Monday, August 27, 2012

Generation Gap

Mr. Hamm began his first day of class with the best of intentions.  "Good morning, let's see, ten of you are here, but eleven are enrolled this semester.  Does anyone know a Claude—"

"Yes, Mr. Hamm!  We’re friends, hang on just a sec and I’ll bet I can find out where he is. . . ."  The helpful young man grabbed his phone and stared at it in silence.

"Um, Ross, is it?"

"Yes sir."

"You said Claude is a friend?"

"Yes sir."

"And you know why he’s not here?"

"I’m checking on that, Mr. Hamm, I’m sure I can find out."

"'Checking?'  I’m confused.  Did he or did he not tell you where he’d be today instead of where he should be, here in class?"

"'Tell me,' sir?  Oh!  No, sorry, we’re not friends like hang-out-on-the-weekends friends.  We’re just facebook friends . . . ah, here’s his profile, right, I thought I saw that post last night.  He’s still in Prague, returning next week."

Mr. Hamm shook his head, unamused.  "Well, alright then, let’s begin.  As you all know, this class focuses on improvisation.  Let’s begin today by discussing a famous group of improv actors, and then we can discuss any experience any of you have to date.  Has anyone followed Christopher Guest's career?"

The question hardly left Mr. Hamm’s mouth before all ten students had their phones in hand, eyes peeled to small screens.

"Excuse me, but what are you all doing?" the teacher asked.

"Mr. Hamm?"

"Yes, Ross?"

"Christopher Guest is the guy who did Best in Show and Spinal Tap and those other mockumentaries, right?"

Great, we're connecting, Mr. Hamm thought.  "Yes, Ross, that’s right—"

"Well I searched and it doesn’t look like he has a twitter account.  There are quite a few Christopher Guests on twitter, but none of them seem to be the famous one—"

"What?"  Just when he thought he’d gotten through to them, Mr. Hamm was perplexed.  "What are you talking about?"

"You asked whether any of us followed Christopher Guest, but I don’t think that’s possible.  We can’t follow someone who doesn’t even use twitter!"

A muddled laugh ensued and Mr. Hamm spoke over it.  "Alright!  Forget it, we’ll discuss his work later today if we have time.  Let’s just start with all of you and your experiences.  Has anyone ever performed an improv act, and for whom?  Yes, um, Gill, is it?"

"Yes, Mr. Hamm!  I practiced some improv over the summer to get ready for this class."

Mr. Hamm beamed.  "And how did it go?"

"It went alright, I guess, I did a short act for my grandmother."

"And what were some of her comments?"

"Oh, well," Gill frowned, "I did it for her in person, Mr. Hamm."

The teacher made an effort to locate his patience.  "Of course you did, Gill, and what were some of her comments?"

Gill, growing nervous, looked around the room for support.  "Like I said, Mr. Hamm, she was right there in the room.  Just a few feet away, really I promise. . . ."

Mr. Hamm took a deep breath.  "Okay, Gill, I understand, she was right there.  And now please, I’ll ask one more time, what were her comments?"

The students all shook their heads, feeling sorry for Gill, who eventually said, "Mr. Hamm, I didn’t put it on youtube or facebook or anything like that, I just did it for her at her house.  She made a pot of tea and—"

"Aha!"  Mr. Hamm, half-crazed, laughed out loud just as Ross typed a three letter text message to Gill: LOL.

18 comments:

  1. This is a funny, but sad, commentary on future generations.

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    1. Thanks, Karen. I was only going for funny, but I see why you (and others) also found this kinda sad.

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  2. Ahahaha, this is hilarious Richard, but, as Karen said, also said in the truth of it...so sad. Great story!

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    1. Hi, Deanna. Thanks! Glad it gave you a laugh.

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  3. A really interesting story, very original

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  4. Was Hamm a reference to samuel Beckett by any chance? Me, I'd just ban mobile phones in class and demand they learmed proper word usage. But I'm strict like that :-0

    marc nash

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    1. Actually the first 2 names I made up for this story were Ross and Gill. With that in mind, you'll probably figure out how I came to use Hamm and Claude for the other 2 names. Please note, of course, that I was not in any way, shape, or form attempting to compare this silly flash (or any of my work) to the classic from which I derived these names, I was just having some fun.

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  5. Bless the teacher.

    I think there's some truth here. I've been googled in a workshop before, where the group were having a debate and somebody decided to look it up to see if they agreed with me.

    Ultimately though the Mr Hamm's will be replaced with Ms Tweet's or Mr Instagram's and all will be well.

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    1. Ha ha, I hope that day never comes, Peter.

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  6. Very funny but scary at the same time. I'm not even that old, and I feel like such a dinosaur in comparison to some of the younger people I know in my college community.

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    1. Welcome, Carrie-Anne! Thanks for reading and thanks for your comment, I know what you mean.

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  7. This was indeed funny! I can imagine Mr. Hamm's frustration, as I struggle with the meaning of text messages sometimes too.

    Conversation is a dying art, what is it they said, video killed the radio star - texting killed the art of conversation ^_^

    Excellent story!

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    1. Thanks, Helen! May conversation never die.

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  8. What a true statement on what I bet classrooms are like these days. Witty, fun piece. Nice job!

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    1. Welcome, Aaron! Thanks for your kind words, and thanks for reading.

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  9. Comical this, I feel just the way Mr Hamm feels, left behind, and a little confused as to the goings-on. :)

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    1. Thanks, Steve. I can relate to how you (and Mr. Hamm) feel.

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