The teacher, a middle-aged, disheveled and beleaguered looking woman, was busy writing something on the board. As she turned to steal a glance at her students, her gaze alighted on one child in particular. Stopping everything, she turned to face the class straight on. Darryl found himself watching the scene with curiosity.
“Ahem! Mr. Oliver!”, she stated rather loudly as she made her way down the aisle of desks. “Is that gum I see you chewing?”
Darryl cringed inwardly, a nervous twitch working its way up his spine. This classroom and situation was suddenly seeming all too familiar.
“Well, Mr. Oliver, is that gum?”’
The kid in question reached into his mouth and pulled something out. Holding the wad up to the light, he squinted one eye at it and said, “I believe you’re right, Ms. Simpson, it is gum.”
Ms. Simpson was not amused. Crossing her arms in front of her chest and raising one eyebrow she made a simple inquiry. “Did we bring enough for the whole class, Mr. Oliver?”
A broad grin broke out across the child’s face as he leaned over to reach for a backpack under his chair. “As a matter of fact - I did”, he said producing several packs of gum. “Shall I pass them out, or would you prefer to do the honors?”
As Ms. Simpson’s face clouded over in a mixture of surprise and anger, Darryl’s vision began to blur and the room seemed to shift under his feet. As he regained his balance and his sight began to clear, he found himself looking out on a new scene. Another classroom was laid out before him with slightly older students and a male teacher; a bespectacled man wearing a tweed jacket and looking every inch on the verge of retirement.
The teacher was asking the class a question about the American Revolution and Paul Revere’s famous ride. One boy’s hand shot up, eager to answer.
“Yes, Mr. Oliver?” There seemed a hint of trepidation in the instructor’s voice.
The boy stood up and began his oration. “ We all know Revere was a silversmith by trade. What I want to know is why be a silversmith? I mean if you are going to work with valuable metals, then why wouldn’t you be a goldsmith? This is just one of many signs of his tendency to underachieve in life.”
“Mr. Oliver!” His teacher began to interrupt, but the student continued to talk right over the top of him. Darryl tried to cover his ears, fearing he knew what was going to happen next.
“I mean, how else can you explain a fairly affluent man, descended from nobility, ending up as a messenger boy?”
“Mr. Oliver!” The teacher shouted, now standing. “Enough!”
“And something else, what was the point of the ride anyway? The British are coming? Duh, it’s a war.”
“And why was he in such a hurry? Weren’t they the minutemen? How much warning did they need?”
Zack was plucking at his sleeve, concern in his voice as he tried to get his teacher’s attention.
The previous scene quickly dissipated, replaced now with Darryl‘s more familiar, though no less stressful, environment.
“What is it, Zack?” Darryl asked with forced patience. Zack always had the most annoying questions.
“Do I have to do this assignment?”
Darryl sighed. “Yes, Zack. As always, you have to do the assignment. Same as all the other students.”
“But I don’t want to.”
Of course not, Darryl thought. “Why is that, Zack?”
“Because. It’s stupid.”
Darryl began massaging the bridge of his nose between his thumb and forefinger. “It’s not stupid. Zack, I thought you of all the kids in class would have fun with this. You’re always the class clown, I figured you’d jump at the opportunity to do a skit.”
“Well, I don’t want to. It’s dumb.”
“Well, it’s designed to allow you to show what you’ve learned in a creative and fun way. Give it a try.”
“Fine. Can I do an impersonation?”
Darryl felt like he’d just stepped into a baited trap.
“Who would you like to impersonate?”
“I was thinking I could impersonate you teaching the class.”
Darryl’s internal alarm system was going off. “I guess that would be okay.”
“Cool,” Zack said as he began to walk away. After a couple of steps he turned back and, with a sly grin added one last question. “Is it alright if I use the word ’fat’?”
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