They don’t teach children how to deal with bomb scares anymore. No one tells them how to hide underground, under desks, or in doorways these days when they’re dropped. We don’t drill them how to move or stay calm when that shrill sound like air raid sirens spills from her mouth. No, these days they don’t have to learn what to do when that tommy gun hidden in your leftest chest lays down a spray of bullets from its chain that makes your hand tremble like an alcoholic, or how to best recover when your upper lip warbles and turns concave, leaving you to stutter-spit your words. Just like no one builds shelters with six-feet thick cement filled with fine, silky sheets, dessert wines, fancy flowers, or another hundred pick-up lines, unrivaled and original, with a back-up generator fueled by scented candles, Marvin Gaye on vinyl or the Postal Service mp3s. If only we had spent those awful gym class hours learning how to keep our hands from sweating, feeling clammy when they’re clasped in one another, or if health class taught us not to taste her tonsils with our tongues but rather nibble on that soft and tender spot behind her ear, maybe then we would survive when the motionless air of an impending Armageddon implodes all around us, pelting us with a flurry or a hail of sensation that undermines—overwrites?—every social scripture that they’d taught us up ’til then. Unfortunately, it has proven quite difficult to evaluate a student’s mastery of mix tapes on standardized tests, or to establish an objective criteria by which to judge that attentive child who eliminates the gaps between the songs and leaves no awkward silence but those select few fleeting moments when the pause is deemed appropriate.
Sure, they can teach you how to take a test, but never what to say, nor the ways to respond, when she finally drops the bomb.