Next week my middle school students are doing a listening test. To prepare them for it my co-teacher gave them a practice test, and then I went over a key point from each question. This all sounds fine, and it was, except that the two characters doing the speaking were creepy as. The woman, in true stained white singlet wearing, Lion-Red-out-of-a-can drinking form, is named "Woman". How she managed to find time to record this in between having babies and cooking "Man" some eggs I don't know. Her character is not nearly as disturbing as Man, but she has her moments. Take this exchange:
Man: Who runs faster?
Woman: I'm running a business.
I'm about to go and ask my co-teacher if I can have a copy of the sound file, if that doesn't work you will just have to take my word that it's the most sarcastic conversation you're ever likely to hear. [Edit: She only had a copy on cassette tape, but 1987 called and they wanted their technology back. You'll just have to read the sarcasm into my transcripts.] Not only is Woman chained to the stove barefoot and pregnant, she's also the sole breadwinner for the family while Man sits around plotting his various horrifying adventures (more on that later). On top of this he constantly taunts her with his ability to catch her should she ever try to escape.
The man, who sounds like a robotic James Spader, has up until this point been referred to only as "Man". This changes in the next section when he calls a travel agent to change his flight to Los Angeles, presumably to visit his secret other family. It should be mentioned that the woman he speaks to at the travel agency is clearly the same Woman from before, but she still asks him his name. He tells her it's James White.
All this is really just the abusive tip of a massively awful iceberg. Remember how Man/James sounds like James Spader? I mean Boston Legal era Spader. The man is at least forty. This is why it's so disturbing when he turns up in question 6 pretending to be a high school student.
M: Hello, everyone. My name is James. I am 16 years old, just like you. My hobbies are reading science fiction books and making plastic model spaceships. I have a lot of interest in space science, and I want to become a space scientist when I grow up. I hope to get to know you very well make a lot of friends here.
Get to know you very well and make a lot of friends here. It's like a terrifying remake of Never Been Kissed with a creepier version of Alan Shore as Drew Barrymore, Nic Cage as the high school principal, and Eddie Murphy as everyone else. I never actually saw that movie so this might not work exactly. He's also using the same pseudonym for his Never Been Kissed fantasy that he uses for his secret family in Califonia, which just seems lazy. In any case, there's is no doubt in my mind that Man/Robo-Spader's only reason for doing this was to gain the trust of children and, eventually, rape them. The faux-innocence of his interest in "space science" (whatever that is) only makes it more sickening.
The next few questions feature the same two characters alternating between pretending to be strangers and pretending to be best friends. Shit doesn't get too real again until question 16.
W: Mark, can you help me with this science problem?
M: Sure, is it the one where you have to calculate the speed?
W: Yes, I already know the distance and the time.
M: Now all you have to do is divide the distance by the time.
W: So all I have to do is divide metres by seconds?
M: That's right. It's not too dificult.
Mark? Who the shit is Mark? Does Man insist on using a pseudonym when his wife needs help with science problems? I did wonder why she was working something like this out in the first place, but then I realised Man must be forcing her to do his homework for his "pretend to be a high school student and rape children" scheme.
Next Man calls Woman, who seems to now be working as a receptionist, and asks to speak to Ms. Johns. She's not there but Man leaves her a message:
M: Tell her that Tom called.
So whatever he was calling Ms. Johns about must have been more deserving of a fake name than that time he pretended to be a high school student, or his secret family. I hate to think what it was.
Anyway, if anyone asks me what I did today I can honestly say that I desensitised a large group of children to the very real possibility that a robotic James Spader will one day try to rape them. Not many people can say that.