Tuesday, September 26, 2006

That's nothing! This teacher friend of mine once woke up in a bathtub full of ice...

One of my students dropped an envelope on my desk, with my name in big block, non-descript letters, and then, without saying a word, bounded off like a frightened antelope. You're thinking what I was thinking, aren't you?

"Don't open it!"

"I've seen movies that start like this!"

"Big block letters? Skittish kid? Bad news, man! Take it to the counselor, stat! Let her deal with it."

But, against my better judgment, I slid my finger under the flap, removed, unfolded, and read.
Dear Sir:

You are cordially invited to attend dinner at the house of the Sigismund family on the twenty-sixth day of September in the year of our Lord, two thousand and six.

It is a tradition of the Sigismund clan to invite young master Vladimir's teachers over for dinner at the beginning of the academic term and it is our desire to not see this tradition broken. It serves as a fine opportunity for both parties to become acquainted with one another. Please RSVP at your earliest convenience as the Sigismund family looks forward to meeting with you."

Uh, what?

Did I fall asleep, do a reverse Rip Van Winkle off the crazy platform, and wake up in the 19th century? I half expected a "P.S. Jonathan Harker sends his regards. He is fine. You needn't worry about him."

Everything about this letter screams, "Don't even consider going over there! Remember Mr. Bacon from last year? Everyone said he just couldn't take the abuse and walked off the job. But, I bet that wasn't it at all. He probably accepted the invitation from the Sigismunds and nobody ever heard from him again! And what about Ms. Richards the year before that? And Coach Barber? Teacher burnout? Ha! The Sigismunds probably have some dungeon where they keep the teachers who show up for this 'dinner' and do God knows what to them. There's probably a full teacher sweatshop writing research papers, working on science fair projects, and solving for X over and over again!"

The only thing normal about the whole thing is that Vlad waited to the last second to give it to me. What kid doesn't do that?

So, my better judgment and my stomach have been duking it out over whether or not to attend. And, naturally, Hobo Teacher's stomach won out.

I called today and a woman with a voice like gravel and an indistinct accent took my "reservation." Her sinister cackle at the end of the conversation, before the line went dead, certainly didn't put me at ease. But, I'm not too worried. A free meal is a free meal. I'll let you know how it turns out. However, if we don't speak again after this, don't let me disappear in vain. Contact the authorities. Tell my story. Warn the teachers!

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