Eric D. Snider

A Total Eclipse of the Brain

Lake Elsinore News #46

"A Total Eclipse of the Brain"

by Eric D. Snider

Published in The Lake Elsinore News on July 24, 1991

As you are no doubt aware, July 11 was the day when, after months and months of preparation, the world's scientists were finally able to perform a good eclipse. The public response was so overwhelming, in fact, that another one is being planned for next month.

I am taking a class in summer school, so I witnessed firsthand the school's reaction to the eclipse, that reaction being, "AAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!" The school is apparently afraid of being sued, because on the day of the eclipse, teachers were instructed by principal Dr. Ed Brand M.D., to keep students inside from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. because (and I am quoting the bulletin given to the teachers) "a 10-second exposer can damage the retina." As an alternative, teachers had the option of taking their classes over to the gym to watch the eclipse on TV.This raises some questions, namely:

  • What does "exposer" mean? Did he mean "exposure," or was he referring to people who expose themselves (as in, "That man's an exposer! Don't look at him for more than 10 seconds!")?

  • Do they really think that, just because someone is taking summer school, he must be stupid enough to stare directly at the sun? (And for 10 seconds?!? Show me someone who can look at the sun for 10 seconds without blinking and I'll show you someone who does not have eyelids.)

    Or maybe it's that they think eclipses emit some kind of Deadly Eclipse Ray that will blind anyone who comes near it. If that's that case, though, then why were they inviting kids to watch it on TV? Couldn't they be blinded while walking from their classroom to the gym? Or was the Administration issuing students special Eclipse-Proof Suits so that they would not be injured and the school district would therefore not be sued?

    I don't mean to attack the Administration (well, okay, I do mean to attack the Administration), but the whole thing was kind of silly. First of all, the bulletin was written in an extremely illiterate manner. Not just the "exposer" thing, but also the fact that it contained no less than eleven words that were capitalized unnecessarily (words such as "students" and "television").

    Furthermore, keeping kids inside from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. would only be doing half the job. The eclipse reached its peak at 11:30; it started to reverse after that. So kids were just as likely to look at it after 11:30 as they were before, because it looked just the same -- the moon was just moving in the opposite direction.

    Finally, the warnings didn't do any good. Several people in my class, accompanied by my friend Aaron the Eclipse Expert, went outside and, dodging the Eclipse Police who had been ordered by Dr. Brand to shoot on sight anyone caught looking up, observed the eclipse and said, quote, "Oooh. Neat." If they thought they could keep a once-in-a-lifetime thing like that from us, they're as goofy as their bulletins.

    Stumble It!

    Notes:

    This is one of my favorite columns because it's the best I ever did at mocking the high school administration. I tried several times, but this one is the most concise, funny, and leak-proof. I mean, what's the other side of the story? What key point could the administration make in its defense that would make the illiteracy of the bulletin and the stupidity of the decision seem OK? None that I can think of.

    I also like the fact that the bulletin in question was intended for teachers' eyes only. I was taking a drama class, and the teacher -- the illustrious Craig Duke, mentioned occasionally in other columns -- made sure I saw it so that I could make fun of it. Bless him for that.


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