Tuesday, May 6, 2008

jack the ripper: menace to society

disclaimer: this story is extremely bizarre but entirely true. kids, get an adult's permission before reading this story. it contains nudity, violence, and mass murder. not even kidding.

hopefully some of you remember that i taught english 101 this semester through reading and analysis of jack the ripper writings. at the end of the semester, i had students create ripper letters. for those of you who are not versed in ripperology, the ripper (or people claiming to be him) sent over 600 letters to the metropolitan police in 1888 and the years following. these letters were full of taunts aimed at the incompotent investigators of the ripper murders and they were quite the spectacle. regularly published in the newspapers, these letters are only used as evidence by very few ripperologists, but they are intriguing for study nonetheless. many of my students wrote interesting papers about the letters during the semester, so most of my students chose this option for their final project.

i, of course, encouraged my students to be really creative with this project. many of them did get creative and turned in really nice fraudulent ripper letters and i loved looking at and reading all of them. i regret not having taken pictures for you, but i still have the letters, maybe i'll do that soon.

anyway, one student really outdid herself putting together not just a ripper letter but an entire ripper parcel. she wrapped the fairly large box (think wider shoebox) in brown paper and addressed it to the whitechapel police and even drew a fancy 19th century postmark on the corner. inside the box, i was surprised to find a bloody mess. (it was perfect!) she had smeared red acrylic paint all over the inside of the box and the enclosures. there was, naturally, a letter included, but beyond that she had also made and enclosed a ripper-like knife, a peice of earlobe crafted out of tofu wrapped in a bit of tissue, and...a bloody breast made out of some sort of baked clay or dough or something.

we ooh-ed and aah-ed over her project for days. the class was really impressed as were my officemates, other tas, and pat.

i kept all the ripper letters, as i mentioned before, but since this one was so large, it sat on the floor in the corner beside my desk.

well...fast forward a week to the present. i was sitting at my desk trying to work on my last paper of the semester, when i suddenly find myself very much bothered by a fly. i opened the windows earlier, so i'm not too surprised, but still a little bit annoyed. i shoo it away and it comes back. i shoo it away and yet it comes back. i finally get it out the window and breathe a sigh of relief as i sit back down to work.

but...hmm...what is that noise? i guess it's my chair settling or just a general 'neville noise'. wait. i think i heard it again. then it hits me.

the boob. it must be edible.

well...now i'm nervous, but i decide that i have to look in the box. i slowly pick up the parcel addressed to the whitechapel police and notice a hole has been eaten through the corner of the box and there are ants all over the bottom. oh man.

well, it was violent before, but now it's just wrong inside that box. not only are all enclosures present, but the bloody breast now has ants climbing all over it. are you kidding me?

so, i set the box down again and consider my options. evan and i are cleaning the office top to bottom on saturday, so i could always just put this off until then. but, what if the ants start enjoying their new home? i still want to keep this girl's amazing project, so i don't even think about dumping the box. so what did i do? i texted matt. :)

matt tells me to throw out the boob and cut my losses. i had realized that i would have to do this, so i've already begun taking phone pictures of the box and its enclosures (including the ants) before i have to unceremoniously chuck the breast.

in my brilliance, i put the box on evan's desk (the only empty one) to take the pictures. naturally, this just spread the ants around. i now have to go into rambo mode and kill many ants very quickly on evan's desk before they are able to leave the surface and multiply. i did this first round of killings with a simple napkin-smoosh technique.

i then dropped the anty boob in the trash can and placed the box (boob-less but still ant-ridden) in a second empty trashbag to hopefully kill the ants through deprivation of oxygen. i'll check on it saturday, perhaps.

now, the box (and the disaster i caused at evan's desk) are taken care of. i decide to sanitize evan's desk (read: ant killing ground) with instant hand sanitizer and a new napkin. this works wonders and everything smells quite fresh.

then, eureka! the sanitizer! with a renewed taste for blood, i move back to my ant-filled corner and begin to squirt, squirt, squirt the ants with the instant hand sanitizer, and do you know what?! it works! and fast! the ants are frantic, but i'm worried they will run from their exit point and into other parts of the room so i begin moving the brown paper the box was wrapped in (had i been thinking calmly and rationally i would have used something else, but i can still salvage the address part) with my foot in order to spread the sanitizer to a large area and effectively kill all the ants immediately.

by jove, this worked too! so now i'm getting excited. i lifted up my poster tube to find at least 20-30 more ants. no problem! squirt them away! i decided to use more napkins to spread the stuff this time, so no more harm to my student's project.

only problem - i'm by this time quite close to the battlefield since i am no longer using my foot but my hand to kill these suckers. there is much alcohol in this sanitizer so i'm feeling a bit spinny, but this is crackers compared to the annialation i am bringing to these intruders!

finally convinced of my victory over the tiny creatures, i set down the hand sanitizer and texted matt to tell him all is well.

and then, well, i blogged.

i guess i should get back to work. this was the best paper writing break ever.


i came into the office this morning at 9am for a meeting with evan and mike. this story came rushing back to me in a flood of remembering, so i excitedly told evan about my conquests. then. it dawned on me.

the box was missing.

apparently our lovable janitor ray mistook its garbage-bag wrapping for an indicator of worthlessness. i'm really quite sad.

HOWEVER i did manage to put her letter and the box wrapping in my desk with the other ripper letters when everything was happening. all is not lost, but some. and i do have those phone pictures.

life goes on. but jack the ripper? still a menace.


jess said...

a) that was an amazing story.
b) i think that it is spelled annihilation. i'm sorry, but very proud of myself to have caught that.

trresa said...

I'm having a hard time trying to decide what to write, this story has a little bit of everything! Bottom line, it was great, thanks for sharing it with us. I am a little worried about what you're going to find when you go back, be careful!

Anita said...

I'm sad about the ants - that box sounded INCREDIBLE!!! Hope she got an A...By the way, grandaddy does not comment or blog on here but he is reading and this one got a response from him and he said "bloody breast" out loud:) Good job Manda.

trresa said...

Sorry to hear the update to this story, but I'm glad you saved part of it. It sounds like you have a great janitor though! It probably also upsets you that I ended the first sentence with "it" and started both the second and third sentences with "it". If only I could learn in your class and make such fun projects. I'll see your face in 5 days!!!