Recently an English teacher at Kingswood Regional High School came under public and administrative scrutiny for allegedly issuing the above writing prompt. I was not in this class, but being a graduate of this very high school and a casual fan of writing prompts, I couldn’t resist the temptation to try my hand at it. A warning, though: my 5-paragraph essay-writing skills are a little rusty.
No, and Also, What?
by Zachary Little
If I got into a fight with my brother and knocked him down, I would not urinate in his mouth. That is my thesis statement, which I will rephrase at the end of this paragraph probably just by inverting the sentence. My reasons for this are threefold, and I will expand on each reason in subsequent paragraphs. First and foremost, urinating in my brother’s mouth seems like an unreasonably extreme response; I can’t imagine him doing anything that would warrant such action. Secondly, were I to urinate in his mouth, I would have reason to fear an escalation of hostilities that would surely endanger my person and/or be gross. Lastly, urinating in mouths doesn’t seem like an appropriate thing to be discussing—why are we writing this? I would not urinate in my brother’s mouth, were I to knock him down during a fight.
There are any number of things I can imagine doing to my brother after knocking him down: kicking him, spitting on him, saying something mean. It is difficult to categorize these responses; unfortunately to my knowledge no one has written a book yet classifying the types of follow-up actions a person can take after knocking their brother down during an altercation. I don’t think, however, it would be a stretch to say that these responses fall well within the bounds of what most people would call “not very sociopathic.” I cannot say the same for urinating in someone’s mouth. Most people would call such a response “very sociopathic,” and they would be right to think so.
Putting that aside, let’s assume that I went ahead and urinated into his mouth. What comes next? Surely my brother would be motivated to do something even more extreme to me once he got up, probably involving some other bodily fluid, such as blood. I find blood to be very disturbing—just the sight of it makes me feel queasy. What if my brother were to intentionally cut himself and then force me to drink his blood? I think you will agree that if I were to urinate in his mouth, doing such a thing would be not unreasonable or unexpected. That would be a proportional response. A very real fear of escalation would halt me from urinating in my brother’s mouth, even if I exhausted all of the “non-sociopathic” responses. I would probably just let him get up.
Finally, I wish you would have talked to us about this writing prompt before assigning it. Some teachers surely don’t yet grasp the new lay of the land, the way bizarre stories can take off like never before on the internet and cable news. Just about anything can “go viral,” as it were, and I have a strange feeling that something bad is going to come of this writing prompt. Surely a few students will discuss this with their parents over dinner; it is not every day that we receive a writing prompt that is even remotely interesting. Some students might even blog about it—you never know. I’m sure we could have brought that to your attention, were you to have told us that you were thinking about a prompt like this. I don’t want to tell you how to do your job, but most teachers just ask us what we want to do after college or something like that. This doesn’t seem like a normal thing to be writing about.
In conclusion, I would not urinate in my brother’s mouth, really under any circumstances, unless perhaps a jellyfish somehow managed to sting his tongue. I think you will agree the odds of that happening are not great. I most certainly would not urinate in his mouth were I to have knocked him down during a fight. It seems too drastic, too disturbing, and I would have real reason to fear for my safety were I to perpetrate such an act. I hope this satisfies whatever curiosity overtook you when you dreamed up this writing prompt, because I think I hear the news vans pulling up all ready. Someone must have tweeted this. I would not, were I to knock my brother down during a fight, urinate in his mouth.