Since it’s back-to-school days, I’m thinking back to the Day. My English teachers, and I’m sure yours, issued the ultimate in essay assignments, “What did I do on my summer vacation.”
Unfortunately the essay gods were not kind to me. I had no answer to that question. You see, my summer days were boring as heck. So boring, I won’t even try to extrapolate on the boredom. Take my word for it. They were boring, and I didn’t want my teachers to get a case of the boredoms. Can you contemplate how many thousands of these exercises in torture the average teacher must have to endure?
Which left me no alternative but to be creative. And creative I became.
There are many forms an essay may take. The first year, following my new strategy, I gave my teacher a list. And not just any list. I gave her a list that would have made Alexander the Great proud.
Why would Alex be proud? I became him with a list of my conquests, beginning with El Gordo, the Gordian Knot. The pyramids, the Parthenon, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. I gave her the names of places she’d never heard of, like Akkad, Phrygia, Persepolis, Lagash and Memphis. And I don’t mean, Memphis, Tennessee.
The next year I went descriptive. I was Cleopatra floating down the Nile, watching the crocodiles crocodile and ibises ibis-ing. Then I saw Marc Antony on the shore. His nose would give any nose a run for its money. And man, he had one heck of a sword.
One year I tried out a Tom Sawyer and a Huckleberry Finn. After all, they’d put down their summer vacations as “The Adventures of–.” Any adventures of is a summer vacation in my book. I let the teacher know I had been such a good entrepreneur. I sold places to the paint-my-picket fence celebration. When it was finished, I had enough money to hire a raft and sail down to New Orleans on the Mississippi.
Another year I took on a Just-call-me-Ishmael and gave her my best Moby Dick impression. Then I related how I had done a Sherlock Holmes and solved the case of who ate Grandma’s apple pie. I cannot tell a lie. It was me.
Then one year I decided autobiography was the thing. I wrote about how I found my Uncle Ralph’s treasure trove of Playboy Magazines. I had never seen anything like it. All she had to say, “That sure puts the phrase ‘carpe diem’ in a whole new perspective.”