I did my weekly mentoring today. Thankfully, Ernie was on his best behavior. If only I could say the same for me.
The school is currently hosting a book fair. Consequently, the library where Ernie regularly cheats in games against me has been sectioned off and filled with literature for sale. His teacher asked me to review the writings with the boy and help him choose suitable materials to purchase. Frankly, it surprised me to hear her say Ernie can read, even if she added the caveat: “when he’s interested.” I’m glad to hear the news though, because undoubtedly he’ll someday need the skill to secure a job in the prison library, or to work on his death penalty appeal.
Ernie couldn’t wait to get to the book fair. Admittedly, I didn’t think the anticipation of leafing through a classic was what had him charged. Recalling our first mentoring session on the playground, I pictured him tearing through the library knocking books off the shelves and trampling the displays. I did not want to leave the library in the same state as Tokyo after a visit from Godzilla, so I had a word with the boy during our journey: “Remember, we’re not on the playground. You can’t run around the library destroying stuff!”
Incredibly, the kid whose outdoor escapades caused the worst back spasms I’d suffered in years looked at me like I’d grown a third nipple, on my forehead! He even had the nerve to voice: “Why would I mess up the library?”
I couldn’t believe how many Harry Potter knockoffs were on sale at the fair. Obviously, they must be big sellers. Ernie liked some of them too, but the book which really caught his fancy seemed quite different. I don’t recall its name, but it depicted “what if” battles between pairs of predators, such as a grizzly bear against a lion. After a factual description of each animal, the oversized paperback assigned ratings to each for attack, defense, speed, and other attributes, and then discussed a possible duel between the two beasts. The book wasn’t exactly Dickens, but I nonetheless considered Ernie’s interest in it as a case of “better than nothing.”
Actually, I liked the book’s theme too. Unlike my mentee though, I couldn’t leave well enough alone. My brain imagined a potential spin-off: How funny would it be to write something like this about the teachers at the school slugging it out with each other? From the looks of it, Ernie’s teacher probably could take most of her competition.”
“That’s a great idea, Mr. Richard! And you’re right. Ms. McDaniel can sure be scary!”
As I stood by, cursing myself for once again speaking aloud thoughts that were better left unsaid, Ernie took the predator battle tome which he’d been about to cast aside, and purchased it instead … “to get some ideas for my book,” he advised.
Bear v. Lion – Who would win?