Thursday, December 16, 2010

Fat, Weird Ideas Part 2

In 2nd grade another kid and I got into a writing competition. There was no prize and the competition wasn't even a formalized thing, but while writing a story for a class project he dared to show me six floppy pages and I outraced him to seven and it went on until we were told to stop. I remember not being finished.

Obviously we both falsely equated length with seriousness.

By 4th grade that kid was gone. (And he's gone from this story now; forget about him. In fact, I only thought about him because I remembered he once stapled his thumb on a dare, and then I remembered his strange local child-star singing career. I don't know where he is now.) Our class kept writing stories, though. This year I wrote a story about bats. The synopsis, as I recall:

SOMEONE SOMEONE lives a quiet life in SOMEWHERE, until a grand horde of BATS descends from the sky and carries her away.

I illustrated the thing on yellow paper. We had a contest in our classroom and I won!

Man! I was so thrilled. That victory probably shot me along my current life path.

As the local winner, I was sent to a non-local event to read and listen to other elementary schoolers read. I wore a tie. My parents stopped at Sonic on the way and I ate a cheeseburger. At the event, we sat in a darkened room with other families. Bright, serious children in dark clothes went to the spotlit lectern and read. One story was about orphans and another was about AIDS. All the stories were serious pieces. I was embarrassed to read about the bats. I read about them anyway but afterward I felt foolish. Kids a grade below me (kids with 25% less education!) had written about real world tragedies and I had written about the impossible tragedy of being carried aloft by bats. Worse, in my illustrations, the sun was obviously out. Of course the sun would not be out with the bats. The bats would not be out with the sun.

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