This piece about visiting first-graders at Career Day, and then lying to them, is pretty humorous, in that awkward way that things you shouldn’t do around children sometimes turn out to be.
“Children,” I announced, my voice booming in the small confines of the classroom, “my name is Trevor Thompson and I am an astronaut.”
Don’t ask me why I said it; I wouldn’t be able to tell you. But it went over like a bag of free candy. The class erupted in cheers and hollers and several kids pumped their fists in the air. One of the boys jumped up from his chair and hopped up and down like he had to pee.
“Please,” I said, motioning them to be quiet. “I’m only joking. I actually sell advertising for RollingStone.com”
There was silence. For a moment, their smiles remained on their faces, leftovers from a happier time when they thought they were in the presence of an astronaut. Then they began to fall, one by one, like a row of dominoes….
“Perhaps you have a few questions for Mr. Thompson,” [the teacher] suggested to the kids. Dozens of hands shot into the air…. A little girl in the back of the room was waving her arm excitedly.
“How much money do you make?” she asked.
“Julie!” the teacher snapped. “I thought we talked about the kind of questions we ask our visitors.”
I laughed, not minding the question at all, and said, “Let’s just say I make more than a fireman or a policeman does.”
The teacher glared at me, so I hastily amended my statement. “Let’s just say I make enough to live.”
A girl with red bows in her hair asked, “Do you mean if you didn’t work, you’d die?”
“Well, not exactly.”
“But that’s what you just said,” insisted the girl with bows. A few of her classmates nodded.
“Well, I didn’t mean it literally. What are you trying to do, trick me?”
The girl grinned at me, pleased with herself. I was pleased, too. As long as they were laughing, it meant they weren’t bored…. Now that the first questions had been asked, other questions followed rapidly.
“Do you work for Eminem?”
“How old are your kids?”
“What’s your favorite part about your job?”…
“Why do you work?”
“Why do I work?” I repeated. “Why? So I can buy things. So I can pay rent, buy food, buy shoes and socks and underwear.”
At the mention of underwear, all the children made gagging faces and said, “oooooooh grooosssss.”