Sunday, April 24, 2016

If I were a teacher, this is the reading comprehension test I would give:

Part A
In which the reader reads,
and makes an effort to understand what is written.

Say you were a thirty-something and had worked for a decade with the same large company. You are a marketing specialist and well-respected by your closest colleagues who, at this point in their careers, are already so jaded that they don’t otherwise respect much of anything or anybody else. You work this job about 35 hours a week and commute round-trip in your car about two and a half hours everyday.

You hate the commute, but you do look forward somewhat to the drive home, which is the occasion for smoking a joint and listening to Isaac Hayes, Pat Benatar and the Decembrists, among others. You don’t mind cooking and, upon arriving home, generally spend an hour or so in the kitchen, smoking another joint and preparing dinners with more than one course.

After dinner you usually watch TV for a bit, though quite frankly there’s not much on that makes that feel like time well spent. Sometimes, you call your boyfriend who lives about two hours away. Sometimes, you call your girlfriend who lives about the same distance away, though not in the same direction.

As it happens, your boyfriend and girlfriend know and like each other, though you are somewhat hazy about how they actually met. Neither of them seems aware that you have an intimate relationship with the other. You’re not really hiding that fact from them, but the subject never seems to come up. Ironically, you think the two of them would make a great couple.

You grew up in a pretty religious household, but you and God drifted apart a long time ago. You still always capitalize God’s name, but only because that’s his name. You capitalize Shani’s name for the same reason, but don’t capitalize tyson’s name because he doesn’t do so. Needless to say, you don’t go to church.

You spend about one weekend each month at Shani’s and she stays one weekend a month at your place. You have the same arrangement with tyson. Though these arrangements mean you drive an extra 8 hours and 400 miles, or so, every month, at least it’s not rush hour traffic. Also gas prices are pretty low right now and your probably saving about $125 this year on what it cost to get laid every other weekend last year.

You used to go on long bike rides every Sunday, but you just recently decided that the bike rides are part of a routine that helps you to not think about the parts of your life that you don’t really like anymore. Lately you’re thinking that you need to spend Sunday afternoons figuring out what needs to change. That’s a little scary because you’re afraid that the answer is everything.

Part B – Multiple Choice
In which the reader walks in the shoes
of the thirty-something described in the text and begins to respond.
This may not be as easy as it seems.

A.  I am a person of color
B.  No, I’m not
C.  I am ambidextrous
D.  I am bisexual
E.  No, I’m not
F.   I am a fugitive in hiding, a witness protection program, perhaps
G.  I should be in hiding
H.  I am a marketing expert
I.   That’s what I do for 35 hours each week, not what I am
J.   I also drive about 60 hours a month, give or take, but that’s not what I am, either
K.  I can’t decide whether I drive too much or too little
L.  I should be able to figure that out
M. My neighbors are worse off than I am
N.  What difference does that make
O.  I spend about 24 hours every week with lovers—that’s a good thing
P.   I am completely indifferent to the fate of others
Q.  No, I’m not
R.  Yes, you are
S.   I am something other than what has been described here
T.   It’s written in the second person singular, if this is not you, who are you?

Part C – Essay
In which the reader chooses one
of the following topics,
and writes until he or she cannot endure any more

 1.   Explain yourself. 
2.  Explain someone else.
3.  Explain nothing.