Monday, March 21, 2011

The 5th Grader Question

Where Billy and I spent the night in Salzburg.

Billy and I were in Salzburg, Austria. We stopped there on our backpacking trip across Europe in the Fall of 2004. We met some American students studying there whose university put them up in the convent in the middle of the city. It's the convent that has the garden from "The Sound of Music" where Julie Andrews twirls around and sings or something. Their roommates were out for the weekend and they let us stay with them.

On our last morning in Salzburg, I woke up fairly bleary, strolled to the living room from the room I stayed in to find Billy hanging out with our hosts who asked me a question I've pondered very carefully ever since:

"Phil, how many fifth graders do you think you could kill?"

And suddenly, my life had meaning. Everything else had led up to this point. My essence, my very being became solely dedicated to answering this question.

The fifth graders look like this.

Not like this.

It is a fairly open-ended question. The scenario presented does not incorporate real fifth grade children. The fifth graders we're discussing here are soul-less, zombie fifth graders (not zombie in the sense that if they bite you, you turn zombie too, just that they don't behave like humans) whose only aim in life is to kill you. As they have no souls, there is no moral repercussion for destroying them. They have all the physical attributes of average American fifth graders. They are neither afraid of you nor what you can do to them. A certain number are attacking you at once. They have no weapons and neither do you. If they had brought one more fifth grader, they would kill you, but you can take out what they did bring today. What is that number? What is your fifth grader threshold?

You can knock them out and kill them later. You can kill them immediately. You can throw smaller ones at the bigger ones. There are no rules. Kill or be killed.

What springs to your mind in this proposition? Where are you when they attack? An open field allows you more mobility than, say, an elementary school classroom. However, the classroom has hard walls, floors, desks and other objects to throw them into, possibly incapacitating them. Are you in a jungle or forest where you could climb trees or use vines to your advantage? Are you in a desert where you could be smothered by them in the sand?

Remember, they have all the physical attributes and abilities of a fair cross-section of fifth graders. Some are going to be bigger than others. They can each punch, kick, bite, scratch, grab and choke with the strength of one fifth grader.

After running through this scenario for nearly 7 years, I think I could take out 9 indoors, 15 in an open field.

And what of you, my zombie-repellent readers? How many fifth graders could you kill?

No comments:

Post a Comment