Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Return of the Midwich Cuckoos

At school I today I discovered that an epidemic of spooky "staring" had broken out several days before.  After the school-wide flag salute, the principal came on the P.A. system and announced that there was to be no more "eye-popping," that "surrounding people and 'eyeballing' is bullying or worse."   Kids had been tormenting each other with demonic, bloodshot ping-pong-bally ogling.   Obviously, I reasoned, some kids would be better at this cartoony exercise than others--like being double-jointed or skilled at that icky eyelid trick your cousin was always pulling at family gatherings.  As the day went on and I investigated this gotta-see phenomenon, I sensed an almost supernatural, Exorcist level fear associated with the behavior.  It was bad ju-ju. 

"What's this staring thing all about?" I asked the third graders.  "Show me.  Come on . . . nobody's going to get in trouble."

After a bit more coaxing I got a group of 3 girls and a boy to give me the treatment.  They surrounded me in a rough semi-circle and did a startling alien act right out of Village of the Damned. (John Wyndam's classic SF novel The Midwich Cuckoos, about an English hamlet whose women simultaneously give birth to children with glowing golden eyes and mind-control powers has been filmed at least twice with that title; at one point the little creeps force the villagers to attack each other with pitchforks and other farm implements).  The kids dropped their arms, thrust their heads forward, and bugged out their glassies.  I felt impaled.  One girl already had owl eyes, so the effect was like the emergence of a new life form.  Another could spin her irises, creating wobbling black holes in the air. 

"That's pretty cool," I said.  Then I struggled with the need to spout the usual "You heard what the principal said," bureaucracy-guff.   I resisted.

I never saw an actual eyeball attack that day, and felt very disappointed.  The quashing had done its work.  I did have to deal with a tiresome number of false alarms and accusations and denials:  "She's putting the eyeballs on me!"  "Stop staring!"  "I'm just looking at the lunch menu!  Gawww!!!" 

More than usually bored I spent much of the day envisioning small groups of eye-bugging children forcing teachers against each other in harmless eraser battles, marking each other up with colored Sharpies, giving paper cuts in the Xerox room, or raiding mini-fridges of fruity energy drinks and the occasional mini booze bottle.

Well, what the hell else am I going to use as a counterpoint to district sensations like the new "facilitation method" that involves "use of oral language, appropriate body motions, age-leveled diction, selected technology and visual aids, and measured eye-contact" to convey ideas?

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