Thursday, January 25, 2007

Sharpen This!

You might think you know what my job is, but you would be wrong. I might pose as a "substitute elementary teacher", but in reality, most everyday, I'm a director in one of the greatest musical productions you've ever heard. It goes by many titles-- "Lead Dread", "Get to the Point!", or "Misery Wrapped in Wood". But the title I prefer is "Tragedy of the Pencil".

This show plays daily in most 1st and 2nd grade classrooms. It's a long show, usually five to six hours long, so wear something comfortable and make sure you have plenty of Tylenol on hand. As you move up through the grades, the length of the show decreases, but every now and then you''ll hear one of its catchy reprises or haunting melodies.

The marvel of this show is the variety of the musical styling. Some days it's sung to zany circus music; another day it might be an operatic lament. Will it be a big brass band complete with a cannon in tow or a retro interpretation of a dull needle on a skippy, scratchy LP recording of "Songs to Annoy". Whatever the tune, the libretto is always the same. Here's a small sampling. Feel free to tap you toe along to any tune that strikes your fancy.

My pencil needs sharpening! My pencil lead broke! Can I sharpen my pencil? Will you sharpen it for me? Our pencil sharpener doesn't work right. I hurt my hand sharpening my pencil. HE'S EMPTYING IT AGAIN!

Can I use the electric sharpener? ONLY THE TEACHER CAN USE THE ELECTRIC SHARPENER! Nuh-un! Yes-huh! The electric sharpener is too hot! It's overhot! It's our third one this year! She's putting colored pencils in the sharpener! I have a fuzzy pencil! I have a shiny pencil! I have a glitter pencil! She broke the sharpener! HE'S EMPTYING IT AGAIN!

I lost my pencil. Can't find my pencil! I just had it and now it's gone. He took my pencil. No, this is mine! No it's not! It's mine 'cause I found it on the floor! That's my pencil!

I broke my pencil. She broke my pencil. My pencil won't sharpen. This pencil doesn't have an eraser anymore! This eraser only makes black marks. Can I glue my eraser back on? Look at my cool eraser. Hey, that's my eraser! Nuh-uh! Yes-huh! I found it on the floor yesterday!

Our teacher lets us have mechanical pencils. My lead keeps breaking. I'm out of lead. [Sound of tiny bits of lead hitting the floor.] Opps! Can I borrow some lead? There's some in the teachers that drawer right there...she lets us borrow. I took my pencil apart and there was this tiny spring that was really fun and I was squeezing it and it went boing boing boing and then it flew over there and now I can't find it and now I don't have a pencil. HE'S USING A PEN!

I need a pencil. My pencil is too short to use. He has like fifty hundred pencils in his box and he won't let me have one. Fine, I'll just use a crayon and it will be ugly and I'll get a bad grade!

I broke my pencil in half and now I have two!

I wish I could offer you the entire show, but some things must be experienced in person to be truly appreciated. So, this is your director saying farewell and "Stop pointing that at me"!


Anonymous said...

This is your greatest blog yet! And here's some little known facts about pencils:

1. The pencil was invented by the great great great grandfather of the Marquis de Sade.

2. In case of emergencies (such as being stuck in a 2nd grade classroom), a pencil can be used to either puncture your eardrums or poke out your eyes; it doesn't matter which order you do this in, just try not to bleed on the children. This makes their parents upset.

3. In 1984, Sade's song "My Man's Love Is Like a Pencil" reached #38 on Kasey Kasem's American Top 40 (New Zealand edition).

4. Although the substance inside a pencil used to made from lead, it is now made from the distelled essence of Hell itself.

5. Pencils really aren't that bad.

6. Okay, yes they are.

7. The "pencil sharpener" was often implemented during the early years of the Spanish Inquistion, before falling out of favor due to it's "general not-niceness."

8. The great composer John Cage believed that the pencil sharpener was the one noise too annoying to find its way into his work.

9. Coincidentally, Cage wrote his great "Ode to Silence" after spending one Thursday morning in a Hoboken Elementary School as a substitute teacher. "It's all I have left," he later famously said.

10. The Marquis de Sade apologized for his great great great grandfather's transgression, writing in his final letters (using, without even a hint of irony, his own blood as ink), "It's the one thing I really feel a little weird about."


Nance said...

Allow me to add Act the Second, which occurs in high school.

Curtain opens on a classroom full of teenage students. The classroom teacher is about to give important directions regarding the impending practice Ohio Graduation Test, the scores of which will be reported to the district superintencent, appended with the teacher's name.

Teacher: (clears throat) Okay, now listen carefully. On this scantron sheet, it's very important that you enter the information correctly or else--

(male student carelessly gets up and walks to front of room; teacher ignores him and continues)

Teacher: --your scores will not correspond to your name for each section of the--



Nick: Huh?