No Phone Calls

-So the Monkey, he lives in a cage right? It’s like the size of a very small jail cell. He has a bed. He sleeps there. Locked up. They feed him. Sometimes they let him out. He hangs out in the common area with another monkey named Dan. He tried to bang a monkey named Shirley a while back, but that didn’t work out. Shirley hangs out across the yard now. The Subject Monkey mostly hangs out with Dan during recess.

-What are you talking about Mr. Meardon?

-See class, we’re the monkey. You understand? That’s the metaphor. And all the time we spend freaking out about things, like where we’re gonna go to college or who we’re gonna marry-that’s the monkey, as he exits in his cell and walks across the common. Our journey through life is the monkey’s walk across the yard. The college we want to attend is in the common as well as the person we want to be with. Nobody outside the grounds is available to us. Our personalities are manifested in the yard and by our interactions with objects and creatures in the yard. It’s simple, it’s all really simple.

-I’m going to go to Notre Dame, and that’s not in a prison yard!

-I’m saying this world is the monkey enclosure, you understand? We have limits. Yeah yeah yeah, more than the monkey, but we live in a confined space we call Earth-Earth, right now-and that’s it.

-The planet is sooooooo big, Mr. Meardon. And isn’t China bigger than The US?

-Yeah Suzie, but you’re still missing the point.

-I think you’re crazy Mr. Meardon.

-Okay, Jimmy, do me a favor okay? Head on over to China and after lunch give us a phone call and tell us just how big it is, alright?

-I can’t do that! How would I get there so fast? You’re mental.

-Alright, well, why don’t you get a plane ticket and fly there. Give us a call when you have a chance.

-My parents wouldn’t let me miss school. Plus we’re not exactly loaded…Mr Meardon, you’re being stupid!

-That’s my point, Jimmy. Everyone has limitations, you understand? So our world is bigger than some sort of monkey prison yard, so what? What I’m saying is, we live in one gigantic cage, one gigantic yard. Enclosure, if you prefer. And we’re just doing our thing, being monkeys. Giving birth, living, eating, dying, hanging out with Dan. Sometimes we hang out by ourselves. It doesn’t make much of a difference. Just like all the other creatures on the planet…let me ask you something, you think a monkey ever asks himself how he’s feeling?

-A monkey can’t do that Mr. Meardon.

-My point is, nature doesn’t care how we’re “feeling.” So we feel “down” because we don’t have the job we wanted, or the mate we wanted. Nature doesn’t care. We’re like the monkeys we observe. Maybe what’s going on is interesting, but ain’t nobody crying for us, you understand what I’m saying?

-Ain’t ain’t a word, Teacher.

-Who’s “not crying about us” Meardy?

-Aliens.

-Now he’s talking about aliens. He’s gonna go to the office again.

-No, I’m serious class. Raise your hand if you believe in aliens…c’mon put em’ up…Jimmy? That’s it? Whatever. You don’t have to believe in aliens to follow me. Okay, Suppose an alien came here to Earth. A bunch of aliens -and what we need to understand class- is were not talking about cheap sci-fi aliens from the 60’s.

-Like from Star Trek?

-Exactly. We’re not talking about a man who puts on an ornate rubber mask. We’re not talking about a 6-foot tall humanoid with two arms and a pair of legs, with an inside-out ass on his forehead. We’re talking about ALIENS. This shit is from another galaxy, you follow? We have no idea what these things look like. They can look like doors for instance. They can look like a fuckin’ cellar door. DOORS. That float around- not vertically but horizontally. They have what looks like a Goldfish swimming around in one of those cliche little fish bowls on the upper left side of the door. That’s what it looks like, but it isn’t a fish. We just have no other way to describe it, you understand? It’s really hard to fathom just what a creature from another galaxy looks like.

-He’s gonna get phone calls.

-Yup.

-Fine. Bring it on. 555-2307. I really don’t care. Anyway, in addition to looking like a sideways door and having a goldfish constantly swimming around their person, the aliens smell sooooooo ghastly. Oh man, you have no idea. They smell-

-Like Poop!

-Yeah, now you’re getting it. They smell like piss and vinegar and vomit and diarrhea, and the real kicker is -what you need to understand class- is they LOVE the way they smell. A male alien gets a whiff of a female and exclaims to his pals: “Damn, did you get a whiff of Shirley!!! She smells RIPE!!!

-WHAT ARE YOU SAYING MR. MEARDON!?

