Thursday, January 15, 2009

Volcano Insurance

I think the combined pressures of the ELA exam and waiting for the SHSAT results are starting to get to Class A.

Example: F is an awesome kid. He's brilliant--by which I mean deep, intuitive, critical, and creative, not an automaton. He's quiet, but has a zany sense of humor that leeches out from time to time, often unexpectedly. He's famous for, among other things, never wearing a coat to school--and no, he isn't poor or neglected, just very attached to his two hoodies (one grey-and-white striped, the other navy blue)--and caused quite the stir at school yesterday by showing up, probably reluctantly, in an olive green North Face jacket as well as a SCARF.

But I think F, along with some of his classmates, is cracking up a tiny bit. Those of you who work with children and/or remember being a child yourself might be aware of how children sort of develop...fantasy worlds? Mythologies? Alternate universes? I'm not quite sure what to call them, though I remember having them with my friends even in college. Sort of elaborate, ongoing "what if" games about friends, acquaintances, and teachers. My best friend from college and I had one of these going about one of our literature professors who was dashingly, impossibly handsome; in our alternate universe, he was a deeply insecure and self-hating hermit who thought that even his mother found him ugly. You get the idea.

One of these parallel universes has sprung up in Class A. F apparently has a starring role as a businessman who deals in nothing but outlandish scams. He is playing along by bringing Monopoly-type money to school and offering it to people to perform various stunts. Today, J, one of his friends, told me that F is selling volcano insurance.

I said, "He does know that there are no volcanoes on the East Coast*, right?"

"Yeah, I think so," J said.

"So, um, why is he selling volcano insurance?"

"I think that's the point," J responded gravely.

Attention, Stuyvesant High School: We have a winner.

*Are there volcanoes on the East Coast? I don't think so but I'm not positive. I'm not a science teacher.