Life unstupefied

You don’t often get moments like this:

One week, we were told to prepare an oral book report to present in front of the class. For my report, I chose a book by Mary Stewart called The Moon Spinners. I had seen the Disney movie with Hayley Mills, and had liked it very much, so I was pleased to have found the book. However, I did not like the book nearly as much as the movie.

Every oral book report had to end with a critique, so when I got up in front of the class I summed up my report by saying that I had not enjoyed the book because I thought it was stupid.

I’m a Mary Stewart fan: I’ve read several of her books, of which This Rough Magic (1964) was my favorite; somehow, I don’t think it was Disney-able.

Anyway, one does not call a book “stupid” without consequences:

I was dispatched post haste to look up the word “stupid” in the dictionary… Every eye in the classroom was on me, and I could hear myself swallow. Finally, facing the classroom which by this time looked more like a firing squad, I began to read the definition out loud. This is what it said:

stu’ pid (adjective) dull, uninteresting: a stupid book.

In that moment, it was as if every cloud in the sky had parted all at once, and I was being touched directly and most personally by the hand of God Almighty Himself. The roar of laughter from my classmates was spontaneous and deafening.

I would have chimed in: “Toldja so.” And, had I done so, I’d be getting out of detention, oh, a week from next Tuesday.

1 comment

  1. Francis W. Porretto »

    3 July 2013 · 5:25 am

    Exactly the same events, except for the specific book at issue, occurred in my tenth-grade English class (1965, for those of you keeping score at home). Clearly, English teachers are averse to having the meat of their subject matter dismissed in this fashion.

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