-My point is class- we spend all this time worrying out about everything, right? We ask ourselves how we’re feeling and we freak out about getting this or that job or we freak out when we’re just trying to get out of bed in the morning.

-And??? …He’s totally lost it.

-Shut up. So these aliens come, right? Let’s say they’re from that planet we just found-

-The one that the scientists say is like Earth?

-Yeah. Here’s my point: They arrive, and they see the ocean and the mountains. The dolphins and the sharks. The trees and the lakes. The monkeys and the humans. You think the aliens would think we’re special- any more special than the rest of it? You think they’d think we’re cool? They flew 2000 light years. We went to the moon a couple of times. The moon is lame kids. You fuckin think for one second that the aliens would think we’re fuckin cooler than the monkeys and the whales and the volcanoes? You think they’d care how we’re “feeling” whilst not giving a hoot about all the other stuff?

-Why all the F-bombs Mr. Meardon?

-Twice in the same sentence Meardy!

-It’s his style. It’s just his style.

-Whats with all the questions children? What are you saying, it’s my style? I don’t always swear. Let me do the talking okay? Anyway, you don’t have to believe in aliens to follow me. The aliens are also a metaphor. You know what the alien represents?

-The Union.

-Jimmy, why don’t you go for a walk? The aliens don’t represent a union. They’re everything. Everything in the universe that isn’t us- the sun, the moon, the planets that may or may not have intelligent life. All the galaxies & constellations. Aliens are even a metaphor for things here on Earth. The trees and the bushes, the vines and the bugs. All that other shit doesn’t care about us. They don’t give a hoot. They’re just living and dying. On one planet or another. This cage or that prison cell, you understand? It doesn’t matter. Nothing matters. But we spend all this time fretting.

-If none of that matters, why are you getting so heated? Why are you swearing?

-Yeah, now we don’t have enough time to finish Die Hard cuz Mr. Meardon decided it was time to get all personal and serious.

-…I don’t know…well, I don’t know. I do care. I guess that’s the problem. I care a lot and sometimes I think I care too much. I know it doesn’t seem like it cuz I’m a 30-yr-old substitute teacher who just plays Lethal Weapon while your teacher is out… I don’t really brush my hair… I’m a slob…

-Do you have a point today Mr. Meardon?

-His point is he cares!

-And he’s having a bad hair day! Awwwwwww, it’s okay Mr. Meardon!

-Is he gonna cry? ARE YOU GONNA CRY MR. MEARDON?

-Don’t cry Mr. Meardon, we love you. We won’t tell our parents about the swearing. No phone calls. Right everyone? No phone calls.

-Thanks Jimbo…no phone calls…anyone know where the remote is?

 

Basketball

-Basketball is a simple sport, understand? It’s not too complicated. I don’t want you to think it’s complicated. You might be thinking you don’t know the first thing about screens, or other fancy things, but I want you to calm down. Basketball is a simple sport, my friends. It’s about putting the ball into the basket. Putting the BALL- into the BASKET. You get what I’m saying here? See, we’re a team, and I’m the coach, and what we’re here to do is figure out how to put this bad boy through that hole.
-The basketball is a bad boy?
-You don’t wanna know Kelly. Anyway, the game is about putting the ball into the basket. You can shoot it in. You get points when it goes in. The team with the most points wins- but the score is really the indicator of who was better at putting the ball into the basket. Michael Jordan was good at putting the ball into the basket.
-You can dunk it in!
-Yeah Jimmy, you can even dunk it in. You can do many different things to try to get it in, and there are rules regarding what’s allowed when trying to put the ball into the basket. But it’s about putting the ball into the basket, you understand? I know I know, you can say, “Hey, Coach Meardon, but isn’t the point also to try to stop the other team from putting the ball into the basket?” Yeah yeah, I get you, but the other team is also trying to put the ball into the basket. You know what I’m saying? Every team we play is going to want to put the BALL into the BASKET? You get it? Offense, defense, basketball is about putting the BALL into the BASKET …Dunking, three-pointers, jumpers- it’s all the same thing. You got me?
-You’re weird.

Mr. Meardon Subs High school

“Alright class, I want everyone to stand and turn around. …C’mon, everyone up. look at the map behind you. Even you Jimmy, don’t be an ass, turn around.” Mr. Meardon began scribbling down a note while standing behind the desk at the front of the class. He had just seen Alice through the window of the classroom door. She was across the hall, going through her phone. He was pretty sure Alice was the new band teacher, or was it art? Whatever she taught, she was damn fine. Nice full figure.

