Last night Milo and I were watching old episodes of SNL on some app on his phone. There was this one skit with Seth Meyers in which he played “Mr. J.”, the Coolest Teacher in School. He was a laid-back sorta guy whom all the students loved, until “Phil” walked into the room…“accidentally”. Luke Wilson portrayed Phil, who at first appeared to be a student, as his quality of laid-backness was much more apparent than Mr. J.’s…but instead, he was the new history teacher, who had wandered into the wrong room “by mistake”. It seemed his actual intention was to win over all the students and become the new Coolest Teacher in School (who didn’t believe in last names). However, the school principal wandered in, removed Phil’s long wig, and revealed that he was, in actuality, the most hated teacher in school in disguise, trying to draw loyalty away from Mr. J., whom he despised for being what he himself could never be. In the end, the students realized once again how much they loved Mr. J., and Mr. J. decided not to resign (because he could no longer teach without his status as “Coolest Teacher in School”) and agreed to go with some girl to get her abortion next week. Something like that.
I kept thinking about how Pierce was the coolest teacher at our school…I guess this is why he seeped into my subconscious last night. I dreamed that he talked Cortney and me (I guess we were still in high school) into transferring to that really nice school, with the beautiful auditorium, where he lives (about 40 minutes from here). So we arrived, dressed in our Hogwarts uniforms, at this school which turned out to be a boarding school. There was a wall around the school with this huge iron gate at the entrance…it kinda seemed like a prison, I suppose…but Cort and I just thought it was pretty.
So we start attending classes. There was this assembly on the first day of school, and everybody sat at rigid attention in the auditorium, while the headmaster/principal/whatever gave an introductory speech. Everybody seemed to pay him the utmost attention and respect. Everyone was so well-behaved! I also noticed that everybody, dressed in their school uniforms (which did not match our Hogwarts ones at all) looked really preppy and snobby…anyway.
There was a fountain. A big, pretty fountain, in the main courtyard right inside the gate. It has absolutely nothing to do with the story, but I remember it in the dream, so I thought I’d point it out.
Cort and I arrived at our first class, where we were seated at these long, rectangular tables, like students would sit at in elementary school. The teacher, standing at the front of the room, asked us with this big cheery grin to please open our textbooks to page 2 and complete exercises A through E. The textbooks were really thin, hardback, and reminded me a lot of those spelling books we had in like, 1st through 6th grades. We noticed immediately that all of the students opened their books at the exact same time in the exact same way. We were a couple of seconds behind, and the teacher came up behind us and said sweetly, “Don’t you two want to do the assignment?” and Cort said, “Yeah, we are” and I said, “We were just taking in the scenery” and we both grinned at her. She smiled still more sweetly and walked back to her big wooden desk. Cort and I looked at each other like, “Whoa…that was weird” and got to work.
After a couple of hours in one class (it seemed the school days were a lot longer than normal) we would have these 5-minute breaks, and we noticed again, on break, that all the students closed their books at the exact same time in the exact same way. We kept exchanging glances like, “What is this!?” We sort of listened to the students’ conversations…they all did seem pretty snobby, though…I wish I could remember the sorts of things they talked about, but I don’t.
Later, we change classes, and now we are in Mr. J.’s class. How great is that!? He was so much more personable, normal, and less creepy than that other woman. And while there was still that feeling of sameness among all the students, it was more relaxing in Mr. J.’s class. He was more human. And then we realized that everybody else in this school seemed horribly robotic. That was the word! Robotic. We hadn’t known how to describe it before that point.
The next thing I remember happening is Cort and me deciding to crawl through air shafts in the school and try to listen in on conversations among the faculty. We did so, but…we didn’t really hear anything.
So we decided to appeal to Mr. J., because obviously. What better course of action could there be? He was the most human of anyone else in the entire school. If he didn’t know what was going on, we assumed, no one would. We arrived in his classroom off-schedule one day, at a time when we knew he didn’t have any students, and under the guise of needing extra help with an assignment. Since we were transfers, we were just a little behind all the other students and needed to work that much harder to catch up—or so we claimed. We asked Mr. J. if he had noticed anything particularly strange about the rest of the school.
At first, Mr. J. listened, dead serious. Then he laughed, like we didn’t know what we were talking about, and said, “You don’t know what you’re talking about.” This was very distressing. It was even more distressing a moment later when he grew solemn again and said (with a completely straight face), “You know I can turn you in to the headmaster for asking questions. You know you’re not supposed to do it. But because I am the Coolest Teacher in School, I’ll let you off with a warning this time. Don’t do it again. Now unless you had any real questions about schoolwork…enjoy your lunch break. You can eat in here if you want. I’ve got soft drinks.”
But Cortney insisted that we go somewhere where we could talk. We went back to our room, where no other students were at that time, because everybody else was down eating lunch. We discussed the fact that the school was really creeping both of us out, but that if we tried to escape from it, some of the faculty could probably become pretty dangerous…it just seemed that way, we thought, based on dozens of movies we’d seen. So we decided not to do anything yet, and just bide our time.
A couple of weeks later, Mr. J. asked us both to see him during lunch. Having no idea what this could possibly be about (we were both doing very well with all of our work, as all the work that ever seemed to be done in that school was elementary-type stuff), we showed up, clueless.
Mr. J. shut the door and said, completely serious once again (which was strange, as he was rarely serious), “Okay…I pretended to think you two were crazy…but I have reason to believe your minds are in grave danger at this school. All of ours are. Of course I’d noticed all the things you’d mentioned to me before that day, but I didn’t know what to do about them. I’d thought maybe I was losing my mind. But the fact that both of you have noticed it too led me to delve a bit deeper into it. I’ve been eavesdropping on some of the other teachers’ conversations, and I’ve involved myself in certain other espionage that could get me fired and probably much, much worse….” After a dramatic pause, he went on to explain that there was a conspiracy among the teachers to turn all of the students into robots (not literally); they were trying to brainwash us all into becoming these perfect, ideal students (who did work that elementary-school kids could do) for the simple motive of becoming the highest-rated school in the country.
So we decided to start making plans to run away. Cort and I would spend each lunch in his room (“which wouldn’t be at all noticeable,” he pointed out, “because I am the Coolest Teacher in School”…a character flaw that had carried over from the SNL skit). Cort and I left his classroom that day, headed back to our room, and as we walked the corriders, Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” started playing from somewhere. This was strange—I hadn’t heard the song the day before. It just sort of crept in there. And it was perfect. It made so much sense. Another strange thing about it, though, was that it seemed to be playing, not in the actual scene, but more like overlapping, like the soundtrack in an actual movie. I don’t think we could hear it. Only I heard it, as though I was watching a movie.
And then I woke up (with the song in my head). I don’t know if we ever got away or not. So ends my Disturbing–Behavior–SNL-real-life-whatever-else-I’m-forgetting-esque dream.
Pretty anticlimactic, eh?