Saturday, July 6, 2013

the last book I ever read (CivilWarLand in Bad Decline by George Saunders, excerpt five)

from CivilWarLand in Bad Decline by George Saunders:

Every morning four minivans pull up and eighty kids pile out and one supervising adult with a magazine. All day long the kids run wild, indiscriminately pushing the interactive exhibit buttons. Today a group of them surround me and ask why I’m wearing a nightgown. I tell them it’s no nightgown, it’s a frock. One cute little fellow says the hell it is. A little girl calls me Grandma and asks if she can try on my wing harness and I say certainly. The minute she gets it on, however, she makes an obscene gesture and runs off. Those wings are fifteen dollars to replace. I can’t afford that. I’m old and stiff but finally I get her cornered near the Audio Enhancement Module. Just as I get my hands on my wings the supervising adult comes rushing up and says how dare I hamper the child’s self-esteem by being critical of her impulses? She tells the little girl that if she takes the wings out into the hall she’ll be free to explore and grow as she sees fit. Then she stands in my path and glares at me.

An hour later the children have left and my wings have not been returned.

So I go down to Administration to break the news to Mr. Spencer, Cleaning Coordinator, praying in my heart for a time-deferred payroll deduction.

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