Odysseus vs. Muhammad

On Friday all of my third period Freshmen students dressed up as their favorite hero–from history, movies, books, sports–whomever they admired–and then we challenged each other to fights to see who was the greatest hero. So I was Odysseus and also the referee and I would make sure that the battles were realistic and that everyone stayed true to character. For example, when Albert Einstein fought Kobe Bryant I would tell Kobe that he could dunk on Albert Einstein or perhaps rape him, but that Einstein could actually nuke Kobe Bryant’s family. Then they would mime the battle in super slow motion (while my computer played the battle track from A New Hope) to give it that epic feeling. The kids loved it! And of course they learned that sometimes being a great scientist is cooler than being a superstar athlete–not a message they hear often in our culture.

Some battles were made in heaven. Todd S. came as his own great-grandfather who had survived Aushwitz and the death march, while Connor (who is a bit autistic and never participates in anything) slicked back his hair, glued on a mustache and came as his favorite military hero, Adolf Hitler. I allowed Hitler to beat, shoot and gas Mr. S while Mr. S could only writhe in pain and, with his last breaths, thumb his nose at Hitler, who would grow more and more frustrated. Finally, he shot himself in the head and Connor took a full minute to die, which was super funny. And of course the lesson here was that Courage always trumps Evil!

Many heroes challenged me, The Man Who is Never at a Loss, the Great Odysseus, and each time I smote them with my sword or battle ax. My favorite moment was decapitating Peyton Manning after he hurled (imaginary) footballs at my head. But then things got dicey when Hana, dressed as the Muslim prophet Muhammad, issued a fatwa on me and my descendants. Of course I easily took her out with an arrow between the eyes, but then the entire class–acting as her followers–captured me, cut my throat and paraded my corpse around the room. After that things got a little out of control and a full scale slow motion riot broke out. Fortunately the bell rang a few minutes later.

Pleased to Meet You


5 thoughts on “Odysseus vs. Muhammad

  1. So I’m perusing the list of Pleased-to-meet-you responses, because that’s today’s 101 assignment, and I’m looking for something to read (a title or blog name) that catches my eye. The first one that stops me cold is “39-Year-old Virgin.” She’s a grad student, lonely, and perhaps, she thinks, insane. My take is…just horny as hell. But that’s another story, though she wrote a fantastic response. Then I landed on your blackboard–do they still have blackboards? They’re all white where I teach. Your writing is very crisp, clean, sharp. And funny.

    I didn’t follow the prompt strictly, like the virgin did. I’m in Bali and writing mostly travel stuff with photographs, so I had Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray, Love…probably not your cup of tea?) meet my alter ego in Ubud, where her “love” chapters took place.


  2. Wow, why do I never get such fun classes? This seems like a great exercise and at the same time it isn’t boring. Hopefully you won’t have any riots in class in the future 🙂


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