Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Enhanced reality

Today I used the textbook questionnaire about fears again, with a different class. I'm getting a lot of mileage out of that questionnaire, and I was looking forward to it. Every time I have used it the same question has come up.

Sure enough, when the students got to the question, "Are you afraid of flying?" they asked me what it meant, and this time I was ready. I pushed off gently with my right foot and levitated upwards until I was hovering halfway between the ceiling and the floor.

"Flying," I said. "See? Like this, only in a plane."

I wafted a little higher, and started to circle the room above their heads. I would not have done this if I had been wearing a skirt, but today I wore my fabulous new French designer trousers, so I was safe. The trousers didn't only make the view from below less embarrassing than it could have been, but also gave me confidence. I was pretty sure I looked good as I flew gracefully around the room.

"Oh, FLYING," my students said, as I descended slowly. My new boots cushioned my landing, and the students went back to work.

"Are you afraid of flying?" they asked each other.

"No," said some of them.

"Yes," said others.


In one of the breaks I remembered to ask the other teachers about the mysterious men and their mysterious machine last week.

"Did they visit you as well?" I asked.

"Not last week," said one of the teachers. "But they visited me a few months ago. They lifted up the ceiling panels, too. I thought they were looking for asbestos or something."

"Asbestos?" I said. "There can't be asbestos! This is a new building!"

Everybody stared at me, and I blushed. Sometimes I forget where I am. In the rest of the world the big asbestos scandal happened twenty or thirty years ago, but here it was just last year.

One of the Japanese teachers looked thoughtful.

"I wonder if they were still looking for that missing uranium?" he mused, and the Canadian teacher spat some coffee all over his nice clean photocopies. The rest of us merely dropped our jaws.

"What uranium?" we asked.

"Oh, the uranium that went missing from the physics department a little while back," he said. "They hunted and hunted, and had to send apology letters to everybody in the neighbourhood. It was a terrible scandal, although they tried to keep it quiet. I don't know what happened in the end."

The bell rang into the stunned silence that followed, and we immediately leaped up and rushed off to class, being careful not to pick up the wrong jaw from the floor as we left. There's nothing more humiliating than turning up to class wearing the wrong jaw.


Before I am accused of making things up again, right here and now I freely admit that one of the incidents in today's blog entry is, indeed, slightly fictionalized. I know you think you already know which bit it is. However, I am afraid you are probably wrong. I will tell you right now that the bit where the bell rang and all the teachers immediately leaped up and rushed for the door is NOT MADE UP. There is a certain amount of exaggeration in that 'immediately,' yes, but you can't really say I made it up. I just stated the ideal rather than the exact reality. You could call it reality enhancement. I'm good at that. It's the way my brain works.

So, despite your skepticism, I will insist that the made up bit was not that. I know it seems unlikely, but we did get up after the bell rang, and we did go to class. We were perhaps not quite as quick or as enthusiastic as I implied, but we GOT UP. And we WENT. Eventually.

However, with that red herring out of the way, I will not insult your intelligence by telling you which bit was made up. I am sure that with a little careful thought you are clever enough to figure it out for yourselves.


Anonymous said...

For your next flying demo, I'd suggest a paper airplane. Although that might better be used to illustrate "glide". But you could draw in windows and faces peeking through them. That ought to help clarify things.

kenju said...

Lia beat me to it! A paper airplane or a model plane will get the point across and you won't even have to wear pants!

Anonymous said...

I think the fictionalized part is where you claim some part is fictionalized.

Anonymous said...

I am lost.

Somebody hand me a map or something?