there are so many other screens to watch I don’t have enough time for it. But I know things are different for you older folks. You still think we kids spend our nights the way you did – sprawled on the living room floor in front of the tube, with mom and dad sitting on the couch behind us.

That’s kinda sweet, I guess. But why would anyone ever lay down on the floor in front of a screen that doesn’t respond to you? Weird.

Someday you’ll have to tell me all about how it was in olden times. Maybe when I’m your age I’ll have the patience to sit and listen – can you wait that long? I suppose the math doesn’t really work out.

Anyway, that’s why I haven’t watched the TV show that’s the big deal of the moment now that “Stephen Colbert” has signed off the air to make way for Stephen Colbert, who will debut a new show on CBS in September.

If I get what people are telling me, “Stephen Colbert” is a fake know-nothing blowhard character made up by Stephen Colbert to poke fun at people who are real know-nothing blowhards.

And for this they say he’s a genius!

He also got rich doing it, and is going to get even richer in the Fall when he replaces David Letterman. But in that job he’ll be playing his real self, not his fake one.

I’m not too keen on all this using media to pretend to be someone you’re not. Does that really work? I’m pretty sure people are smart enough to see through it without much trouble, just by the language you use and the look in your eye.

But that’s just me.

Still, it does give me an interesting idea – do you think Principal Peepers would buy it if I told him that all these years I’ve spent at Willke High I’ve been pretending to be a snotty, selfish, shallow sophomore when in fact I’m really good-hearted, smart scholar-type who’s just been doing a big con, like a performance art project with me as the star? And that next Fall I want to switch back to my real self and get on with my life?

I could use a lucky break like that. And if it can work once, maybe it would again and again! It would sure be a cool way to get out of a bunch of the trouble I expect to get into after I (someday) graduate!


I told Bubby it all hinges on whether Principal Peepers is:

  1. A Colbert Fan
  2. Gullible

As a high school principal, there’s a slim possibility he’s the first, but no chance at all that he’s the second. Still, it doesn’t hurt to dream big.

What’s your best fake persona?