by Mrs. Sabraw
Sometimes, when you are sure that your experience is unique, it helps to read the classics.
My students used to moan and roll their youthful eyes, eyes full of whim and mischief, whenever they saw a stack of classics on the front table of Room N-9, ready for distribution.
“Why can’t we read something interesting?” they complained.
“I know many of you just rolled out of bed about 15 minutes ago while others of you have been primping and preening for at least an hour, but tell me, how has your morning been? Has anything or anyone annoyed you? How about the radio? Did you hear anything on your way to school that made you wonder what in the heck is going on in this world?
“Yeah, kinda, Mrs. Sabraw,” chirped one alert sycophant in the front row. ” When I opened my locker this morning, someone had squirted some type of paste through the slats. They slimed my stuff. Then I looked down and wrapped in a Burger King napkin was a tube of Preparation H. I am totally pissed. Oh! Sorry Mrs. Sabraw, I know we’re not supposed to use the word pissed in your classroom. But I really was pissed. Oh sorry again! “[raucous laughter from the back row of mouth breathers– the wrestlers and football players holding up the wall with their heads]. (This student now works at Google.)
“You do know, Joe, that other people since the dawn of man have been irritated with the actions of others, right? You do know that other people have been tortured, raped, robbed, maimed, cheated, hurt, and slimed, right?
What if you found yourself accused of a crime you didn’t commit? Worse, what if you found that you had been accused of a crime that was never revealed? Or, what if you woke up one morning and instead of rolling out of bed and finding your jeans in a clump on the floor ready for your two legs, you couldn’t even roll over because you have moving creepy legs, just like a disgusting cockroach, too many legs for a pair of 501 jeans? What if in your pondering, now that you have morphed into an insect and are stuck in your bed, it occurs to you that your family was just interested in the money you earned and not you?”
“Gosh, Mrs. Sabraw, you don’t have to be so dramatic,” tooted one small wispy dirty blond from the third row, fourth seat. “It’s a little early for those types of heinous images and depressing thoughts.” (This student would go on to study at Swarthmore College.)
“The point that I am making students is…well, Daniel, what is the point?”
” Could it be that even cave men and women got slimed?” (This student is now a psychiatrist.)
“Well, that is a good start, Daniel. Please pass out the books. You’ll note that the title of this text is The Trial and the author is Franz Kafka, one of the most amazing writers of the 20th century. But I will warn you. This is rough sledding. You may feel claustrophobic or highly frustrated. By the way, did you know that frustration is low-level anger?
Franz Kafka was a small Jewish kid in Prague with a loud overly dominant father. If you were a Jewish kid in Prague you were not invited for toast and tea at Prague castle. In fact, if you had a locker outside of the ghetto there, it would have had more than Preparation H pushed through the slats. Franz lived in a small space with sisters and a big loud dad. He often felt claustrophobic and afraid. He found that the corners of his room were the best places to get away and…
Now, are we ready to read? “