â€œDoes your mother have a black dress?â€
No other professor would tell this story. No other professor would have this story.
But because heâ€™s Dr. Rosy, heâ€™d tell us how he as a teacher once dealt with a school bully.
This had to have happened in the mid-90s, in the first few weeks he taught 8th grade English in a high school somewhere in the Midwest.
He had come across an all-state athlete picking on some scrawny kid whose feet werenâ€™t touching the ground. The lineman had the kid up by the collar.
Dr. Rosy â€” then Mr. Rosy, doctoral student â€” walked up to the bully and told him to put the kid down. The bully complied immediately.
The way Dr. Rosy tells it, the athlete was 6 feet 5 inches, with a solid 300 pounds of muscle â€” â€œThis kid must have been pushing iron since the 3rd grade.â€
A girl off to the side of the scene told the football player to just take care of Rosy already. Rosy wasnâ€™t impressed.
â€œCould I borrow your cell phone?â€ he asked the girl. She declined.
â€œIn that case, you call 911 and get an ambulance here,â€ he said. â€œWell, maybe two. This guyâ€™s so big he wonâ€™t fit in one.â€
Rosy was at least 43 years old and slightly shorter than the bully. A large-framed man even then, he would have been quite a bit smaller than the massive boy defiantly facing him.
â€œDoes your mother have a black dress?â€ he asked. The bully didnâ€™t understand, so Rosy repeated the question. â€œDoes your mother have a black dress?â€
Rosy must have feigned pondering to himself for a moment.
â€œBecause sheâ€™ll need one in about four days,â€ he said. â€œThatâ€™s about when the state buries you.â€
Thatâ€™s about when the story ends with my class laughing hysterically, some laughing out of horror.
He never advocated using or threatening violence, of course, and made sure to say that.
â€œYou have to improvise, overcome and adapt to these situations,â€ he told us.
Thatâ€™s one way to look at it.
In other news: you’d think salvaging dignity would involve being smart about it; medicine waffles back on fish; and Bungie pulls a Pixar.