First published in Bartleby Snopes, in June, 2016.
On Monday our teacher decided, because the principal decided because the state decided, to remove all desks from the classroom and drill through the floor and plant an olive tree beneath the overhead projector. We threw the chairs out the windows, which our teacher said the principal said the state said would free us from the restrictions of old schooling processes and allow us to better focus on the project at hand: planting the olive tree.
But we couldn’t plant the olive tree. It was too dangerous for us to handle the equipment, and someone’s parents might sue the school; four big men came in—they were muscular and toned like Mexicans, except we didn’t hire Mexicans anymore because they were illegals—and planted the tree in the center of the room below the overhead projector. The tree was only a sapling, and when the big men finished, dirt was everywhere on the floor, and our teacher said the principal said the state said we had to push the dirt into a pile around the trunk in the shape of a female breast. This was to dissuade the boys from giggling at future mentions of female anatomy. Then our teacher projected onto the wall an image of a naked female, and the boys giggled. The breast pile of dirt was good, and our teacher gave us all outstanding marks because the principal told her to give us all outstanding marks because the state . . . .
Two weeks later the tree died. Our teacher said we watered it too often, and the principal came and said the breast-shaped pile of dirt was too flat for the tree to blossom, but our teacher said it was the perfect shaped breast-shaped pile of dirt, and she projected the image of the naked female on the wall—the boys didn’t giggle this time—and the principal nodded that the female’s breasts were equal to the dirt. But the following day the principal told our teacher that the state told him that we couldn’t show naked females on the wall anymore. We giggled, and chopped down the tree, except we didn’t chop it down because the tools were too dangerous, and three of the four big men returned to cut the tree to a stump. The fourth man was honest, and we didn’t want him to tell the state that the tree-growing had failed. Our homework was to find a replacement tree before exams.
Nobody found a replacement tree, but from the breast sprouted a sapling, which we called the nipple. The sapling was white and not an olive tree, but we were all happy anyway since we would keep our outstanding marks, and that meant passing to the next level, which was to raise guinea pigs. The classroom two floors up had already raised two guinea pigs to full size and placed them into a container to produce offspring. This was after five failed guinea pigs, all of which didn’t want to continue living under such conditions and jumped out the window and plopped onto the steamy blacktop parking lot. Once the two successful guinea pigs had offspring, the state would grant us enough money to build better lights for our football field.