I generally have nothing against not owning a television, but every time Shark Week rolls around, I feel a bit left out. I want watch Tara Reed go all Ishmael over a tornado loaded with sharks too! Or maybe Sharknado is different from Shark Week. I wouldn’t know. I don’t have a tv. You see the problem?
Great news, though, Discovery Channel. Instead of playing the role as passive consumer of your programming, I’m doing some work for you. Here’s some content you should feel free to create into a documentary: today’s conversation with a student, who I’ll call Gimli*:
I walked to our table, ready to greet Gimli, a ten-year-old boy who’s been on vacation for the past two weeks. As soon as he saw me, he buried his face in his hands.
“Gimli! Oh my gosh, you are clearly so excited to see me!” I said, and watched as he groaned and shook his head. “How was your vacation to San Diego?”
“It was terrible and boring.”
“You must be confused. San Diego is such a fun city,” I said.
“Well I didn’t even get to go anywhere. There was a shark attack at the beach where I stayed, so we weren’t allowed to go swimming.”
“No way, that’s so cool!”
Gimli stared at me with an expression I’ve seen several times before, which is one that asks, “Are you an idiot?”
“What I mean is that it’s Shark Week. And you got a better experience than everyone else, because you had to deal with a real shark,” I clarified, and then thought for a moment. “Not directly, of course. But shark attacks are so rare, you know? Who got attacked?”
“Some surfer guy, I guess.”
“I don’t believe that you didn’t have any fun. You look super tan.”
The Miss-Kasia-You-Are-An-Idiot face returned. Finally, he responded, “Yeah, my grandma made me to go the beach. But I wasn’t gonna go in the water. I ain’t getting eaten by a shark! My brother’s real dumb though. He wanted to go into the ocean and swim with the sharks, and I told him, ‘kid, you’re gonna die.'”
“Hey now, we don’t call people dumb. How old is your brother?”
“He’s three. So I duct taped him together.”
“I duct taped his arms to his body.”
“So he couldn’t swim. But then he still tried to run into the water, ‘cuz he’s dumb”– “Gimli!”– “Fine, he’s little, so I duct taped him to a pole instead.”
“That’s when my dad decided to hunt for the shark.”
“The shark that bit the surfer?”
“Yeah, and Dad caught ‘im. Shot the in the mouth with a spear.”
“My dad picked him up and put ‘im on the boat. Then he brought the shark home and put him in a tank. We sold all his teeth for $5000 bucks each. And after that, we ate the shark for dinner.”
“Well, Gimli, that sounds like a totally real story that you didn’t make up at all.”
Gimli sat up straight for the first time since the session had started. “Yup,” he said, proud of himself for fooling me.
“Sounds like you actually had a pretty exciting vacation. All right, let’s get started on this story,” I said, handing him the passage he was to read aloud. The first sentence began with a topic altogether less exciting than sharks; it read “Owls are well-named, and as they are also known as howlers.”
Gimli sighed in normal fashion, slumping over once more. “Owls are well-named, as they are also known as whores.”
“Oh… why don’t we try sounding out that last word?”
…And that’s a normal day in my life. Do with it what you will, Discovery Channel.
*Disclaimer: Since I will never post the name of my workplace, nor the names of my students, I’ve decided to give each kid his or her own pseudonym on my blog, based on which character from Middle Earth they best resemble. Please respect my privacy just as I respect theirs.