Ah, school days, school days, Golden Mean and Right-Hand Rule days. Such fondness, with which I remember. The Compass-ed Square, the All-Seeing Eye... ah, indeed. To be schooled to the first, the second, even to the third degree.
As is often the case, I am concerned that a difference in the meanings of words might cloud the clarity of our communication. The term school has at least two very disparate and distinct meanings. Whereas among humans the term appears to signify "the process of edifying juvenile humans in very large herds via a system of bells, confinement, and the completing of forms," with most denizens of the seas — including squid — a "school" refers to a much looser grouping with less regimented goals.
Squid Schools are much smaller affairs — rarely exceeding a dozen individuals. In lieu of being housed in large, corridored compounds, they are situated in a single room building. Where I came of age, in Kettering, OH — the youngest of the six surviving spawn of Jonathan and Martha Architeuthis — our growing community was served by two such structures, each situated atop a grassy hill, within a white picketted fence which also enclosed a single, ancient oak to which had been secured a rope swing with wooden seat. Each day as a young squidling, I would don my straw hat, shortpants and leathern Buster-cum-Eva Braun's, and then, books a-clutched in my hunting tentacles, would skip down the dirt-and-gravel thoroughfare accompanied by my young dog, Rings-of-Fire, who gamboled and played at my shoe's heel. Unfortunatly, arriving at the school house gate, I was perpetually denied access, owing largely to the fact that, as my parents were tax refusers, there was scant justification for our utilization of public services. Also, it seemed, something in my visage struck many of the other children both mute and shrouded them in hysterical blindness through which they could only see terrible, pulsing colors from beyond the stars. Although this lack of schooling troubled not my older siblings, for me the denial was an insufferable privation, and I almost invariably snuck close to the building, skulking outside her windows and gleaning what book knowledge I might afore the groundskeeper and townspeople, with their torches and pitchforks and torts, chased me from within the learned confines of the white picket fence.
(I did once compose a mournful poetic fragment on this very theme:
With envy and anger an evil spiritEvidently, the Detroit schooling of children halted its yearly progress this week. My typist, Jarwaun, was possessed of a panic on last Thursday's eve for just this reason. It would seem that, his American History lector — a cruel, pale man of gleaming pate and flashing, eldritch eyes — did choose to loose the cruelty upon his charges and oblige them, on the very final day of schooling, to complete an at-the-home examination of many pages and questions.
endured the dole in his dark abode,
that he heard each day the din of revel
high in the hall: there harps rang out,
clear song of the singer. He sang who knew
tales of the early time of man,
how the Almighty made the earth,
fairest fields enfolded by water,
set, triumphant, sun and moon
for a light to lighten the land-dwellers,
and braided bright the breast of earth
with limbs and leaves, made life for all
of mortal beings that breathe and move.
So lived the clansmen in cheer and revel
a winsome life, till one began
to fashion evils, that field of hell.
Grendel this monster grim was called,
march-riever mighty, in moorland living,
in fen and fastness; fief of the giants
the hapless wight a while had kept
since the Creator his exile doomed.
On kin of Cain was the killing avenged
by sovran God for slaughtered Abel.
Ill fared his feud, and far was he driven,
for the slaughter's sake, from sight of men.
Of Cain awoke all that woful breed,
Etins and elves and evil-spirits,
as well as the giants that warred with God
weary while: but their wage was paid them! )
"Mr. Roach say this is one-third our grade!" Jarwaun moaned, "I can't do all this! It's all crazy questions I never seen," he did cry out, waving in his hand's grasp a clutch of papers, "My pops's gonna kill me!"
"Like what," Rob asked, muting the moans of his computer research, "I had to do all kinds of make-up work when I was a kid. I'm good at extra credit shit."
Jarwaun released a puff of exasperated air, shuffled through the sweaty pages, "Like, damn, like 'Who's buried in Grant's tomb?' — we didn't even never study no Grant!"
"Shit," quoth Rob, "That's no sweat." He snatched the pages from Jarwaun's hands, "His two wives are buried in his tomb. It's a trick question."
