ricklesI am headed to Vegas this weekend to see Don Rickles before he offs. He’s 89. He has always been one of my idols along with Steve Martin and Richard Pryor. Steve doesn’t do stand-up any more and Pryor is dead, so…

In the documentary about Rickles, interspersed with screamingly funny clips of his insults, are interviews with a lot of people who have known him his whole life/career. Every single person talks about how nice and caring and loving Don is offstage. Even as he insults people.

A year or so ago, after I had “gone off” on some kid who had asked a dumb question (yes, they do exist you elementary school teachers and motivational speakers) for the third time, the kid I had been helping when I was interrupted said,

“You know what I like about this class? You’re never fake nice.”

The counselors tell me that there are some kids who are intimidated by me in the beginning of the year. They like me and the class. But what about that stick? And the growling?

Part of the package, baby. They soon enough realize that I love this job, and that even if I do growl now and then and get exasperated enough to compare their learning abilities to my dog (“You have a dog? Really?”), I really do like them.

Most of the time.

Three parents at Back-to-School Night this year told me I should be a stand-up comedian. Hmm.

Funny, insulting, caring. Five shows a day, 180 days a year. Still not retired @ 89. I just realized something.

I could be the Don Rickles of the classroom!