That Troublesome Etching

While a student at a so-called 'brand-name' boy’s school, back in the 80’s, there was a chronic shortage of chairs. This annoying problem usually made the school day one long game of musical chairs for students.  So, for instance, if you took your break at lunchtime, had to go to the science lab or basically went anywhere that required you leaving your classroom, you would often return to find your chair missing. This was quite frustrating and there was really no way of preventing this from happening.

It so happened that one day, to the chagrin of myself and my fellow students, several etchings of male genitalia, apparently done with a sharp-pointed compass, started appearing on some of these chairs. Obviously this was disastrous, since we surely could not afford anymore chairs being taken out of circulation and it did not have to be stated that no boy dared sit on any of these chairs.


On one occasion, just as the students were getting settled and prepared for class, there happened to be one of these chairs in the corner.  Coincidently, there had just returned to the class, a dejected looking classmate, who had searched far and wide, but without success, for a chair. There it was, a student in need of a seat standing at the entrance to the class, and across the room from him, in the corner, a perfectly good, albeit phallicly-marked chair.

It is at these ‘push-come-to-shove’ times when the brain kicks in to gear. To everybody's surprise, including the impatient teacher, the chap calmly went into his schoolbag, took out his exercise book (from another subject, of course!) and tore out the folded middle leaves. Moving the chair over to his desk, he then took the leaves and carefully placed them over the offensive etching, loudly proclaiming, “Unnu seet?…It cover!”

Einstein’s initial explanation of e=mc², I am sure, was not met by a more impressed audience.  For in that one simple action, a dilemma was now addressed. The sinister prankster behind the dastardly acts, whoever he was, would now, no longer have the power to frustrate. No further disruptions would occur from his etchings, at least any that could not be fixed by a sheet of paper.