For some reason or another I found myself in class today explaining what a minotaur was, and I suddenly wondered what I would do if the door opened and a live, breathing, in-the-flesh version of that mythical beast came on in and sat on down. Would I welcome it? Would I ask it to wipe its hooves? Would I tell it to put on a shirt? Would I make it aware of the fact that, technically, logically, historically it did not, in fact, exist? I'm not saying such a thing was likely to happen, no, but I had to wonder: Would I do the right thing, should the impossible become reality?
I have thoughts like these all the time. It's what makes me glad that I'm not a lawyer, or a banker, or a statistician. I don't think strange and abstract thoughts like these are allowed in jobs like those. (They might be, I don't know, but I wouldn't think so.) I stand in front of the kids and teach my lessons and wonder what would happen if George W. Bush, like Kafka's tormented hero, were suddenly to transform, not into a giant insect, but instead into a rather large rabbit. Still English-speaking, of course; still understandable, despite the new buck teeth. Would we take him seriously, now that he was a rabbit? How would other world leaders shake his hand? Would they be obligated to bring carrots into his chambers? I'm just asking.
In school I used to imagine the door to my Italian Geography teacher's classroom being slammed open by hoods in dark cloaks clutching machine guns, muttering: "Gino -- you're late with the payments." Or there would be a knock on my Math room door, and a little blonde-haired boy, crying, weeping, in fact, would stand there and explain, in halting, gulping breaths, that he was lost, and I, safe and snug in my seat, would sit up slowly, gradually, realizing: That's me -- the past version of myself has become unstuck in time, and come face to face with the classroom containing his elder, teenage version. Or a donut, a big one, a mammoth motherfucker, would come barreling into the classroom, a chocolate glazed, possibly even a honey roasted. It would flat-out flatten two or three students, leaving them with white, sticky powder in lieu of blood. We would talk about it for three, four months after, daily: the day that the donut, the big fucker, the one that, like, almost levitated, entered our classroom. Good times.
Right now I'm wondering what I would do if the ground beneath my feet opened up and dropped me down into the sewers of Baguio. Is there some kind of kind and benevolent clan living beneath the streets? Would they help me find my way back up to the surface? Or would they be jealous of my ability to ascend, the ease with which I could escape their dark and drafty and dungeon? They might want to keep me all for themselves, possibly even dining on my flesh and bones for dinner later in the day, when the sun goes down and the rats come out.
Doesn't everyone think thoughts like these?
I don't know. Sometimes I think they do; sometimes I think it's just me.
Regardless, I'll keep thinking them. They emerge from somewhere within, and I nod and smile and grimace and growl at their appearance, but at least I let them come.
After all, I wouldn't want to live in a world where there wasn't at least the possibility that my Grade 10 Geography teacher could, at any moment, be gunned down by the mafia, in cold blood, outside his own classroom door.