punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,

How I got in trouble in second grade #14

I was always a big reader back when bookworm was an insult. By second grade, I had read the book, "Jaws," which I will admit I bought because it had a cool shark on the cover. By the time I had finished it, the Spielberg movie based on the book had been released. Naturally, during my book report, the teacher was very skeptical whether I had read the book versus just seeing the movie. So she asked me to open to some random page, read it aloud, and then explain the passage in my own words.

In a moment of cruel fate (for me or the teacher, I am not sure which), the passage I flipped to was where Hendricks had found the half-eaten body of the missing girl. The moment of my book report went something like this:

Teacher: Mr. Larson... that's an awfully big book for you to read.
Me: Uh huh.
Teacher: [looking at me sternly] Are you sure you didn't watch the movie instead?
Me: No, ma'am. It was rated R. My mother was scared to watch it because she heard it might scare her from every swimming in the ocean again, and she likes the ocean.
Teacher: Uh huh. Well, that is a book for adult readers.
Me: It was in the science fiction rack at the library.
Teacher: Okay, so you said you can read and understand this book?
Me: Yes.
Teacher: ... really...?
Me: Yes ma'am.
Teacher: Okay, do this for me. Pick a random page and read it aloud to the class. Then explain what you just read in your own words.
Me: Okay. [flips to book, starts reading blindly] "Suddenly he stopped. For a few seconds he stared, frozen rigid. He fumbled in his pants pocket for his whistle, put it to his lips, and tried to blow; instead he vomited, staggered back, and fell to his knees." See, this guy was from a search party looking for the missing girl. In the beginning of the book, they said that the girl had been eaten while skinny dipping, which means to swim naked.
Teacher: Er...
Me: "Snarled within the clump of weed was a woman's head, sill attached to the shoulders, part of an arm, and about a third of her trunk. The mass of tattered flesh was a mottled blue gray, and as Hendricks spilled his guts to the ground into the sand, he thought--"
Class of sheltered second graders: [gasp]!
Teacher: Okay, that's enough.
Me: "... he thought -- and the thought made him retch again -- that the woman's remaining breast looked as flat as a flower pressed in a memory book."
Class: [giggles at the word "breast"]
Me: That passage means that he only found the top half of the girl because the shark ate the lower half.
Teacher: I GET it, PLEASE sit DOWN!
Me: And she was a mottled blue due to rotting on the beach. Her flat breast was probably due to loss of blood or guts. Hendricks is vomiting because the sight of only half a body made him sick.

She did, and my mother got a big kick out of it. I did not get in any more trouble and my teacher didn't doubt my reading skills anymore.
Tags: book report, childhood, elementary, jaws, school, shark, teacher
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