As Not Seen on TV

Currently, I'm working at a literacy program for students entering middle school. Going to retrieve my students from a pre-class assembly, a student that is not mine latches on to me and gives me a hug. Panicking, I ask other teachers whether this particular one belongs to them. Finally someone rescues me. I don't understand why this incident occurred, but I feel uncomfortable.

At break, I see the same kid staring at me. He approaches another teacher and points at me. I don't hear what he says, but the fellow teacher responds, "He's another teacher." The kid then struts up to me. "Are you on TV?" he asks. "No," I say, assuming he hasn't caught me on a VH1 award show. "You're on TV!" he accuses. "No," I say firmly, a bit scared. "You're on TV," he repeats, then stomps away. He returns to the other teacher, says something, then comes back to me. "You're on the Del Taco commercial." "No, I'm not." "Yes you are!" "I don't even eat at Del Taco," I ration. I can't believe I'm having to argue this.

The next day, he stalks me before and after class, always walking a half-step behind my left shoulder so that he can whisper nonsensical words and songs into my ear. Each time I inquire what he's talking about, he quickly says, "Nothing. Nothing." It may be nothing, but it sure is eery.

As I try to slip away from his uncomfortably close position, I notice him trying to shove a five dollar bill in my pocket. "What are you doing?" "Nothing." "Don't try to give me that; I don't want that." "It's five grand!" he grins. "No, it's five dollars; don't give it to me," I explain. "Look over there," he says. "What?" I ask. "Look over there, you dropped something," he repeats. In other cases, I might humor the child, but I know as soon as I turn my back, he'll slip the money in my pocket. Though I refuse to turn around, he tries to give it to me again anyway. "No!" I have to say. "I'm not in the Del Taco commercial," I remind him, which makes him sad. Apparently, because I'm a celebrity in his eyes, he wants to give me money. I'm too ethical to take money from a confused kid - or at least until a twenty is involved.

In the meantime, I'm getting a kick out of being the Del Taco guy. You can go to the Del Taco website and marvel at how much I do not look like the pushing-forty spokesperson Dan from the ad. If you're like me, you'll think the situation is so hilarious that you'll download both the Dan wallpaper and screen saver to your computer so that you can always be surrounded by the presence of my Doppelganger.

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