Arithmetic

Teacher:    How many tanks did you destroy yesterday,
                  Robert?
Robert:       Eight, teacher.
Teacher:    How many persons were in each of those tanks,
                  Robert?
Robert:       Five, teacher.
Teacher:    Now the multiplication problem for today
                  is this: How many persons were destroyed
                  yesterday?
Robert:       8 x 5 = 40
Teacher:    Very good, Robert. That is the correct answer.

                  The next problem is this: if every person
                  in every tank had two surviving parents?

                  40 x 2 = 80
                  and one loving spouse?
                  40 x 1 = 40
                  and three children?
                  40 x 3 = 120
                  and only one friend in the whole world?
                  40 x 1 = 40
                  but one brother,
                  40
                  two sisters,
                  80
                  one grandmother?
                  40
                  Can you add those figures, Robert?
                  480, teacher.

                  How long to heal the grief, Robert?
                  I don't know.
                  How long for the rage to rest?
                  I don't know.
                  How long for you to forget yesterday?
                  I don't know.
                  That's the lesson for today.

                  But, teacher
                  Yes?
                  I don't think the last question was fair.
                  Oh?
                  Because it was really just like Nintendo.
                  Oh Robert.

Grand Junction, CO,
1991

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