Monday, November 14, 2005

call me Ishmael

153 years ago today Herman Melville published Moby Dick. I don't remember thinking it was a fantastic novel. I know it didn't change my feelings towards seafood. It's not even become one of my favorites that I read often. In fact, I don't remember much beyond the first chapter and the last chapter. But it does remind me of a fond memory-

Roatan, Honduras. Hurricane Mitch clean-up crew during my spring break. I was mixing concrete and teaching English to a sweet set of sixth graders. We mostly talked about pronoun usage, but we also talked about creative writing. I asked all of my students to write me a short story for the next day.

This was back in my first life at MTSU; I wanted to change the world via a middle school english classroom. My first life wasn't nearly as scholarly stressful as my life in nursing school, but that's another story.

Most of the stories were about their families. A few were about the group of volunteers with whom I was working. But one girl had the longest story of all. It was called "The Fish". And her first sentence was, "Call me Ishmael." The other three pages sounded strangely familiar. And two paragraphs had been copied twice.

I called her out in the hall and told her I had read the story before. I asked her if she would write me another one that she didn't copy. She didn't. And she swore that she wrote that story herself. That other man must have copied off of her idea.

Shame on you, Hermie. And you owe you-know-who a boat-load of royalties.

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