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The Road Trip Dialogues (excerpt)

Rev glanced over, grinned again, then resumed her update. A lot had happened in the 20 years since they’d graduated from teachers’ college.

“I did get a teaching job. It was just part-time, though. But that was exactly what I wanted. Because, as you recall, I was working on my first novel. I was going to be a writer,” she said with mock enthusiasm. Mocking enthusiasm. “Yes I was.”

“What happened?” Dylan asked.

“Well you know what it was like back then. We were lucky if we got any kind of teaching job. Unless we wanted to teach English overseas. End of my first year, I was declared redundant.”

“There were two of you?” He giggled, then said, “I meant what happened to the ‘going to be a writer’ part.”

“Oh, I am a writer.”

He waited.

“I write the questions that go on the LSAT.”

“You became a lawyer?”

“No, I don’t know anything about the law. Well, I do, but —”

“Ah-hah! I thought so!” He seemed so—pleased. “Misdemeanour?”

“Yeah — how did…” She glanced in the rear-view mirror before making a lane change to pass another stupid mini-van thing.

“The principal,” she sighed as she started the explanation. “I’d become a sub and after a few months of a day here and there, I got a long-term placement at one school — the principal caught me teaching my grade 10 boys how to put on a condom.”

“All of them at once?”

“Yes— no!” She reached over and cuffed him one. “It was a late and lazy Friday afternoon, and some of them were hubba-hubba-ing about their hot dates for the weekend, and I said something like, ‘You guys do know how to use a condom, right? ‘Cuz if you put it on wrong, it’ll bust, and you’ll end up a daddy.’”

“Bet that got their attention.”

“It did indeed.”

“So the principal laid charges?”

“I was ‘corrupting minors.’”

“Socrates would be proud. Still, it seems a bit over-reacting.”

“Well —”

“It wasn’t the first time.” He waited.

“I refused to stand for the anthem,” she said. “Every goddamned morning they wanted us to proclaim our allegiance. You’d think we were in the Soviet Union. Or the States. ‘Nationalism is…”

“an infantile disease,’” he finished the quote. “And the next time?”

“Well, the long-term placement got turned into a short-term placement…”

“Isn’t it usually the other way around?”

“Smart ass. At the next school,” she continued then, “I started a discussion club. I chose abortion as the opening topic.”

“Well, you can’t do that at St. Mary’s of the Eternally Blessed Virgin Who Never Goes To First Base Not Even If She Really Really Wants To. Especially If She Really Really Wants To…” he stopped then.

She looked over at him with inquiring eyebrows, but he didn’t elaborate. Didn’t really need to.

“It was a public school,” she said. “A regular public high school. Next time, it was something else. I can’t remember.”

“Yes, you can.”

“Yes, I can. The next time — oh, it doesn’t matter. The next time, when I…” She paused to find the right word, “left, I offered to sponsor an annual Award for Independent Thought. To be given each year to a graduating student chosen by the teaching staff. Each May, I’d send a book prize for the award. They’d give it out at the graduation ceremony in June.”

“And?”

“The Awards Committee refused my offer. They said it would be too complicated to administer.”

“Ah, well, they’re administrators. The May-June thing probably stumped them.”

— Jass Richards

Jass Richards has a master’s degree in philosophy and for a (very) brief time was a stand-up comic (now she’s more of a sprawled-on-the-couch comic). Despite these attributes, she has received four Ontario Arts Council grants. In addition to her Rev and Dylan series (The Road Trip Dialogues, The Blasphemy Tour and License to Do That), which has reportedly made people snort root beer out their noses, she has written This Will Not Look Good on My Resume, a collection of short stories described as “a bit of quirky fun that slaps you upside the head.” “At the Beach” is excerpted from its sequel Dogs Just Wanna Have Fun.  All of her books, including her most recent, TurboJetslams: Proof #29 of the Non-Existence of Godcan be purchased (in print and various e-formats) at all the usual online places.

Reflections of Erma