I had always been naive, but I had never known anyone quite like Mr. Murphy, my eleventh grade chemistry teacher. He was somewhat heavyset and had short reddish hair. Mr. Murphy, as I later learned, joked about everything. As with anyone else with my disorder, I, on the other hand, took everything literally, no matter what was said, especially if the person had a serious look.
On the first day of lab, I noticed an odd apparatus consisting of glass containers and hoses on a table in the corner of the room. Each container held some transparent liquid. After staring at it for a while, I asked Mr. Murphy what it was.
He rolled his eyes and drew back slightly. Once he inhaled, he grinned and stated in a matter-of-fact voice, "That is, of course, a nuclear reactor, and I am producing plutonium for fuel for my spaceship for my trip to Mars."
I thanked him for that information, though I did wonder if he would finish the school year before leaving Earth.
On another occasion, I was sitting in the school cafeteria eating lunch when some of my classmates came and sat beside me. This was unusual. I hardly ever had company at lunch. I greeted them all, and went back to eating.
The boy sitting closest to me on my right spoke first. "Hey, Danny, we have a question for you to ask Mr. Murphy," he said, snickering.
I looked at him curiously, and said, "Really? What is that?"
He leaned over, and said, "We heard that peanuts are an aphrodisiac, and we need to know if this is true."
I was puzzled, for this was truly one subject I had never researched. I had no idea what an aphrodisiac even was, but I was flattered that the guys had chosen me to approach Mr. Murphy for them.
I walked up to Mr. Murphy, who was surveying the cafeteria crowd, and got his attention. I asked, "Mr. Murphy, is it true that peanuts are an aphrodisiac?"
He laughed, and asked me to repeat the question in a louder voice, so I did. The cafeteria suddenly became quiet. I presumed other students were interested in this research too.
He flashed his mischievous grin and replied, "Well, Danny, let's do a study to find out. Why don't you go on a diet heavy in peanuts and tell the rest of us the results of your experiment in a week or so?"
My fellow students were mysteriously convulsing with laughter. I went home and checked our cupboard. There were no peanuts there, so I decided the study would just have to wait until another time. It was weeks before I realized my fellow students having fun at my expense, though I still did not understand they would want to.
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