How Hobbits Relate to Alternative Transportation
Can you think of two words that strike more fear into the hearts of children?
First, you have to sit still, indoors, reading 150 pages of something your teacher thinks will make you a better citizen. Then, you have to regurgitate a summary of the text to prove to your teacher that you did in fact forego fun for reading. Then—if your teacher is good—you have to actually think about the text. Finally, you have to put those thoughts on the page in a legible fashion. Ugh.
I’ve always liked book reports though.
This is mostly due to the fact that I’ve always liked to read. When I was 10, I usually had three Baby-Sitters’ Club books going at once, with Where the Red Fern Grows and a Sweet Valley Twins installment on the side in case Ann M. Martin started to bore (which, amazingly to me now, she never did).
I also have an amusing memory of one particular book report.
When I was in fifth grade, my classmates and I were assigned to do oral dress-up book reports. That meant that you had to dress like one of the characters from your book, then stand up in front of the class, in costume, and give your book report as a presentation to the class. I did mine on an unmemorable novel that allowed me to dress like a punk rocker.
It wasn’t me that gave the memorable report, but my classmate, Eric.
Eric read J.R. Tolkien’s classic and dressed up like the hobbit. He pasted on a fake beard, stuffed a pillow in his shirt to make himself chubby, and even affixed patches of fake fur to his sneakers, as hobbits, of course, have hairy feet.
The trouble with the dress-up Hobbit book report was that it was September and we were having a late-summer heat spell.
A few minutes into Eric’s report, all that padding and faux fur got to him. He stopped speaking abruptly, and his eyes rolled back into his head. Under the heat of his costume and the un-air conditioned classroom, Eric fainted, stumbled backward, and hit his head on the blackboard. Our teacher jumped out of his seat and yelled Eric’s name. The rest of us, seeing an adult look frightened, got frightened ourselves.
Fortunately, Eric-the-hobbit wasn’t out for long.
He came to shortly after Mr. Flagg caught him and set him down in a desk. He didn’t finish his report, but he was OK. Because Eric wasn’t hurt, we were able to put our fear behind us and mostly remember how amusing it is to see an 11-year-old hobbit faint while giving a book report.
Of course, all of this Hobbit talk is leading me to a very important car-free announcement.
This afternoon, I plucked from the shelf of my local library Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists are Changing American Cities by Jeff Mapes, and I plan on reporting on it to you all in upcoming posts. I don’t think I’ll be giving any dress-up presentations, but I’ll keep the room well-ventilated in any case.
Hooray for book reports, car-free and otherwise!