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BEST CLASS EVER
History. Language arts. Geography. Science.
To succeed in any of them, you have to be a pretty good reader—which unfortunately I’m not.
But our school is offering a new after-school elective this winter that doesn’t require ANY reading. Plus, the subject is one of my absolute favorite things in the world.
Because every kid in school wanted to sign up, Mr. Demetri decided to have a lottery. I’ve never won a raffle in my life, so I was shocked when Ms. McCoddle posted the lucky few students who made the cut and Matt and I were on the list!
Umberto and Carly were on the waiting list—as if anyone’s going to drop out of such an awesome elective. And when we find out the teacher is Tom Ennis—a local stand-up comic with his own popular YouTube channel—Matt and I can’t contain our excitement. We race down the hallway screaming until Mr. Demetri tells us to knock it off.
“Tom Ennis is HILARIOUS,” I tell Matt on our way to the cafeteria. “We’re going to have a blast.”
Our new teacher’s YouTube channel is called LOL Illusions. He’s gotten hundreds of thousands of subscribers by being a digital magician like Zach King. Every week he uploads a new video featuring an unbelievable trick. He’s not a magician in the traditional sense; instead he’s a wizard in post-production who edits his clips with special effects to make them look like magic.
In the 240 videos he’s uploaded, he’s turned a photo of a kitten into a real kitten in the palm of his hand, he’s leaped into a speeding convertible without ever opening the door, he’s jumped on his bed so hard he falls through and lands underneath it, and he’s thrown a guitar into the dryer and shrank it into an ukulele.
Tom’s buddy Chris is usually in the background too, texting on his phone and ignoring Tom as he pulls off these outrageous stunts. The joke is Chris never looks up quick enough to take a picture of the stunt and misses the magic trick every time. It’s one of my favorite channels, one that I subscribed to immediately after watching Tom’s first clip, where he “makes” dinner by reaching into a cookbook and pulling out a whole turkey.
“Stop rubbing it in,” Umberto finally tells us. “I’d give anything to be in that class.”
If I added up all the hours Matt, Carly, Umberto, and I have spent watching YouTube, the number would be bigger than all the hours we’ve logged at school since kindergarten, combined. (The total would be even larger if they’d let us use our phones during class.) But looking at YouTube from the point of view of a CREATOR versus a VIEWER is gigantic. The class starts tomorrow and I already know I’ll be up all night, too excited to sleep.
When I get home, Mom’s in the kitchen putting a casserole in the oven. She must not have a full schedule at her veterinary practice today, because she’s in her running clothes instead of her usual scrubs, which means she just got off her treadmill. I try to peek into the oven to see how many vegetables she’s hiding in the casserole, but she closes the oven door and asks about my first day back at school after the holiday break.
I blurt out the news about the YouTube class with so much volume that Dad hurries downstairs.
“What’s the ruckus?” he asks. “Are they giving out free puppies at school?”
“Even better.” I repeat the story about my new class.
I’m not sure if it’s to help celebrate or to show how cool he is, but Dad pulls his phone from his pocket and opens up his YouTube app. “This might be the funniest thing I’ve ever seen.” He holds up the screen and plays a video of David coming back from the dentist. My father’s laughing so hard I don’t have the heart to tell him how prehistoric that clip is.
It’s always hard to concentrate on my homework, but tonight it’s especially difficult. Bodi curls underneath the kitchen table as I work, content to just sleep by my feet. Our capuchin, Frank, on the other hand, is jumping around so much, I begin to wonder if he can reach the coffeepot from his crate.
We’ve been a foster family for Frank for almost two years, letting him acclimate to humans before going on to monkey college in Boston where he’ll learn to help people with disabilities. Every time I think of Frank having to leave, I work myself into such a frenzy that one of my parents has to calm me down. Tonight I’m ALREADY in a frenzy, just thinking about how lucky I am to take part in tomorrow’s elective.
YouTube, here I come!
Text copyright © 2018 by Janet Tashjian
Illustrations copyright © 2018 by Jake Tashjian