Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Perfect Pencil

Once, while attending City College, I had gotten it into my mind that I needed a pencil sharpener. I didn’t want just any pencil sharpener, I wanted the one that was mounted to every classroom wall of grade school of my youth. Fortunately, City College wasn’t flush in cash, so old sharpeners were mounted proudly near the door of every classroom.

I made a plan to steal one.

After my mid-afternoon piano class, I walked down the hallway of the humanities building, checking every door to see if they were locked. The night before I gathered the appropriate tools to steal a sharpener: screwdriver, Phillips-head, hammer and pliers - a burglary kit.

I found an open door and quickly went to work. It was held on by 4 screws that easily unscrewed. With a gentle tap of the hammer, it reluctantly came off the wall. IT had probably been there for 40 years. I quickly put the burglary kit back into my backpack with my new/old pencil sharpener.

Before leaving, I got an idea. I went to the blackboard and drew a large marijuana leaf in chalk. To the right of it, I wrote in letters that vertically spanned the height of the chalkboard: Smoke Pot. In my mind, I thought I was doing a service to the students who would see this. It would give them joy and make them laugh or at least shake their heads. In reality, I was the only who got the joke. I left thinking about the Puerto Rican kids in grade school constantly writing “PR Power” on the chalkboard with a graphic closed fist.

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