Wednesday, December 15, 2004


i'm actively angry right now, for reasons i can't go into in such a public forum. i can, however, tell a story.

once upon a time, about ten years ago, when i was a little jewish middle-skooler at my little jewish skool, i had an issue i thought i should bring up at student council. not that i was ever naive enough to believe in the efficacy of even local governments. i mean, please. i grew up in washington. our mayor was arrested for getting caught smoking the crack rock in a hotel room with a woman who was not his wife.

marion barry aside, i had little faith in anything, let alone student government. still, i figured i'd give this a shot. i had an idea worth sharing: that students should write class/teacher evaluations at the end of the year. i had a friend willing to pitch the idea with me. i had the squeakings of confidence, good posture, and good improv skills. what, i wondered, was the worst that could happen?

oh my friends. oh, my friends. the worst was waiting right around the corner.

i made my pitch. the various student council members scattered in desks around the room, trying to appear worthy of the grave responsibility of power, nodded at me. the four older kids singled out to be Treasurer, Secretary, Vice President and President who sat in the front of the room in a row nodded too. but before any of the democratically-elected representatives could speak, a voice cut through the room, a voice with the bass and timbre of a locomotive barrelling through the 9th circle of hell; and a figure burst over me, huge with flames. i cast my forearm over my eyes and fell moaning to the ground as the voice rumbled over me, "HOW DARE YOU..."

i fell unconscious. when i awoke, i found myself outside the wretched room. worried student council reps fanned me and offered lemonade. it took me a while to recover -- for one thing, my hair was tinged with char for weeks -- and neither the Treasurer, Secretary, Vice President nor President of student council could look at me without fury boiling up in their eyes because of what i had unleashed.

in the end, all i had unleashed was a little drama. i got a slap-down in front of a classroom of my peers for making my suggestion. some people defended me; a couple kept their dislike on simmer, and i'm not kidding, for the rest of our tenure at that little jewish skool. a couple years later, the suggestion was implemented anyway and had nothing to do with me. but my key take-away from the experience was, never underestimate the force of a petty tyrant. i will never forget the feeling of having what seemed like a simple, logical idea, trying to present it, and, in response, coming face to face with a middle-skool history teacher cum demon.

that's something i need to know that i didn't learn in kindergarten.

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