The path of least resistance

We had a kid in my high school English class, and he always had his hand up. And I mean always. Whatever the book, whatever the topic, whatever the tangent, Larry - that was his name - had to get his oar in.

So every time Mr. Raymond - that was the teacher's name - saw Larry with his hand up yet again, he'd look around for someone else. Anyone else. Anyone besides Larry who might have something remotely useful to contribute.

And there we would sit, like potatoes. Potatoes, in fact, would have been a far more pleasant alternative. In retrospect, I can only imagine Mr. Raymond's despair, looking at our sullen faces and dead eyes. We didn't read the book, let alone understand the subtext. We didn't even care enough to give Mr. Raymond a mercy answer to whatever the hell the question was. We either didn't know, or didn't care. Frequently both.

And there was poor Larry, with his hand up. He knew he had something useful to add. He had the answer. He had an original insight. He wanted to be heard. But he was being ignored. For the sake of a pack of dullards who were just marking time until community college. Larry would raise his hand even harder. He wasn't going to be silenced.

And there was Mr. Raymond, who was sick of Larry monopolizing the conversation every damned day. He had a mission as an educator. It was his job to somehow engage these kids. There had to be some way. There had to be something they were interested in. But how to reach them, with Larry forever butting in? Truth be told, Mr. Raymond was as sick of Larry as the rest of the class. But how could they just sit there, and do nothing, day after day?

So the room would eventually fall to an overwhelming ennui fueled by mutual resentment. We all failed each other, and we all silently blamed each other. Just when the room reached a crescendo of awkwardness, embarrassment, frustration and hopelessness, Mr Raymond would finally give up. Giving the rest of us one final glower of disappointment and disgust, he would slump his shoulders, sigh, turn to Larry, and give MLS Cup to the Home Depot Center.