BY JESSE EISENBERG
Yesterday we took a class trip to the Museum of Natural History, which is a place where you’re supposed to learn about history but all you really do is look at dinosaur skeletons and eat lunch. And it’s so strange and really sad to see the dinosaur skeletons because, not only are those dinosaurs dead but all dinosaurs are dead. It was kind of like visiting a cemetery but instead of everyone being buried, their bones were above the ground and held together like they were still trying to be alive.
But instead of feeling sad for the dinosaurs or just being quiet like you’re supposed to do at a funeral, all the kids were making jokes and acting stupid. And even though the dinosaurs were scary and would probably eat me if they were alive, I started to feel bad for them.
The woman who works for the museum explained that there were three different kinds of dinosaurs: some were carnivores, which means they ate the other dinosaurs; some were herbivores, which means they were nice and didn’t eat each other; and some were omnivores, which means they ate everything. Billy, a kid in my class, is an omnivore because he will literally eat anything on a dare. Last week he ate entire pack of gum, even the wrapper, and then threw up and got to miss gym.
The dinosaurs were also very mean to each other. They would fight and use their mouths and teeth and claws to attack each other. The Tyrannosaurus Rex was the meanest one. He looked the meanest and his name sounded the meanest and he ate all the other dinosaurs. The one who was the nicest was the Brontosaurus because he was really big but he had a tiny little head and he never ate any other dinosaurs. And I thought it must have been scary to be a Brontosaurus because he just wanted to be nice but there was probably a lot of pressure to be mean because he was a dinosaur.
All the kids wanted to take pictures in front of the dinosaur skeletons and they were laughing and making stupid faces like they were imitating the dinosaurs. I started to imagine the dinosaurs coming alive and watching the kids do this in front of their dead bones and I suddenly got sad for them. I asked the museum lady if I could go to the bathroom and she said it was okay and that I should meet everyone back in the Museum Cafeteria. Usually we’re supposed to bring a buddy to the bathroom but I didn’t really feel like I had a buddy, so I went alone and waited in the stall until lunchtime.
In the Museum Cafeteria, everyone got dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets, which were like regular chicken nuggets but formed into the bodies of dinosaurs. I thought it was strange to eat dinosaur-shaped chicken because the dinosaurs were dead and it felt like we were making fun of them by eating their bodies in fun looking shapes. So I just got a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and then Billy called me a faggot, which means gay. I wanted to tell him that he’s a faggot too because he was eating the body of the dinosaur, but I didn’t want to say the word faggot because it sounds mean so I just looked down at my sandwich and sort of lost my appetite. I think if Billy was a dinosaur he would be a Tyrannosaurus Rex and I would be a Brontosaurus and I wouldn’t try to hurt him but I would also not be bullied because the Brontosaurus is much bigger than the Tyrannosaurus Rex.
On the bus ride home, everyone was texting each other the pictures of themselves doing funny things in front of the dinosaurs. Mark Schwartz made it look like he was picking a Stegosaurus’ nose. Madison Greenwood was pretending to dance with a Triceratops.
Even Matthew took a picture doing a split with his arms stretched out like a bird underneath a Pterodactyl. I thought it was weird because Matthew usually behaves better. Sometimes he does bad things to fit in but I think this is probably because he doesn’t fully know which dinosaur he wants to be.
Everyone was laughing at the pictures together and I started to feel a little lonely, like I wasn’t involved with the group or like everyone was laughing at a joke that I couldn’t hear. And I thought that maybe I should have eaten the dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets and taken a picture in front of a dinosaur doing something stupid. I would have been uncomfortable for a few minutes but it would mean that I would have been able to fit in with my friends. Or maybe I would have had a bathroom buddy. Or maybe I wouldn’t have had to hide in the bathroom at all.
And I guess it’s like what the dinosaurs had to do. They probably didn’t want to always be so angry and they probably definitely didn’t want to eat each other but I guess, if you want to be part of a group, you have to make compromises sometimes. And I guess, in that way, we aren’t that much different from the dinosaurs. And even though we think we’re better and smarter because we wear clothes and speak English, maybe we’re all just trying to fit in even though it means we sometimes have to do things that make us uncomfortable. That’s why I’m giving the Museum of Natural History 1109 out of 2000 stars.