So, I'm getting ready to give my daily quiz in 5th period sophomore Honors class. They're so well-trained; all of them already have everything off their desks except the requisite half-sheet of paper and either a pen or a pencil. I scan the room and note their eager, anticipatory faces. They've all read the three assigned chapters of To Kill a Mockingbird, or at least if they haven't, one or two of them have downloaded the chapter summaries from Sparknotes.com and are hoping to maybe get a couple of the basic plot questions right. I'm just about to read the first question aloud when something odd catches my eye.
I turn to my right and look at the desktop of Ben, my little Alternative Rocker Boy. I absolutely love Ben, who is emo-skinny, has gorgeous red hair in a very stylish straggly cut, plays drums and bass guitar in two bands, and says, "thank you" every time I hand him a test, a graded paper, a quiz, or a worksheet. He also has dimples and very cool glasses and the kind of ad-agency printing for handwriting that you just know means he is creative and mature for his age and will probably end up having an awesome job like managing a charity co-op art gallery for musicians in SoHo with Bono, Madonna, and that one guy who started Live Aid on its board of directors. (Crap! Who the hell is that guy?)
Anyway, back to Ben and the thing that catches my eye. He has something on his desk. This is highly unusual because Ben, for all his individuality, is not a rulebreaker. I stare at it quizzically. Because...it is half a loaf of Italian bread. On his desk. Just sitting there. Not even sliced or anything. So, I just sort of look at it, thinking for a few moments. And Ben is just patiently waiting for me to begin the quiz, but everyone else has followed my stare and is also looking at The Bread. So, I smile a very small smile, and Ben smiles back at me--a lovely, winning, gorgeous Ben-smile.
"Expecting a flock of ducks?" I inquire.
Ben looks at me, very serious. He says, "No." Sadly, all of them are used to my frequent bouts of random attempts at not only humor, but odd ways to introduce discussion topics. Doubtless, he thought this could be either.
I press on. "Perhaps a butter delivery, then?"
Ben tilts his head, rather like a dog whose owner has given it an unfamiliar command. Again, the smile. "No."
(The rest of the class, it should be noted, followed this exchange visually as if it were a ping-pong match. At this point, they all turned to me.)
But I'm in agony:
What now? Is Ben toying with me? Does he really not know what I'm talking about? Can I risk another one-liner here, or am I pushing it? The totally cool thing, of course, is to simply drop it and give the quiz. That way, my cool is intact and so is Ben's. But... But... I have to know the story behind that damned Bread!
I gave the quiz.