Career Day - A Piece Of My Mind
“I've been making a list of the things they don't teach you at school. They don't teach you how to love somebody. They don't teach you how to be famous. They don't teach you how to be rich or how to be poor. They don't teach you how to walk away from someone you don't love any longer. They don't teach you how to know what's going on in someone else's mind. They don't teach you what to say to someone who's dying. They don't teach you anything worth knowing.”-- Neil Gaiman
A lovely young lady sent me an email asking if I ever had to go to a child's school to be in a career day.
Well, I do not have any kids of my own. However I have had an experience as a writer for an elementary school career day.
Well let me correct myself slightly, I do not have children. However I do have god-children of close friends. So instead of the child calling me GODFATHER, I tell them, “Call me Uncle Bennet.” Most of those children are now grown into young men and women with children of their own. Many still message or phone call me.... and STILL call me Uncle Bennet. A title that I still treasure and enjoy.
Well my Godson Timothy had a career day for his third grade class. This was a number of years ago (1990's), this young man has children of his own now. However, at this time, he went to his mother, asked if Uncle Bennet could be the adult to do the career day. He has two great career parents, but he wanted me for some reason. When I got the call from his mother, I said “Sure just tell me where and when.” Without a minute of thought. I booked this in my schedule without a care. In my mind, there was pride in being asked to the child's school for career day.
That morning, I drove Tim to school. He had two backpacks, rather than his normal one. I wondered why, but gave it limited thought on the matter.
This career day in his classroom was like a show and tell with adults. The child would go in front of the class and talk about their parent or family member. We were there for the morning session (from nine am to noon), then we would have lunch together with the child.
I sat comely in the back of the room with five other adults. In the back with me sat a noted trial lawyer, a heart surgeon, a bookkeeper for the Redskins, a TV news director (who I am good friends with) and a well-known local pastry chef.
Each child brought their family member to a chair of honor in the front of the room. The adult sat as many doe-eyed children stared, as the child regaled of this family member and his/her career.
I was the last adult put through this show and tell this day. I say this in hindsight, the children could have brought life size pictures of their family member and it would have worked. There was a method to my godson's madness and I was going to see his master plan in action as he grabbed that second backpack and brought me and pack to the front of the room.
Timothy started “My Uncle Bennet is a famous writer.”I just smiled and listened, “He’s written newspaper columns, magazine columns, plays, poems and a few books.” That backpack gnawed in my head, why did he bring it up to the front?
He went to the backpack and brought out a few magazines and a newspaper...A Washington Entertainment magazine, A Scarlet Street Magazine, Strange New Worlds and one of my AUDIOWORLD newspaper columns with the whole newspaper. The newspaper was folded over so you could see my photo. Timothy continued “He has written many things. He is a noted reviewer and a columnist. Uncle Bennet, (he pointed to me and smiled) even had taken me to an advance screening of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle: Secret of the Ooze movie and the after party.”
This got the children riled up with smiles and giddy laughter. Ever get the feeling you were set up? And I was by a ten year old!
Dear sweet Tim looked loving at me and then his classmates. “And my Uncle knows EVERYONE in the entertainment business!” He has the classmate eating out of the palm of his hand. He went back to the backpack and pulled out photos I had given him from conventions and book expos. “He knows Ray Bradbury, Hal Clement and Stephen King” There in color I was with King in one photo, Clement in another photo, Bradbury smiling in another.
From what I saw, this impressed many of the adults in the back of the room. However I was feeling their stares and the daggers coming out of their eyes. I was getting uncomfortable in my chair of honor.
Then, Tim threw it the kicker I did not see coming. “He also knows Donatello, Batman and Spider man!”
The teacher tried to regain over this presentation. “Tim, Donatello, Batman and Spider man are not real.”
He then pulled out a picture from the Turtle's after party with Donatello, him and I. A Batman photo where I shook Batman's hand, which was a picture from the DC comic’s booth at a book expo. The Spider man photo which was from a comic book convention were Spidey and I held out our web hands. A green goo put on hands to be webbing.
The teacher could not argue with photographic proof. She said in a sarcastic tone, like I had arranged this “Well Thank you, Uncle Bennet. Why don't you join the other adults in the back of the room?”
I had never done a career day event before. The adults greeted me when I sat back in the back with an air of disdain. I sat back in my chair to the gaze off as most of the class stared at me.
The teacher tried to regain order. “I want you to sit next to the adult whose career you would like to do when you grow up.” Almost the whole class did mass exodus-ed to the front of my chair. Many of the children wanted to touch me or get my autograph since I shook Batman's hand.
I could see Tim smiling in the back of his classmates. I did not know whether to hug him or strangle him. I see why he did not want his parents there.
At lunch, many kids who were not in Tim's class pointed at me. Now fame is strange bird, especially when the whole third grade suddenly knows who you are.
I had more children that day want me to be their friend. A few of the boys asked if I could get Batman to come to their birthday parties in the following weeks. I said they may have to have one of their parents call the Bat Cave and see if Batman would be free. One little girl asked me if I knew if Spider man was single. I said I think he has a girlfriend.
I laugh about it now. Then it was not so funny.
THE PROMPT OF THE MONTH
You meet an alien who just got off the spaceship. He asks you “What's a quarter?” How can you explain to him the concept of money?
Until next time, reach for the stars!!!
Columnist: Bennet Pomerantz has covered the Audio medium for the last 20 years. He has syndicated newspaper columns, AUDIOWORLD and "Movies of Your Mind", in Affaire De Coeur Magazine. In which he showcase his vast and diverse knowledge of the spoken word medium.
He is also known as a media review critic (books, music, graphic novels, DVDs, CDs) in his weekly syndicated newspaper column "A Piece of the Page". He also is a ranked media reviewer for Amazon.com. http://www.facebook.com/bennet.pomerantz1 / E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org