Badwater

Donald is a Dunce that has become the substitute teacher whose presence feels like a charley horse your brother gave you with a protruding knuckle.

We are the parents and school board awaiting the end of the period, the term, the school year, like parents awaiting the birth of their first child, but the labors go on and on, and mother feels like an ultra runner at Badwater-the 135 mile race where temps can reach 130F.

The real teacher of the class stands in the hall with a WTF look on her face, like a shopper during the Corona pandemic looking at the empty shelves where toilet paper used to be, while soothing music comes from the speakers and the store manager tells her or him that it’s only temporary, and that the shelves will be fuller than Santa’s Christmas sack before she can say “Jack Robinson” (in Sanskrit. Backwards. Through a straw…etc…).

The lessons these days are like exercises in substitute teacher-worship. Even when teacher is eating the chalk, or trying to spell his own name, or trying to drink from a bottle of water with his tiny, tiny hands, or telling the class how great the substitute teacher is for making rain fall down, it’s best to humor him, since by not doing so you run the risk of lengthening Badwater, and no one wants that.

The situation is not unlike the one England faced during the reign of George the Three, who ruled during the Revolutionary War but then had…mental issues. He would write sentences of 400 words or more, spoke for hours without pause while foaming at the mouth, and once shook hands with a tree, believing it was the King of Prussia. [On a side note, the King, even when healthy, also did not want to abolish slavery.]

England went on, after George the Three’s death, to become the greatest empire the world had ever seen, so perhaps there is hope for us yet.

The Dunce impresses us with, like…words that are similar to intelligent thought the way the Titanic is similar to a swordfish-they are both found in the ocean. His skin is just like regular skin but just by saying that I’ve shown the opposite is true. Our substitute teacher also impresses us with great peudo-feats of athletic skill like cheating at golf and wearing white while trying to cheat at tennis, looking like an etiolated eggplant, swaddled in white diaperish garments Indian yogi style-an image somehow nowhere near as ridiculous as the original. In truth his greatest skill is to set the bar, at the Olympics of Humanity, so ridiculously low that even ants would rather go over than under it, which allows him to capture first prize. He competes against no one and considers his success to be unparalleled, and as proof offers his sworn statements that everything he does is true and perfect and should be celebrated in the most bigliest fashion.

Our substitute teacher is so desperate for acknowledgement and love he will turn his mouth into a Machine of Perpetual Motion, the first of its kind to ever work. As long as there is fuel for the machine-specifically: the lack of love and acknowledgement he never got and never will from his long dead father-the class is chained to their desks, like Odysseus, forced to listen to his…lessons (?) as long as their teacher doesn’t get hungry (also a possibility). In a cruel twist of fate, these Odysseuses can’t stuff their ears with wax, and are forced to sail with O! Captain! My captain! to the brink of ruin, AKA Mar-a-Lago.

There will come a time when we can all look back at this and laugh, but to get there it is possible that we may have to burn down the school, an eventuality that will surely leave us scarred, the way our ears and brains have been scarred after our substitute teacher told us he was a very stable genius.

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