Friday, November 11, 2011

George D vs. Heavy D

Only one week after a student told me I needed to do more push-ups, a student yesterday suggested that Heavy D, the late 80s early 90s rapper that died on Tuesday at the age of 44, is healthier than me.



Here's how it went:

Me: And in sad news, some of you may have seen that Heavy D died on Tuesday.
Student 1: How'd he die?
Me: It's not totally certain, but I can almost guarantee that it was related to the fact that he was "Heavy" D.

[I take whatever opportunity I can find to remind my students of the dangers of obesity given that such a significant portion of this generation is overweight. The crap they eat is mind-blowing. My classroom is on the third floor, and not a day goes by when multiple students don't collapse into their desks in my classroom complaining of having to walk up "all those stairs."]

Student 1: He wasn't that heavy anymore! He had lost weight!
Me: He had lost weight, but he was still pretty heavy.
Student 2: Yeah, he was still like 500 pounds.
Student 1: That don't matter!
Me: It does matter. I don't think that he was 500 pounds, but he was definitely still too heavy to be healthy.
Student: Nuh, uh! Somebody can be 500 pounds and be healthy!

[At this point, the class kinda erupted. I tried to pull it back together a bit.]

Me: No, not really. A person can't be 500 pounds and be healthy.
Student 3: You can be if you're really tall.
Me: You'd have to be REALLY tall--like nine feet--and even then, 500 pounds is a lot.
Student 1: No, it don't matter. Mr. Darden, how much you weigh?
Me: I weigh 152 pounds.
Student 1: See? You 152 pounds, and you ain't healthy!

It's possible that she was trying to make the point that there is not a direct correlation between weight and health. And I believe that that's true: a thin and light person can be much less healthy than a bigger person, if the skinny person doesn't practice healthy habits. I've found this to be particularly true in the triathlon community: triathletes come in all shapes and sizes, and many folks that might "look less fit" than me leave me behind in races. Ultimately, I'm not sure what point she was trying to make, but I am left wondering what her notion of health is if she thinks that I am unhealthy. By most measures, I believe that I would qualify as a pretty healthy person.

This is sticking with me more than it should, and I don't know why. I think that a couple of weeks out from an Ironman, I'm annoyed by the fact that the people in my life--specifically, my co-workers and students--don't really recognize the work that I'm doing. Even if they don't understand my speed or goals, even if they don't comprehend my specific workouts and challenges, I would like for people to at least recognize that in order to train for 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of cycling, and a full marathon of running, I have to be pretty damn fit--fitter, in fact, than virtually everyone they know.

Sure, I'm being vain, but is it so wrong for me to desire just a little recognition after all this work?


  1. Great post! I realize I sound like my father when I say these kids today are to fat and lazy but that is the case. Each generation gets a little softer. My Grandfather walked 10 miles one way to work someone else's farm every day before buying his own.

  2. Um... You're not vain. Your students sound kind of lacking in mental capacity. Keep on working hard - your students may not know what's up, but all the other folks out there on the race course definitely do!

  3. You're not vain -- I'd have internalized that big time. Comments that I know my students don't think twice about before or after the fact I take home and stew over for hours (or days), which makes it that much more annoying! They make these snapshot judgments and assume they know everything about you (or whatever the subject is) in a second, and really have no idea. I think that might be the most annoying aspect of our job (eh, maybe second to the papework): the fact that we work really hard to relate to *them* (because we can; we've been there) but they don't work towards relating to us (which they can't really help because they *haven't* ever been in our shoes, they've only ever been as old as they are now). How annoyingly frustrating!

    When Michael was deployed in Afghanistan, I was working long-distance on my M.Ed. @ UGA, teaching English for the first time, and much more, it often took all of my remaining energy to stifle their snotty, ignorant comments about quizzes not graded yet, or whatever, as well as to stifle my *own* snotty, snarky response.

    Grrr.... I can completely relate with this post!

    (I do admire you for sharing your personal life as much as you do with them -- we have a great rapport but my students know very few of my interests or what I do in my (oxymoronic) spare time because of exactly the types of comments/commentary you mention in this post. (I never thought I'd be like that, but turns out I'm much more private in that aspect than I realized.)