You will no longer be teaching at Good Vibrations Montessori School, Mr. Rosen.
Because of what happened in class this morning, right?
Because of what the children say you called “the aquarium lesson,” the principal said.
The moral of the story works for zoos, too, Mr. Rosen said.
Johnny is still recovering and waiting for his mother in the nurse’s office.
The other kids didn’t disagree with me.
We notified their parents to pick them up, the principal said.
I’m surprised you haven’t called in grief counselors.
That attitude is exactly what we’re talking about here.
So in my absence will you be chaperoning the class on the field trip to the aquarium?
The aquarium trip is off, thanks to you.
Mission accomplished, Mr. Rosen said.
The children are still highly agitated.
About saving the whales, right?
No whales live in the local aquarium.
If things keep going the way they’re going, there won’t be any whales in the ocean either.
The children said you told them not to even eat tuna fish sandwiches.
Nor those Goldfish crackers either.
There’s such a thing as getting carried away, Mr. Rosen.
Free the fish.
Your liberal radical overzealous environmental activism is how this anarchy started.
No, Johnny’s rich corporate lawyer father started the movement when he gave the school free tickets to the aquarium in which he’s part owner.
That does not give you the right to traumatize the children.
You call it trauma. I call it teaching. I only told them the truth.
You told Johnny he could fully experience for himself what aquarium fish experience if he got in the backyard pool at his house and you welded a glass lid over the top. You said the rest of the class could stand at the edge watching him swim around underwater like a captive carp for the rest of his life.
A teaching moment if I ever saw one.
You were out of line, Mr. Rosen.
I was going to suggest we submerge Johnny in the hot tub but if we welded him in there he’d boil like a lobster at one of those political clambakes brought to you by the corrupt politicians his old man bribes.
And it’s not just aquariums, Mr. Rosen said.
Now he stood and blocked the door.
It’s zoos, too. You realize some zoos purposely thin the herd because of budget constraints and Republican cutbacks. You know how they do that? They let the animals eat each other until the polar bears are all that’s left walking around picking their teeth with chimpanzee bones.
You’re making that up, Mr. Rosen.
I am not. I read it in The New York Times.
There is something seriously wrong with you, the principal said.
I told the kids all about the zoo cannibalism, too. You should be pleased to know I stopped them before they started chewing on Johnny’s arms and legs. They wanted to, they even moved on him, because he just refused to understand the animals’ side of the story.
So that’s how he got bite marks on his buttocks?
The kids pulled Jessica off him before she broke the skin.
Mr. Rosen saw raw panic cover the principal’s face.
I know what you’re thinking, he said.
Please, Mr. Rosen, you’re out of control, the principal said.
Mr. Rosen grinned.
Mr. Rosen showed his teeth.
Don’t worry, I’m a vegetarian, he said.