Thursday, August 19, 2010

Socrates at the Strip Mall

A class of children sat in a circle at the back of a parking lot. In the center of this circle, a man stood and talked to his young congregation. The man swept his arms behind him with a dramatic flourish. “You see, our story is indelible, written into the very fabric of this world. Look at this cliff. Look here at the layers of stone in this spot revealed when they blasted away a hill to make room for this shopping center. You can see our history. It is written in fossils, obviously, yet also in languages more subtle, if not downright obscure. Notice the striations in the rock, the shifts of color in various layers of soil. Yes, there is writing here. There are stories. You just have to look.”

“I see,” said a broken prepubescent squeal.

“You do? What do you see, Tye?”

“Uhm. What you told me to see.”

“Ah. What if I told you the earth was flat? Would you believe me then?”

Ginger Farrell raised her hand. The teacher lifted his head and pointed his thin chin in her direction. “Yes, Ms. Farrell?”

She swished her head and moved a lock of blonde hair away from her eyes. She held her pen in her hand. The pen sat poised and ready over the colorful notebook in her lap. “Is the world flat, Mr. Jenkins?" She asked the question without a smile. Her face wore the vacant look of sincerity.

Mr. Jenkins slapped his forehead with his palm in an overtly dramatic gesture of frustration.

The children laughed uneasily.

Mr. Jenkins wondered if they even understood the joke? He doubted it. If so, they wouldn’t laugh. It wasn’t funny. It wasn’t funny at all.


  1. This can be enjoyed on many levels. Scary the power teachers can have. Loved the tone..:)