Sunday, November 28, 2004

Animal Boy
Wednesday was fun. Not that many kids showed up, and I didn’t even bother planning for my morning class. I gave them a little bit of work to begin with (“What are you thankful for? What are you NOT thankful for?”,) but once the second half of the double period rolled around I just sat down and started chatting with a couple of kids while I let everybody else do whatever. It was all very chill. No one was really abusing their freedom. In fact, it was quieter than most days when I’m actually trying to teach.

At some point I decided to stand up and facilitate a brief discussion of Thanksgiving, just to see if they knew what it was all about.

“Ok guys, what’s tomorrow?”

“No school!”


“Day turkey! Turkey day! You eat turkey, Meester?”

“Right, right. Thanksgiving. We eat turkey on Thanksgiving." I poked my spare tire out and rubbed my belly. "Pablo, what sound does a turkey make?”

Pablo Pernil is a funny kid. Skinny, scruffy, and snaggle-toothed, dude has an uncanny ability to imitate just about any sound you can imagine. He’s particularly enamored with bodily functions, but he’s got a real talent for animals as well.

“Wha?” he looked up, startled, as if I’d caught him doing something he shouldn’t have.

“Turkey, Pablo. Pabo. Gobble gobble, let’s hear it.”

The powers of onomatopoeia are insufficient to recreate the brilliance of Pablo’s turkey impression. The ethereal sound – perfectly capturing the chaotic, confused and frightened feeling that is essential to the turkey’s signature utterance- came from somewhere deep within his throat, as if more than one tongue was at work. It was poetry.

The class was impressed as well. I decided to see what Pablo could do.

“Cat! Gato, cat, c’mon!”





The kid could not be stumped. His Elephant was especially impressive.

On a particularly difficult one, "whale" for instance, he would grow very still and look at me with great seriousness, eyes wide and slightly puzzled. He would look up, searching for inspiration in some mystical place where the gods of mimicry keep hidden their greatest treasures. He would then look back at me and nod slightly, his eyes even wider than before, now filled with the affirmation of a shared profound truth, and a series of supernatural sounding underwater whistles, beeps, and pings would emerge forth from his crooked-toothed maw.

Do they offer college scholarships for things like this? Are they making a "Police Academy" sequel anytime soon? Kid could really go places. I’m already looking into getting him on Amateur Night at the Apollo.

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