Where have you been? Where are you going? And why?
I hate #2 pencils. When I think of them, my mind hears Jerry Seinfeld’s analogy for airport bathroom sinks: “pain in the *** Alcatraz faucets”. In a day where we have the iPhone 4 and the iPad, shouldn’t Steve Jobs spend some money and Apple brain power to rescue afflicted students with the iPencil?
My hatred rekindled Saturday during a two hour, 120-question test. You know the kind where you have to fill in all those bubbles neatly and dark, making sure not to derail from the outer oval. It’s the kind of standardized test where the proctor orders you six times to listen to her every instruction before turning the page. You must use a #2 pencil or otherwise hang, she says. Your choice. I don’t mind using a #2 pencil for about two sentences, but after that I need a sharpener. The actual pencil I used yesterday was not the typical orange-yellow Ticonderoga, but a white one that said, “Jesus Loves Me” near the eraser. Down the shaft the word “Forever” was repeated twenty times. So sharpening the pencil would be one less forever that Jesus loves me? The hexagon-like imprint dug into my fingers. The lead smeared onto that imprint and over my finger nails. Did I mention that my eraser had petrified like wood?
The greatest day in the life of a student is the day when his teacher allows the substitute of a blue or black pen. Didn’t you throw a New Year’s-esque parade when such permission was granted? The day when Mrs. Smith said we no longer had to write in cursive paled in comparison. Of course, I haven’t even mentioned the mechanical pencil, the knight in shining armor that has rescued more than a few afflicted kids from Ticonderoga Dungeon. The glory of a mechanical pencil is that it doesn’t require sharpening; the end is always sharp. Plus your fingers escape the “STOP sign” imprint and the lead smears. Furthermore, when you borrow one, you don’t have to worry about your friend’s slobber and teeth marks. Oh, and one more secret: mechanical pencils, although not #2 lead, actually work on standardized scantron sheets. All those times she forced you to put away the mechanical pencil for the dreaded #2…The computer does read the marks. So the next time you run into your former teacher at the mall and go the through the “what are you up to these days?” pleasantries, make sure you give her a look that says you know now.
By the time I finished my test, only a lead stub remained. I contemplated severing the other pencils Bo Jackson style. That would be far too kind, however, for something that has plagued me so. Just like Hamlet, out of fear that his uncle would go to heaven, refrained from killing Claudius while he prayed, I wanted those pencils to suffer. I collected them, drove home, and placed them in a red envelope. With murderous glee I addressed it:
Center for Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Attention: Chuck Norris
No Address or Stamp Needed