“What is this about?”

Still scribbling Mr. Meardon continued: “Children, look at that vast world!”

“We aren’t children!”

“I want everyone to focus on a specific spot.” Mr. Meardon had finished scribbling on a piece of paper and slipped over to the door from the desk where he’d been standing. He nonchalantly pressed the note up against the glass of the door while still facing the students’ backs.

This is what Mr. Meardon pressed up against the glass of the door window.
This is what Mr. Meardon pressed up against the glass of the door window.

“What are you doing Mr. Meardon?”

“Turn around Jimmy.”

Mr. Meardon turned to face the window, still pressing the note to the glass. He made eye-contact with Alice. Her look was simultaneously puzzled and annoyed. He smiled and nodded, to assure her that she was not mistaken. Mr. Meardon motioned for her to come closer, though he immediately left the window and slipped back behind the desk.

“Pick a certain spot on the map. Once you’ve done that, you can sit down again….alright, now, I want you to put your heads down, close your eyes, and envision that spot you stared at.”

“This is stupid.”

Mr. Meardon began scribbling again from behind the desk. “Quiet down.” He said.

“THIS AIN’T 2nd GRADE.”

“That’s enough… I hope you picked a sunny locale Jimmy. Heads down everyone.” Mr. Meardon finished up his note and slipped back to the door. His palm pressed the paper up against the glass while he kept an eye on the students.

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To Mr. Meardon’s surprise, the door opened and he almost tripped into Principal Pantoleono and Alice. The Principal immediately began addressing the class.

“Class, you’re familiar with Mrs. Dupont, our new Health teacher? She’s going to be with you for the rest of the period. I need to borrow Mr. Meardon for a minute.” Principal Pantoleono said all this while holding Mr. Meardon’s note.

*     *     *

The Principal’s office:

LEE -Mr Meardon- You want to see my butt so bad-LY” the Principal corrected.

“You probably won’t be needing me anymore today, will you?”

“No, I don’t think so.”

Mr. Meardon (sample)

Mr. Meardon is a fictitious 30-year-old substitute teacher.

Mr. Meardon was jogging down Broadway in Cambridge, it took him a while to realize the noise was children screaming out his last name. He let his eyes dart over to verify. The bulk of the kids clinging to the fence was the 2nd grade class he’d substitute taught for two weeks last autumn.

 “YOU SAW US MR. MEARDON!”

“Yeah Mr. Meardon!”

“Miiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiister Meeeeeeeeeeeeeeear-donnnnnnnnnnnnn!”

The kids took a little break to allow Claire, a kindergartener to show her pipes. She was standing a few feet back from the group, most of whom were clinging to the fence, with both hands wrapped around bars. Claire had her head pointed upward, toward the heavens when made her impressive cry. She was Danny’s little sister. She’d always managed to find her way into Mr. Meardon’s class.

 “Mr. BEARDon, don’t ignore us!” Yup, Danny had said Mr. Beard-on, acknowledging Mr. Meardon’s seven-days growth. Danny was very smart. You call the kids by their first names and they call you Mr. Meardon.

He was grown-up to them. No, that’s bullshit. There was irony in their cries. He wasn’t grown-up. He was faking and they all knew it. He was a free child, just on the outside.

He was 31. The fact that he could teach was a miracle. They gave him his high school diploma because his brother was dying. They got him into college despite his disgusting transcript, and they got him to graduate at age 29. They was everyone- Mom, aunts & uncles, The Church. The baton was passed with every move. They let him run all over the country, paying for bits here and there. They They They. He got help from everyone. They got younger. College students. Younger and younger. They helped him with resumes and math homework. They calmed him down and kept him from walking out of jobs. Sometimes. He slept on their couches and ate their food. Who was he kidding? He slept in their BEDS. He cried to them, but not until recently. And they understood. He cried and they understood and they liked him more. And that made him cry more.

Mr. Meardon had a lot of nicknames over the years. Air-head. Delington when he worked in a Deli. On his mission he was Elder JFK. A girl he’d loved called him Meardy. His old step-father called him Destructo Oblivion. Mr. Meardon had recalled Destructo Oblivion in recent years and it made him smile every time. The old step-dad wasn’t so bad- he’d named Mr. Meardon’s older brother Little Lord Fauntleroy…