"Hells yeah; your teach wouldn't ask something so obvious except it's a trick. It's Grant's wives in Grant's tomb. They're doin' it doggie style. He paid a guy to set it up."
"You sure?" Jarwaun did ask, his noble brow limned by dubiety.
"I'm pretty sure," Rob shrugged. "I read it somewhere. Or saw it on a show. Lord A?"
"I AM FAIRLY CERTAIN IT IS THE CASE. IT IS CERTAINLY THE CASE WITH EITHER GRANT OR GARFIELD."
"One," Rob proclaimed, still shuffling among the pages, "— J., get out a notebook; we'll pound through this shit in no time — One, Lord A., Garfield is a fucking cat — loves sleep and lasagna, hates Monday's and Odie — and cats can't be elected because there isn't a fucking cat in the world that ever lived to be 35. Two, the question is 'Who is buried in Grant's tomb'; it would be fucking nuts if it wasn't someone at least sorta related to Grant. Unless Grant had a cat . . ."
Jarwaun paused in his diggings through his back's pack, "Wait, you sayin' that it was his cat now, and not his wife?"
At this moment Molly did enter, and asked after what it was we were doing in lieu of calculating the azimuthal quantum numbers for Oak Ridge, as per our contract.
"WE ARE AIDING YOUNG JARW—"
"Shut up. I'm still not talking to you. Rob, what are you up to?"
Rob surreptitiously deactivated his computer's monitor screen. The garish image of manifold polyamorous human reproduction collapsed to a glowing horizon, then faded to black. "Talking about Garfield and shit."
"The cat or the President?"
"There were two?"
Molly shook her head, affectionately rolling of the eyes, "Yes, Rob. James Garfield, our twentysometeenth president. Wife-swapper, club juggler, junior mathematician. Our first preacher president. Shot in the back in July by a nutbag who wanted to be ambassador to France. Finally died on September 19, 1881."
"Five months later?"
"Fucked up," Rob reflected for a moment. "You think that was a Monday? 'Cause that would radically change that comic strip for me. I'd have to go back and re-read that shit."
Jarwaun now held a pencil and spiralbound notebook — the latter ironically bearing the image of the aforementioned cat who loves to sleep in lasagna, and hates being shot on Mondays — which he flipped open frantically. "OK, what was the number of the one with Grant's tomb?"
"And he was a dude, not a cat?"
"Yes, not a cat," Molly confirmed.
Rob leaned back and grunted.
"Which one was Grant's tomb? On the test?" Jarwaun repeated.
Rob looked to the papers, "17."
Jarwaun wrote frantically, "Yeah, yeah. OK. His wife is buried there —"
"Wives, J. Doin' it doggie-style. They're twins, and the taller one has a strap-on."
Jarwaun looked up. "A strap on what? Like a chin strap?"
Rob blanched. "Sorta." His eyes shifted uncomfortably, "Doesn't matter. Wives are buried in the tomb is enough. This is short answer," he flipped forward, then back, "Shit, J., there are only a dozen short answer, then 20 true-false, and the rest are all multiple-choice. There isn't even an essay. This is no sweat."
Molly patted Rob's shoulder with grudging affection, "Jarwaun," she said, looking at the windows toward the golden shores of Windsor. "You should do your own homework. Trust me; that's the only lesson there is in this take-home test. You," she said pointedly, looking to me, "Should do the fucking math. All the data is up on the big board; you can see it from where you are."
Late into the night, as I calculated Oak Ridge's azimuthal quantum numbers, then tenderly reduced the Schrodinger equations for each wavefunction, I watched Jarwaun and Rob stooped over their papers, disputing which was the fattest president, the length of the Hundred Years war, the starting date of the War of 1812, the relative masses of a kilo of feathers and a kilo of bricks, and the ranking of the runner who passes the man currently in second place. As they toiled, I reflected that, perchance, I had been little cheated by being denied a formal education.
School is Out, School is Out
The Teachers let the monkeys out;
One was jailed
Both asked, "Lord, how have I failed?"
Your Giant Squid
Love the Giant Squid? Buy his first book.
Share on Facebook
Tweet about this Piece
Poor Mojo's Tip Jar: