Clicking for Godot

A bleak February day. It rains something between snow and drizzle. The walks are trampled in slush, the color of wet feces. Bare trees puncture the gray firmament. Within room 3, the senior class wheezes. They’ve had it rough of late, approaching their deadlines for term papers, extended essays, geography field work, biology lab work, etc., plus two weeks of grueling mock exams. To reward them for their struggle, I assigned some light reading, something that would make them laugh and not dig too deeply into the human psyche. You know, Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot”.

“Sir, this is nonsense,” Marcin said first. He had his Xeroxed copy of the text next to his open laptop.

“Which part?”

“How about this one—” Marcin flipped through his copy before finding a highlighted passage. He cleared his throat and began:

Given the existence as uttered forth in the public works of Puncher and Wattmann of a personal God quaquaquaqua with white beard quaquaquaqua outside time without extension who from the heights of divine apathia divine athambia divine aphasia loves us dearly—”

“You didn’t get that?”

“It’s worse than Shakespeare sir.”

“But you didn’t read it correctly. Here, let me try—” I grabbed his text, cleared my throat and began:

Given the existence as uttered forth in the public works of Puncher and Wattmann of a personal God quaquaquaqua with white beard quaquaquaqua outside time without extension who from the heights of divine apathia divine athambia divine aphasia loves us dearly—”

“Sir,” Ben interrupted, “I don’t get the point at all. They say they’re waiting for Godot and he never comes. They talk about nothing. The play’s about nothing sir.”

“Right.”

“Why even read it? Why do something when it’s nothing? And over and over again, really sir. It’s insanity.”

Ben’s eyes were cast downward, illuminated. He was gently massaging the metallic surface of his MacBook.

“Ben, what are you doing?”

“Oh, nothing. Just a minute. Sorry.”

“Excuse me?”

His attention remained diverted, his arms sprawled across his control station.

“I’m just checking something.”

“Can it wait?”

“No! It can’t wait. It’s important.”

“Important?”

“Yes sir, vital.”

“What are you checking?”

“My stocks sir.”

“Oh, I see.”

Clicking.

“And the other hand?”

“Sir?”

“The one caressing your iPhone?”

“Oh, that’s nothing sir. A quick reply. Won’t take a minute.”

While Ben held my attention, Marcin, to his left, had zoned out.

“Marcin?”

I snapped my fingers in the direction of his tranquil face. He wore a wool cap that poked up off his scalp, so that he resembled the classroom dunce.

“Marcin, what are you doing?”

“Oh nothing sir.”

“Nothing?”

“I’m checking something sir.”

“Something important?”

“Yes sir. Vital. Will only take a minute.”

“What are you checking?”

“Really, it’s nothing.”

“Enlighten me.”

“Well,” he sighed and began: “I was checking Facebook sir, but now I’m on Youtube watching a clip about a nude marathon in Finland that was shared on my timeline, and threaded in the comments is a meme of a cat in New Balance shoes, chasing a mouse, which was suddenly plucked up by a rooster, barefoot, and now I’m Googling dehydrated marathon cats and found quite an interesting story about a cat pulled alive from the rubble in an Italian quake, Northern Lazio sir, the cat’s name being Gioia, which is Italian for Joy, and I’m posting the video of Joy being fed water intravenously surrounded by a crowd of weeping families. 40,000 views sir.”

“Oh.”

Silence.

Clicking.

“Hey, what’s going on here?”

Hu and Sarolta, my most industrious students, had their heads bowed to the underworld that lives beneath high school desks.

“Your plays! We’re supposed to be reading our plays! Eyes up!”

“Just a minute sir. Very sorry.”

“What are you doing? Sarolta?”

“Checking something sir.”

“Something important?”

“Vital sir.”

“What are you checking?”

“Godot sir.”

“Godot?! Thank God. Where’d you find him?”

“SparkNotes sir.”

“Of course.”

“Got the summary all here, character analysis, and something about the theme.”

“What’s it say about the theme?”

“Wait a second. Okay, got it—the fruitlessly timeless condition of passing time insignificantly…”

“Oh!” Ben suddenly ejaculated.

“What’s that Ben? Did you get it?”

“Standard and Poor sir. PKO just went up a half point! Go Trump!”

He reported the news to his right hand.

“Marcin? Help me, please!”

“Sir?”

“Can you say something of substance?”

“Manchester U won on a header by Rooney sir.”

I sank my head into my lap, but held no illumination there.

I waited. The trees outside.

Silence.

“Sir?”

“Huh?”

“What are we doing?”

“Nothing.”

Clicking.

“Sir?”

“Huh?”

“Are we waiting for something?”

“Yes.”

“What are we waiting for sir?”

“We’re waiting for the bell to ring—”

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