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Pecan Pie for the Mind: Spending seventh grade on an airplane
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I was on an airplane today, and I was miserable. The guy behind me griped when I reclined my tiny coach seat: "That's not going to work! Those are my knees!" So, I remained squished in my seat, bolt upright. I once loved to fly, and now I hate it. The only happy person was the little seventh grader sitting in comfort beside me. She was so small she occupied only a tiny portion of her seat. I'm surprised the jerk behind me didn't ask her to hold one of his feet. During the flight, she was so mature and sophisticated that I came up with an idea. What if we only allowed little seventh graders on airplanes? What if all the adults stayed home where they and their kneecaps belong?

It's a fact: Middle school is a horrible experience. What if we changed seventh grade into a gigantic field trip? Instead of going to school, all seventh graders would be assigned to a corporation for the entire school year. Each morning, a yellow limo would collect all the junior executives and take them to the airport, where each kid would board a plane, bound for some location, to do the bidding of their bosses. One kid would fly to Detroit to negotiate prices for automatic transmissions. Another would fly to New York to interview models for overcoat ads. Another would fly to San Francisco to sign a hot new band for the label. This would be pretty exciting to kids who would otherwise be conjugating irregular verbs. Can you imagine a squadron of cheerful tiny people who are actually thrilled at the idea of flying in a metal tube? Think of the fuel savings. Think of the reduced alcohol-related accidents.

After one year of travel and hard work, the kids would return to school. Just think how different eighth grade would be. There would be school yard stories of sales conferences, corporate mergers, contract negotiations, and stock options. But there would also be just as many stories of rude behavior, flight delays and lost luggage. I'll bet the kids would be thrilled to be back in school. They might even pay attention to some of the more interesting irregular verbs. Corporate America: a never ending supply of seventh graders awaits. Can we make this dream happen? Or are we all knees and no guts?

David McCoy, a notorious storyteller and proud Yellow Jacket, lives in Conyers. He can be reached at