My sister recently gave me “172 Things ‘To Do’ in Order to Increase Your Level of Accomplishment”, a book that lists 172 goofy and senseless exercises and tasks.
Some of my favorites in this book include:
- Squint every time you hear the word ‘tomorrow’
- Test out alternate laughs
- Practice drawing polar bears
- Find out how to say the word ‘gymnasium’ in Ukranian
- Time how long between swallows
- Make a topographical map of your bathroom
- Make up a word and slip it into conversation - make notes about who questions it
- Talk to a fish (dead or alive)
- Answer the phone with verbs only
- Carry a spoon with you unless its raining
- Make a song about your kitchen
Another, maybe even stranger, exercise asks the reader to photocopy an image of a lobster and deliver it to a neighbor.
“It’s too bad Mr. Igose is no longer my neighbor,” I thought, choosing an image of a lobster from Google. “He would have taken the photocopy.”
Mr. Igose was my fifth grade geography teacher and later the vice-principal of my high school. He was a strange man who wore plaid, boxy ties and short-sleeved striped shirts. When I was 11, Mr. Igose punished me for “horsing around” by forcing me to sing a song from the musical Pirates of Penzance in front of our entire class. It was terrible. He printed out lyrics to one of the play’s tunes and made me sing along to a recording, a punishment that appears odder and odder with each passing year. As funny as it sounds now, I recall be devastatingly embarrassed.
Five years later, at the age of 16, whispers began circulating around my high school’s halls that Mr. Igose had gotten into trouble with local police.
“I heard he murdered someone,” one student said. “Robbed a little old lady,” another claimed.
Soon rumors were flying around the school like a high-speed bouncy ball. ”He should get ten years.” “Twenty!”
By the time Mr. Igose returned to work, the combined imaginations of those in the student body had practically sentenced him to death for four counts of first-degree murder and one of animal abuse.
But no. The summation of the creative energies of ten student bodies could not have prepared us for what he actually did. For days, we begged our teachers to spill the beans but were forced to wait around a week for the story to surface in the local newspaper.
Scranton, Pennsylvania’s Times-Tribune reported that Mr. Igose had not in fact murdered anyone but rather had been caught shoplifting lobsters from the local grocery store. He was nabbed at the front doors of Price Chopper Market by security, who had noticed wet bulges in his pants thrashing about violently.
Police later found Mr. Igose had attempted to hide three large lobsters in the crotch of his baggie, pleaded khakis. When the crustaceans were removed publicly in front of the other shoppers in the market, Mr Igose, pants around his ankles, claimed he was shocked they had managed to “fall into my trousers unnoticed”.
To do this day, I feel somewhat bad for the guy, who, following the incident, quickly adopted the name Lobsterpants… not to mention his sons, who have all since taken on the nicknames Lobsterpants One through Three.
But, in my eyes, Mr. Igose got what he deserved. Pirates of Pinzanzce? Do you know what that does to a fifth grader’s reputation? It’s almost as bad as… as bad as… getting caught with lobsters in your pants when you’re the vice-principal of a local high school. Well, maybe not that bad… Lobsterpants.