January 26, 2015

Super Cyborg Killing Transformer Shoe

~ Stories By 8-Year-Olds ~

In the spring of 1987, the grubby little fingers in Mrs. Thompson’s 1st grade class were hard at work scribbling out short fiction. Witches flew on broomsticks. Easter Bunnies delivered eggs, or didnt. Ladybugs ate aphids. Life was grand.

However, as ABC Publishing Editor N. Hardwell was quick to point out (in his brutal rejection letter here), all of these short stories were remarkably formulaic. Every story in the anthology I Am the Easter Bunny, for example, started with:
I am the Easter Bunny. My name is _____1. I am _____2.
1. Floppy, Hoppy, Gilbert, Spotty, Fluffy, Swifty, Floppy, Easter, Fluffy, Heather, Easter, Gilbert, Smarty, Fluffy, and Rainbow Egg
2. Various combinations of: white, fat, fast, nice, happy

Given these cookie-cutter shapes, is it any surprise that the vast majority of children filled in the exact same cookies?

Now, dont get me wrong: for Mrs. Thompson to have 1st graders write short fiction is AWESOME, and she was a GREAT teacher; I certainly loved her. Furthermore, some students must have benefitted from this kind of 1-2-3 guidance (heres looking at you, Easter Bunny named ‘Easter). But to be creative in this context, students had to be crafty—they had to include the mandatory sentences, but then branch out onto their own paths.
I live in Bunny Town. Do you like my eggs? I like Easter. Do you like Easter? I do like Easter. It is fun. Some of my eggs break.
I didnt say they were good paths. But, BUT… then there was young Gordon. Little Gordons Easter Bunny (named ‘Rainbow Egg) hops to the planet Jupiter and has difficulty understanding space monster language. His ladybug, who is melted by magic when trying to kill an evil witch, is rescued by a friend from the witchs castle.

Clearly chomping at bit.

If there were any clearer evidence that young authors creativity was being stifled by these formulaic requirements at school, then it is this story, which I wrote less than two years after I Am a Ladybug, presumably NOT for a school assignment:

If there were ever a word you could reasonably expect to follow Super, Cyborg, Killing, and Transformer, that word would not be shoe.

But before you cry “lame,” let's find out more about this shoe.

(Thats “circuits.) Not only is the Super Cyborg Killing Transformer Shoe armed to the teeth, but thanks to solar power, its also environmentally friendly. I dont quite remember what pop-fire guns are, but rest assured they must be bad-ass. Lets read on.

Hahaha! “My shoe was murdering people! And you thought you had bad mornings. Actually, though, wouldnt it be false advertising if the shoe didnt Super Cyborg Kill people? And by the way, why the hell is there only ONE shoe? Answer: you only NEED one.

Cause that's the kind of kid I am. Your Cyborg Shoe is on an out-of-control killing spree? Call the FUCKING ARMY.

Which brings us to another point. A cyborg is cooler than a robot, and way cooler than just a machine—maybe as cool as Terminator on the graph above—because its a combination of man and machine. Biology and technology. Where are the organic components of this Cyborg Shoe? Maybe its solar-powered thanks to some kind of hybrid nanotech-chloroplasts? Or maybe it drinks the blood of whoever wears it and adds that essence to its own? Or it has a FOOT inside it??

And what about Transformer? Well…

Call the Army, get Marines; still OK. But this ‘surprising thing the shoe did? I mean, hell, if your shoe turned inside-out and circuits began to appear, of course thats surprising, but if you own the Super Cyborg Killing Transformer Shoe… its prolly gonna transform into robot form sooner or later, right? Not to mention the Killing part?

This is a clear case of mistaken expectations. Your money will not be refunded, as the product performs exactly as specified.

CORPORAL: Holy shit! That robot just blew those guys heads off with a freakin missile launcher!!
SERGEANT: How many heads?
CORPORAL: I dunno… some.
SERGEANT: Damn. Men down. Some men down. …Is it still doing it? Blowing some heads off, I mean?
CORPORAL: It keeps on doing it!
SERGEANT: It keeps on doing it?? That does it. Now Im pissed off!

Called the Army. Brought the Marines. Now calling the Air Force. Shits gettin real.

—And the little boy and all ninety-seven marines, including some whose heads got blown off, were instantly annihilated in the nuclear blast, along with the entire town. The Air Force escaped.

The moral of this story is: whatever you do, be it calling 3 out of 4 branches of the Armed Forces in a single day, or misplacing your missile and nuclear-armed cyborg killing machine, make sure you beware and appreciate the immense danger of technology that is created to…

…be solar-powered.

Because if something solar-powered is cut off from sunlight, it explodes. This is why solar energy hasnt really caught on in this country. One second, youre solving math problems on your calculator and putting it away in your desk, and the next second its exploding. One moment your sidewalk is lit up all prettily, and the next moment its lit up because its exploding. One day your sunflower is blossoming in the garden, and the next day its blossoming in your face because its exploding.

Bonus moral / moral bonus: you should really consider getting into sun-proof fabrics. Not only can sun-proof curtains assure you get a better and deeper nights rest, and thereby not oversleep and somehow lose track of your murder shoes, but obviously a sun-proof blanket can also be used to explode any and all kinds of solar-powered things that you may want to explode. Of course, the blanket isnt explosion-proof, so technically it can be used only once.

*    *    *

Clearly Mrs. Thompson had no idea what kind of creative insanity she was holding at bay with the simple incantations of “I am a _____. My name is _____. If only the final story anthology of 1st grade had been I Am a Super Cyborg Killing Transformer Shoe.

If youd like to re-read this amazing story in its entirety, here it is:

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