Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Book Covers

When I was in high school I was an avid reader of Mad magazine. One month Mad included tear-out book covers with seemingly sensational titles to cover otherwise boring books.

One of the fake covers had "Sex and Love" in large text and in tiny text at the bottom it read, "and 10,000 other words are included in this abridged dictionary." Another book cover had "Lolita" in huge text with a picture of an attractive young girl below it. At the bottom in tiny text it read, "is not the title of this boring book."

I applied "Sex and Love" to a copy of "King Lear" and "Lolita" to a copy of "A Tale of Two Cities". The next day I took both books to school with diabolical intentions in mind.

When I went to my study hall class, I  sat down in front. The teacher, Mrs. Eckland, was also the Home Economics teacher and a well-known guardian of student morals. I gave her a few minutes to get settled and then I picked up "Sex and Love". She looked over at me, stormed over to my desk, and grabbed the book.

She barely had time to get settled in her chair again when I popped up "Lolita". She came unglued! She marched over to my desk and grabbed "Lolita" out of my hands. She went back to her desk, picked up "Sex and Love",  and took the books and me to the principal's office.

Here she launched into a shrill rant about what a horrible degenerate I was reading such filth right there in the classroom. When she finally calmed down a bit, I picked up "Sex and Love",  turned to the title page, and pointed out that the book was actually "King Lear".  I then showed that "Lolita" was actually "A Tale of Two Cities".

I said, "I realize that King Lear is a bit controversial in some circles and A Tale of Two Cities is just plain depressing, but I don't think reading either of them merits this level of opprobrium. As a matter of fact, in English class last year, both of these books were required reading."

I turned to Mrs. Eckland and said, "I think there's a lesson we can all learn from this. Perhaps it's true that we shouldn't judge a book by its cover."

The principal, Mr. Frerichs, said, "Mrs. Eckland, why don't you go back to your class and I'll take care of this." When she was safely out of earshot, he shut the door and burst out laughing! He said, "Dave, as principal I should be telling you that you shouldn't do things like that. It's disruptive to the class etc, etc, but I have to admit it was pretty damn funny!"

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