I Like You, Zapata
Our teacher stormed into the classroom and she said, “You’ll never guess what I just saw at the photocopy machine!”
We were, as always, spellbound by our teacher. “Tell us! Tell us!” we cried.
“Well, there was a guy photocopying posters because he thinks people use the word liketoo much. And he thought I might agree with him, but I said no way Bub! I mean, like is a great word and anyone can use like as much as they like. Anything they’d like to say about the word is like, their business.” She looked out at the class, waiting for our reactions. We all wholeheartedly agreed and couldn’t believe the nerve of that photocopy guy.
“In fact,” she continued with great authority, “I also like the word Zapata. Now, most people think about that Mexican dude when they hear that word, but like, for me Zapata is the perfect word to substitute for any other word. Listen to this: Would you like some Zapata on your sandwich? Or, I’d like to Zapata my best friend. Or even, wouldn’t you rather Zapata than Mambo? Who could resist that?”
We all agreed that no one could resist Zapata on a sandwich. Some people agreed they’d rather Zapata instead of the mambo, but others argued the point, saying that Faulkner didn’t Zapata, and neither did Hemingway. We had to concede that to them, because we all knew Hemingway was famous for his bad ass mambo but we secretly thought Faulkner couldhave Zapata’d. We each kept that to ourselves.
As we argued, our teacher got a dreamy look in her eye and said, “Zapata is earthy, almost mossy, with a touch of citrus and just a hint of leather and cigars. It’s got a mild bite and a strong finish. Why can’t you all see that?”
We stopped chattering and took copious notes on this latest revelation.
“Let’s do an exercise,” she said. “Let’s find as many uses for Zapata when you Zapata. Then, when you do Zapata, finish it with a Zapata. I’ll give you ten minutes. Go.”
We all stared at each other wondering how we could meet such a challenge. After all, we had just been introduced to the concept. Still, everyone put their heads down and started writing furiously, smoke pouring from our ears. One student even cried softly as they wrote while another kept grinning maniacally and rubbing his hands together.
“Time’s up! Zapata,” she said, pointing to a student, “why don’t you read us your example.”
The student cleared his throat. “Okay. My piece is called Second Zapata. It’s about a guy who learns that he’s going to live another fifty years as Zapata, even though he wasn’t Zapata to start.” The student read his piece and we all marveled at his stunning use of the language, and his images were spot on. After he finished, we clapped and concluded two things: that guy really knew how to Zapata and that our teacher was just Zapata for us.