I had to stay after school today. No, I wasn't caught being bad. I had my regular weekly parking lot duty. Then a monthly faculty meeting. Then an additional, tacked-on meeting for test-givers for the upcoming EOC season. If you're a high school teacher in Missouri, you'll know what I'm talking about.
So...you can imagine the excitement that permeated the library after the non-EOC-giving teachers were released. It was downright palpable, I tell you. And pulsating. I'm surprised the books didn't unshelve themselves like those of the New York Public Library in the opening scene of Ghostbusters.
It was a grand production. Projector. PowerPoint. Audio message. All standardized for distribution around the state. We had to sign off that we attended and were prepared. Paper materials that were distributed must be turned in at the end of our testing window, to be shredded. No giggling. No note-writing. No texting. No paper-grading. We dutifully watched black words on a white screen while a disembodied voice read to us. NOW I understand how a bedtime story puts kids to sleep.
Near the end, the steady drone of the oddly-sibilant narrator was spontaneously joined by another voice. Not human. The chirping of a cricket was distinctly heard by all. It lasted no more than fifteen seconds. We glanced around at each others' studious, upturned faces, lit only by the reflection of the projector screen.
One of my regular lunch companions was the first to crack. Not merely a grin. A wink. A knowing, Mona Lisa smile. Nope. She did a dry spit take, followed by a hearty, "Bwah, ha, ha!" And, in case nobody noticed, she bellowed, "I heard a CRICKET! Was that on the tape, or was that a REAL cricket?" We commiserated. Sure sounded real. But we didn't want to be the ones to bring it to the attention of our Grand Poobah of Testing.
He did not know, either.
Truth. It's stranger than fiction.