School Daze With Captain Cool

1 Oct

Today I went to my sister’s school and taught a few classes a brief lesson on creative writing.

All the students file into the room. All the chairs and desks have been pushed to the corners of the room, so all the kids just sit on the ground in front of me. It’s 8:30 am. I’m kind of hung over. My head is pounding and my stomach feels like there’s somebody throwing up in it.

“All right. Well, my name is Kyle Irion. You can call me Kyle, Mr. Irion, or Captain Cool. You can also call me Mr. Cool.”

One little boy says “Yes sir, Captain Cool.” This boy has gained my favor. In the event of a zombie outbreak, I will save him first.

“OK. Now. I’m going to teach you guys a lesson about writing, because one day, you’re going to need to learn to put your thoughts onto paper. When you get older there are things called ‘essays,’ which are pretty much long answers on tests. It’s important because even if you don’t really know 100% what you’re talking about, you can still seem like you do if you know how to write. One day, you may even go to college and major in writing essays. That’s what I did as an English major.

“There are a couple of really important things to remember when you’re writing a story. First, you need characters. You need people to do the things in your story. Some times, the people in your story will have sex.” I make an “o” shape with one hand and poke my pointer finger through it. I nod at a boy in the front. He looks scared. Why the fuck does he look like that? “Why the fuck do you look like that?” I ask him. He doesn’t answer. He just cries or some shit. I can’t remember. “Your characters may also kill each other. Your characters should be realistic and believable. For instance, if you were to put me in a story you might say ‘Kyle is thinking about killing this crying child in the front.’ –That’s believable. You’d be damn right. I want to push this kid into a river. But you know what? I don’t know where there are any rivers around here and I don’t want this kid in my car, so how do you explain this to your readers?” I look around, waiting for an answer. A little girl raises her hand.

“You tell them all that stuff?” She asks.

“Yes. that’s exactly right. That’s exactly right.” I hand her the crying kid’s wallet, which I had taken moments prior. She slowly reaches over and hands the child his wallet back.

“OK. We’re running short on time, so I think it’s time for you guys to get started writing. Here’s the prompt: you’re on your way to complete a quest. Your goal is in sight. Then, as if out of nowhere, an obstacle presents itself–and the only person that can help you is your neighbor. So pick someone around you to help you succeed. Give your story a title and write ‘The End’ at the end. If you have enough time after you finish, you can draw the art for the cover.” These instructions seem pretty clear. “Any questions?” I survey the children. An Asian boy in the back raises his hand. “Hit me with it,” I say.

“Well, can we be on a mountain?”

“Yes. You can be anywhere you want. Anybody else?” A little girl in a purple shirt raises her hand. “Yes ma’am?”

“Can we have swords?”

“You can have whatever you want and be wherever you want. It’s all up to you.” A portly Hispanic boy raises his hand. “What’s up?”

“Well, does it have to be today?”

“It can be with anyone, anywhere, and anywhen.” This is not a word. “You could make your story set in 1998 or 3008.”

“So 2000 is OK?”

I sigh deeply. “No. Don’t set your story in the year 2000. Don’t do that. If you do that, you fail. You will be the only student in the room who gets their story graded and you will fail.” The class lets out an “Ah” of understanding and hurriedly gets to work.

——

When they get done they all read their stories aloud. Here’s what I gathered from the stories I heard. All children’s stories follow four simple rules:

  1. Everybody has powers.
  2. Everything can talk.
  3. Ninjas, monsters, and other characters can appear out of anywhere by simply writing “And then ____ showed up.”
  4. No character ever questions anything, no matter how bizarre or nonsensical.

——

Here are some of my favorite (real) moments from the children’s stories:

Dylon could shoot doo doo out of his hands.

Then Kerry got eaten and I was disappointed.

The British soldiers were chasing me, trying to take the crystal cheese.

The Booger monster was attacking. I went to the kitchen and got some tissues and some scissors.

I was building a mountain of candy and then I found out that I didn’t have any chocolate bricks.

Me, Cameron, Ashley, and David were walking to school. Then a ninja jumped out. Everybody died except me.

Kids are badass.

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