A Story With a Moral, Which I Will Elucidate Directly

First off, am I even using the word "elucidate" correctly? Let me check.

Okay, I'm good.


So I'm about nine or ten. The teacher says it's time we learned to write a research paper. To help us in this endeavor, she hands out worksheets (teachers always handed out worksheets) that listed word-count requirements, proper bibliography format, and so forth.

Not wanting to really read all these rules and regulations, I just, you know, skim it for the (by far) most important thing: What can I write this paper about?

Let's see... list, list list. Here we go: Libraries, Museums, Interviews, Microfiche (Microfiche?), Public Records.

What a boring list. I guess "Libraries" is the most interesting-sounding of those, by a narrow margin. I guess.

The next class comes, and we're all turned loose to start researching our research papers. The teacher declares we can all start at the library, which makes sense, and plays pretty well into my chosen topic. I'm feeling pretty clever in my choice.

But man, it's so lame. Libraries: I mean, who cares? And if you did care, and wanted to really know all about 'em, you could just go down to -- duh -- a library and find out all you want, right?

I spend the class session drawing racecars in the layers of dust on the bookshelves.

The next class session comes, and some of my classmates are really getting into the project. I'm a little jealous -- several of them seem totally interested in what they're researching, and I'm becoming increasingly certain that my paper will pale in comparison. How can they be so fascinated by microfiche? What a bunch of nerds.


One day, a couple of classes later, I check with my friend Josh to see what he's up to. Maybe he wants to help draw racecars in the shelfdust. "No, that's okay," he says. "I need to look up some more pictures for my research paper."

"Really?" I say, and ask him what picture-worthy topic he's writing about.

"Pirates" he tells me, and I get a funny feeling in my stomach.


When we have our first check-in with the teacher, she's more than a little disappointed in my progress. I explain that it's been difficult, you know, digging up information on libraries themselves, which seem to have reams of data on every topic except mine. At least the library we've been going to. And I'm really not interested in it, anyway.

"Well, I couldn't imagine why you chose that topic in the first place," Mrs. Borgman says to me, and the funny stomach feeling returns. "You could have researched anything, and I thought it was very strange you decided on libraries."

"But," I whine. "The list... the list said..."

She continues. "Yes, I remember thinking it was very weird when you told me that initially. You know, your friend Josh is writing about pirates."

"Arrrrr..." I moan softly, and head back to my desk.


THE MORAL: You usually have more options than you think you do.


coloredsock said...

your story cracks me up. and the options-thing is a super reminder. i also gotta remember to get up off my butt and move around so i can "see" those options. and so, did you end up picking a cool topic?

Colin said...

I wish I could remember! I think it was too late by then, and I ended up finishing the project on (sigh) Libraries and probably rambling on about Phonecians or something.

But it wasn't too late to learn the lesson, which also happens to be a favorite saying of Penelope's.