I found this filed away on my computer, and thought I’d be bold enough to share it with the world.
I was walking to work one morning and on the way I overhead two fellows discussing reading and books. Initially, as you might imagine, I was delighted. Partial disclosure: I work in a field wherein words are mildly important; so my excitement may have been buoyed by the fact that the mere purchase of bound-pieces-of-paper-with-words-on-them may keep me in a state of employ. Nevertheless, I thought to myself, what upstanding young men they must be. I was wooed by the pleasantry of their dialogue and their apparent interest in the literary.
What a distasteful surprise it was then, to hear the close of their repartee. It followed along these lines:
Gentleman One: Yeah man, my girlfriend is reading some sh**.
Gentleman Two: F**k, eh? That sh** takes time, right?
Gentleman One: It’s taken her forever to read this one whole thing.
Gentleman Two: Woah.
Gentleman One: ‘s ok though, she looks good doing it. Like, y’know, a sexy librarian.
Gentleman Two: laughs. Cha!
They say, whoever they are, that the pen is mightier than the sword. I struggled to adhere to this opposition to violence in the moment I heard the two boys. I was kept from a stint in jail only by the thought that they, even combined, may not have the capacity to comprehend a strongly worded letter, or essay or memo.
Clearly, I had not witnessed what could be considered a positive exemplar of the results of our education system.
I did have to wonder though, what precisely was my problem with their banter. I can’t simply brandish my supposedly mighty corrective red pen at them without having a very specific reason to be displeased. Was it their aversion to the literary that bothered me so deeply? Perhaps it was their inadvertent sexism that I found so troubling. Was it, more simply, their cues to our direly ineffective curriculum? Maybe, it was the fact that their conversation, at first, sounding promising, and dare I say intellectual, that I was just gutted by the crushing defeat with which I was faced. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to rationalise the sadness I felt.