Sunday, June 6, 2010

A Tale From My Childhood: The Plight of Mr. Jenkins

The Lord of the Flies is a disturbing book. Boys on an island without adult supervision turn on each other and their tropical paradise descends into chaos. This book is a metaphor for the nature of man, society, the dangers of talking pig heads, and that glasses can be powerful tools. This book is a work of fiction. However, in my experience, the basic premise of the book is true; kids are crazy. The small English town I live in is overrun by kids (literally no older than fourteen) walking around the main street with bottles of alcohol, cigarettes, and babies in tow. I wish I could say that I was taken aback to witness this spectacle in the quaint English countryside where cottages abound, the tea flows like wine, and beautiful British accents instinctively flock like the Salmon of Capastrano, however I am not surprised. You see, since a young age I have witnessed mayhem wrought by children who have been left unsupervised.

Let me tell you a story…

I was maybe seven, no more than eight years old, and my family had moved to a new town in rural Arkansas. Going to a new school can be a scary thing for a child, but my parents reassured me that I was going to quickly make friends. On the first day of school, my mom dressed me in my best purple and green wind-suit and my dad drove me to school. We walked down the hall to my classroom past cardboard cutouts of the Berenstein Bears teaching us math and a poster of a pirate talking about the essential vitamins found in dairy products. (How a swashbuckling pirate had the time to become an expert on dietetics and nutrition I will never know.) We entered the classroom and my dad introduced me to the teacher and some of the kids. My fellow first graders all seemed nice enough. Little did I know that beneath the thin veneer of civility lurked an evil so insidious I cringe to recall it.
Things went well for a while. I made some friends on the playground and at the cafeteria, yet in the classroom I decided to busy myself on developing my artistic prowess. At the time I was dabbling in Impressionism (having not yet ventured into the more modern pointillism or cubism). I was mastering this craft through a practice which all of the Great Masters from Monet to Manet had employed; taking a piece of paper and tracing pictures out of a coloring book. I had Donald Duck down pat.
One fateful day I was at the back of the classroom working on a picture of a bear giving a badger a high five. Mrs. Vaughn had stepped out to the office for a few minutes. My fellow first graders were milling about at the front of the classroom, when in walked Mr. Jenkins carrying a stepladder and a spare fluorescent light. Mr. Jenkins* was a kindly old man who worked as the janitor in his spare time. He walked into the room, set up his stepladder and began to work on replacing the faulty light. The first graders walked forward, their curious glances turning into menacing glares. Apparently Mr. Jenkins had done something to upset the first grade crime family. I set my pencil down and looked up when I heard the yells.
“Okay children… take it easy… easy now,” said Mr. Jenkins as the kids moved closer. They began to grab him and the stepladder. (In reality, I honestly do not know what exactly they were trying to do.) I watched in shock as Mr. Jenkins let out a yell and fell to the floor. The children screamed in triumph. “That’ll teach him to come onto our turf and try to fix our lights!” yelled Kevin. (Kevin did not actually say that. That part is not true.)
The next thing I remember is Mrs. Vaughn coming back into the room and telling all of us that she was very disappointed in us and that Mr. Jenkins had broken his arm. From then on Mr. Jenkins walked around with a sling and gave Mrs. Vaughn’s classroom a wide berth.

-Kevin is now in a state penitentiary doing hard time for hate crimes against the service industry. (Not true)
-Mr. Jenkins entered the witness protection program and now lives in _______ working as a ______ under the name _________. (Not true)
-Mrs. Vaughn went on to teach us about how baby chicks hatch in an incubator. (True)
-Due to a shortage of coloring books, my foray into fine arts was cut short. (It is true that I did not pursue a career in the fine arts.)

The moral of this story is that whether kids have country accents or Cockney accents they will go crazy without adult supervision.

*Some names have been changed to protect the innocent.