Ha, Ha, Ha.
Many readers have commented on how funny they found The Book of Moon. Delighted to hear it! More than anything in life, I appreciate humor of all kinds, from sophisticated to slapstick, Annie Hall to Dumb and Dumber.
There are times it’s been a problem. In fourth grade, I sat next to Danny and Scott, who were real side-splitters, vying to outdo each other from eight to three. While the comedians performed sotto voce, Mr. Laugh Track’s volume was cranked way up. I’d roar as only a nine-year-old can, ’til tears streamed down my face and I fell out of my seat.
You can imagine that disturbed the more sober students, trying to read their primers or copy math problems off the board. So, eventually I’d be sent to pull myself together in the “cloakroom”—a doorless alcove at the end of the classroom, used to store jackets and lunches.
With me exiled to Siberia, the class got a few minutes of peace…but then it would begin again. Chuckles, chortles, guffaws, belly laughs, as I’d dwell on my buddies’ recent wit. If something’s good and funny, you don’t just get to laugh—you get to re-laugh.
Eventually a wiseass would ask for permission to keep me company in the cloakroom—a variation on the I’ll-have-what-she’s-having scene in When Harry Met Sally. No question, rolling in the aisles beats the hell out of practicing cursive penmanship.
At that point Mrs. Orr (no Ms. in those days…) would invite me to pace a few laps around the playground until my mania subsided. “Why don’t you walk it off, George?” she’d suggest with remarkable kindness.
This routine was repeated daily.
Unless Mrs. Orr took a day off.
I actually met my wife, Liz, in elementary school. As you can imagine, I made a great first impression when I was dispersed to her class, which is what we did when no substitute could be obtained for an absent teacher. Liz’s instructor, Mr. Rigg, was already on-edge about having five or six extra students stuffed in his room. He was a high-strung man and lacked Mrs. Orr’s patience. When I began busting up about something or other, he yelled at me to “Cut it out, for Pete’s sake!”
Next to me, a kid named Pete muttered, “Laugh all you want, I don’t care.” What a card! I shrieked and wet my pants a little.
Mr. Rigg’s face turned crimson. Several other kids started to snicker. “Stop!” he bellowed.
We had those archaic flip-top desks, where you could lift the lid to stow your books, pencils, crayons—or your head. I popped the top and stuck mine in, still braying.
“Stop, I said!!” I pulled the top down as far as it would go, trying to muffle the merriment.
But it looked ridiculous and made the rest of the class absolutely fall out.
My wife said Mr. Rigg might have taken a pill or two at that point. Probably a good move, at least better than whacking me one, which was borderline in those days. Only the principal was really allowed to do that.
Once I became a teacher, I could appreciate how annoying my out-of-control mirth must have been.
But as I gained a rudimentary knowledge of classroom management, I had to wonder why Mrs. Orr never changed my seat. She must have known that letting me sit next to Danny and Scott was like setting an alcoholic loose in a liquor store.
Only way I can figure it, is that maybe Mrs. Orr went home every night with some funny stories about what her crazy students did that day.
I know I sure did when I was a teacher.
Of course, my students had a few stories about me, too.