Dear you guys,
My second missive on rebellion is dedicated to you. First I want to tell you that I am so bummed your awesome game was banned from the yard last week. I, for one, was just so impressed that you’re three and can’t wipe your own asses, yet managed somehow to invent and execute a game in which you could all participate peaceably and collectively. My interest was piqued from the moment I stepped outside and saw you. You were in a very large circle, walking clockwise around one child lying face-up in the middle, his eyes closed. You chanted, and this is where you really sold me, “Dead body, dead body, dead body!” On the third of which the boy in the middle rose from the pavement, arms outstretched, like a motherfucking zombie, and chased the shit out of the rest of you. I did try to protect your creepy little game; when that other teacher came over to ask me what you were doing, I shrugged my shoulders and said, “I can never understand anything they’re saying.” Unfortunately, while you are really shit for communicating anything else, when you’re chanting “DEAD BODY” in what appears to be a cross between Duck-Duck-Goose and some bizarre pagan ritual… it is rather hard to mistake for anything else.
But I was most impressed when your game was banned and you were told to disperse, and a small group of you remained in your circle to play what was, you later explained, to that same teacher, a new and entirely unrelated game entitled “Dead Body” (what you lack in creativity, you make up for in cojones.) In a brief and entirely uncharacteristic moment of ambition, I asked the other teacher to let you play. Because it was a game that you had invented, and you should be encouraged to invent things, even if they’re creepy, plus you weren’t hitting each other (or myself, mostly) with those fucking golf balls so, really, wasn’t it a win-win? And I felt the adrenaline rush of being a rebel again, fighting on your behalf for your creative freedom to play whatever fucked up game you want.
When I was in elementary school, in my spare time I authored a series of short stories starring the kids in my grade, embroiled in a bitter and often violent battle of the sexes, entitled REVENGE. In typical fashion, it generally served as a vehicle in which I could verbally eviscerate the boy with whom I was currently in love. It was filled with booby traps and snowball fights, with clandestine plans and lots of pathos. I would read the stories to my brothers while they were in the bath, often the only opportunity I got to road test my work with a (physically) captive audience. When we were given a journal in school and told that we could write whatever we wanted in it, I jumped at the opportunity to immortalize my stories in number two pencil. And, afterwards, when we were asked if anyone would like to share what they had written, my hand was the first one up.
My brothers are an okay audience. They were better before they could talk. Much better before the ability to leave snide comments on every single one of my Facebook posts. But I had never known a reaction to my work quite like my classmates’ reaction to REVENGE PART ONE. They hooted and hollered, cheered and booed appropriately. I had been performing my own work my entire life, but had not known, until that moment, what an unparalleled joy it was to slay an audience.
It was official: REVENGE was a sensation. In the weeks that followed, it sparked a number of spinoffs which were, in keeping with true literary tradition, often cruder, more violent, and far less structurally complex than my original. They eventually grew so widespread, and the content so inappropriate, that my teacher finally proclaimed that REVENGE stories were banned from school, permanently. For some reason, I took this as pertaining only to my peers’ spinoff stories, but when I offered to share the latest installment of my saga the next day, I got a point crossed off my fucking star and was asked to tear those pages out and take them home.
My mother continued to surprise me by not being upset, but rather seeming quite proud to be the mom of North Springfield Elementary School’s literary Che Guevara. With her encouragement, I began to no longer mourn the loss of my stories and instead appreciate the gift my teacher gave me. My peers looked to me now in a way they had never before; I, Mikayla Park, nice, responsible, straight A kid, was suddenly a vanguard, purveyor of incendiary content, enemy of the state. The REVENGE stories would have died out on their own; it was elementary school, we had the attention span of a number two pencil. In banishing them, my teacher only ensured their continued duration, because something worth banning is certainly something worth holding onto. By striking them down, she only made them stronger. Like in Star Wars, guys. And, as a teacher, the minute you make yourself comparable to a bad guy in Star Wars, you’ve seriously blown it.
So for the small, three-year-old “Dead Body” cadre, for the kid who made a gun out of legos and then qualified it as “a… blaster that shoots… candy,” for the artist who clearly drew a vampire cat with blood dripping out of his mouth, who then scribbled a jelly donut into his hand as a safety afterthought; this one’s for you. Get on with your bad selves. Creativity is a right and a precious gift, but so is being revolutionary, and everyone should know what it is to be one, at least once.
Vive Le Revenge,