We’re studying the play version of The Diary of Anne Frank in seventh grade right now, and yesterday, we were discussing the inconveniences of hiding for your life beyond the whole obvious “you could die” thing.
We talked about how Anne’s family and the Van Daans, who spent over two years hiding in some small rooms on the top floor of a warehouse, had to be very quiet during the day while people were working in the warehouse below, so as not to arouse suspicion. I was trying to paint the picture of how difficult the living conditions would have been, so I talked about things like not being able to talk, or look out the window, or cook, or even use the bathroom during business hours.
Naturally, students were quick to point out that technically speaking, you might be able to “go” as long as you refrained from flushing.
Good thing we flushed out that detail, I thought to myself without meaning to pun.
And then one student asked the whopper of all questions, a question most noteworthy because of the sincere and genuinely inquisitive way in which it was asked.
“Why couldn’t they just go on the floor?”
This is a question I’m 99.99% sure my high school students have never asked me, thanks be to God.
And then, because I was stupid and frankly, a little frightened, I actually attempted to answer the question
in case I might be single-handedly responsible for preventing the next bubonic plague as if it were a rational one. While doing this, there rose large in my mind a mental picture of the horror of a “What if?” situation where I would be stuck in hiding with someone who didn’t understand why relieving oneself on the floor might not be the best possible course of action. Any of you ever tried to stifle the gag reflex while continuing to talk?
So I stumbled around with answering the obvious for a while, and then we moved on to greater things, like trying to refrain from pencil tapping while reading. It was a lesson fraught with small victories.
Later that day, as I reflected on the day’s events, I realized something that might forever alter my entire self-image.
Y’all, this is, in essence, what I do for a living. I get paid to teach the next generation, our bright shining hope for the future, why you shouldn’t micturate on the floor.