JOY TO END ALL OTHERS
I sat down in the back row and surveyed
the rest of the class. Mostly, they looked like the spoiled children of wealthy
and overprotective parents. I looked around the room itself. Cracked plaster,
peeling paint, flickering fluorescent lights, stains on the ceiling and carpet.
The place just smelled funny. Smelled like death. Or extreme boredom, who
At least it was only two hours. I leaned back, put my feet up, and opened
my can of Diet Coke. Conversations were going on all around me, but I didn't
really listen to any of them. I was sitting in the "losers' section", as
we "losers" deemed it. We were the people who dressed in a non-preppy manner
and did not join the other class members in their games of tennis at the
club where their parents (mostly Muffy and Buffy and Claude and the thirds
and fourths) spent every free hour. We also didn't go to their weekend parties
in the gated communities where their butlers would answer the door and use
the phrase "very good, sir" to an excess...
My mind finally managed to come back to me. Sitting in the ugly brown metal
chair, my bum was becoming a bit raw and required my repositioning
At this point we were supposed to be watching a video, but most of the class
had fallen into a state of unconsciousness. Their eyes, open, did not see,
and their ears, though functional, heard only the unbearably slow clocks
ticking away in their heads.
I heard someone stifle a yawn. Too late, for someone else had already caught
it. The yawning epidemic traveled quickly around the room, and I too developed
an acute case of the disease.
Suddenly, our instructor declared break time and shut off the video. Life
was restored to the bodies, and my fellow drivers' ed students and I were
walking about, talking, laughing--just as teenagers ought.
Ten minutes later, the whole lot of us re-materialized into our seats. Off
went the lights, on went the video.
A different mood settled into the room. I fidgeted restlessly, noticing many
others do the same. The yawns seemed to have died down a bit, but the germ
was still there, and a few of us still were not immunized.
I glanced up at the screen, where some funny-looking people were demonstrating
driving situations and trying to act.... failure is all in how you look at
it, but I do wish they'd experiment elsewhere. Colorful diagrams, meaningless
statistics, and cheap animation came at me, accompanied by monotonous narration
to lull me into slumber...
Someone dropped something that woke me up. I didn't want to wake up.
The last 20 minutes or so of class I spent in a yawn. One yawn. One very
The yawn to end all yawns.
Instructor dismissed us, and all of the zombies stood and walked, dazed,
into the blinding sunlight and blinked a bit, awaiting their rides.