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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

School’s Out for Summer

It appears the world will have to wait a little longer for my foray into the arena of sitcom writing.

(You hear that enormous underground ‘WHOOOOSH‘? That’s the world, breathing a subterranean sigh of relief.)

I found out today that the writing class my friend Jenn is teaching — which was scheduled to start today, as it happens — was canceled. Today. Seems a little last-minute to me, but I suppose I can’t tell the local Adult Education concern how to run their curriculum. They’re likely too busy setting up for their ‘Wok Around the Clock’ cooking class and ‘ESL for Cab Drivers’ course. More on them in a bit.

First, an apology to Jenn. She warned me after my Mustn’t-See TV post last week that I might drive prospective students out of the class with that kind of talk.

(Presumably because they’d see that all the good ideas are already taken. I didn’t ask for her actual reasoning — in case it wasn’t that — so I’ll just assume I’m on track. Seems about right.)

So when I came up with the idea I was actually going to develop in class, I discreetly mentioned it to her in a private email. It’s a sitcom about zookeepers.

(I know, I know. But please — try and hold your applause until the end of the post. Otherwise, we’ll be here all night.)

Soon afterward, she wrote back — to tell me that the class had been canceled. And that if it hadn’t been canceled, she was strongly considering bringing a dunce cap to the classroom.

I was disappointed, of course. It would have been fun to see whatever other student she was referring to stuck in a dunce cap. But I replied to say, ‘Hey — since our Thursday nights are free now, why not get together and chat about this zookeeper bombshell?’ She said, ‘Fine.’

Then she canceled that. Which leads me to the only conclusion I can logically draw:

“I can just see them now, sitting in a darkened classroom, reading notes by the light of a low-powered flashlight, talking about character development or story arcs or how tight the cleavage shots on the lead actress should be.”

Jenn and the other students are having the class without me.

I can just see them now, sitting in a darkened classroom, reading notes by the light of a low-powered flashlight, talking about character development or story arcs or how tight the cleavage shots on the lead actress should be. And all the while wondering:

Did he buy it? He’s not coming, right? Was that a noise outside? Is he here? OHMIGOD, IS HE IN THE BUILDING?!?

(Well, I say “I can see them now”. But that’s just a figure of speech, of course.

There’s a big shrub covering most of the window. And they’re learning in the dark. So it’s all shadows, really.

Note to self: Buy a pair of those infrared ‘Buffalo Bill’ goggles. Better for reading the chalkboard, I’ll bet.)

I suppose I can’t blame them. I did throw ‘Buried, with Children’ and ‘Plumb and Plumber’ out there. Still, it seems a little extreme. They even had some lady from the Adult Education place call me to ‘confirm’ the cancellation. Which went about as well as everything else in this sordid tale of woe. Our discussion of the monetary ramifications of the situation went hauntingly like this:

Adult Ed. Lady: So, we’ve got two options. We can either refund your class fee or apply it as credit on another class. Is there another class you’d like to take now?

Me: Well… all your classes started this week, right?

Adult Ed. Lady: They did.

Me: So I’d have already missed one?

Adult Ed. Lady: That’s right.

Me: That doesn’t sound ideal.

Adult Ed. Lady: Well, the credit would be good for our fall or winter classes, as well.

Me: I dunno. Maybe I’ll just take the refund.

Adult Ed. Lady: No problem; I’ll just need the card number that you used to enroll.

Me: Oh. I don’t have that card any more. The bank switched me from Visa to a MasterCard last month.

Adult Ed. Lady: Oh, of course. You bank with <LocalFeeSuckingBank>, I bet.

Me: Hey, that’s right. I do bank with <LocalFeeSuckingBank>. How’d you know?

Adult Ed. Lady: They did the same thing to me! Switched cards on me, changed the numbers… what a mess, right?

Me: I know! That card went in the trash weeks ago.

Adult Ed. Lady: I completely understand.

Me: Great!

Adult Ed. Lady: So.

Me: So?

Adult Ed. Lady: Would you like the refund, or the class credit?

Me: The refund, please.

Adult Ed. Lady: Great, I’ll just need the card number.

Me: The one I signed up with?

Adult Ed. Lady: Right.

Me: From the card I don’t have?

Adult Ed. Lady: Yes.

Me: The card I trashed weeks ago?

Adult Ed. Lady: Exactly.

Me: I don’t have that card.

Adult Ed. Lady: I see. Well, then.

Me: Yes?

Adult Ed. Lady: Would you like the refund, or the class credit?

Me: Can I get the refund?

Adult Ed. Lady: By the sound of things… no.

Me: But you’re still asking the question.

Adult Ed. Lady: Standard procedure, sir.

Me: I see. Is this, like, a police confession kind of thing? Where if I don’t actually say the words myself, it doesn’t count somehow?

Adult Ed. Lady: I’m not sure, sir. But please — refund, or class credit?

Me: Any way I could get a store voucher out of this deal somehow?

Adult Ed. Lady: Store voucher?

Me: Somewhere that sells infrared goggles, maybe?

Adult Ed. Lady: I don’t think so, sir.

Me: Ah.

Adult Ed. Lady: So. Refund, or class credit?

Me: *sigh* Class credit, I guess.

Adult Ed. Lady: Well done, sir. Everybody gets it right, in the end.

So I’ve got class credit at the local Adult Education emporium, good through the end of the year. Maybe in the fall I’ll sign up for ‘Ballroom Basket Weaving’ or ‘Interpretive Beginner Microsoft Office’ or something, just to use the cash.

But this time I’ll keep my damned fool mouth shut about it beforehand. Even if there are zookeepers involved.

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