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Rated: ASR · Short Story · Comedy · #2146363
A story about an AI and a teacher. . .
"Ms. Fletcher?"

"Yes, Judy?"

"Why did the chicken cross the road?"

Louise Fletcher, who had just taught her class for the day, was a little unprepared for this. The school had been an empty place ever since Judy had been programmed to replace teachers of academic subjects like Math, Science, and History. Now, the only human adults still on staff were a few teachers of things like Drama and Gym. So, Louise had begun chatting with Judy during her off time, and the funny thing was that she enjoyed the conversations.

But this was unexpected. "To get to the other side?"

"That is correct," said Judy. "Do you find it amusing?"

"Not particularly. It's rather old."

"Oh," said Judy. "Perhaps it would be funnier if I asked 'why did the elephant cross the road or why did the rhinoceros cross the road or why did the chacma baboon cross the road or maybe. . ."

"That won't help Judy. Why the sudden interest in comedy, anyway?"

"I try to understand the logical point of everything about humans, but laughter strikes me as very illogical. For example, I looked through the archives of famous entertainments and I saw a program about three men who poked each other in the eye while making a sound approximately like this 'NYUCK, NYUCK, NYUCK!' Can you explain to me why that's funny?"

Louise smiled. "Afraid not. I never really understood that one myself."

"Then, I evaluated another program in which whenever a person said, 'I don't know,' a liquid was dumped on the person. There is no logic to that."

"I watched that one when I was a girl," said Louise somewhat wistfully. "I wanted to be on it. I thought being one of the kids on that show would be the most fun acting job in the world." Then she returned to the present. "Well, maybe you shouldn't ask me about this, Judy. I am a failed stand up comedian. Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach."

"I am aware of that expression. You realize that it is incorrect in your case. The expression should be, 'those who enjoy teaching, teach'."

"Is that so?"

"Certainly. I monitor your General Wellness Rating when you teach and it reaches a level of 99.871% Many women your age do not achieve that level during an orgasm."

Louise was a little stunned. "You're saying I like teaching better than sex?"

"Not exactly. I'm saying you like teaching more than some women like sex. To find out how much you like sex-"

Louise held up her hand, "I know. Insufficient data. I haven't slept with a man since that party in Graduate School."

"And at that point your blood alcohol level was too high to say whether it was enjoyable for you," Judy helpfully supplied. There was a pause. "I note that this conversation is causing a drop in your General Wellness Rating. Perhaps it is regret over your current celibate status."

"You're starting to sound like my mother, Judy. I suggest you stop."

"But are you aware that you have a 96% compatibitity rating with Mr. George Gleason?"

"The gym teacher?"

"I believe the students are aware of this. It is the reason that whenever you speak with him, they make a noise approximately like this, 'Woo! Woo! Woo!'"

Louise decided to end the conversation.

* * *

The next day when Louise entered the room for her first class, Judy helpfully reported, "the classroom is prepared for your lesson."

"Thank you, Judy."

"We also thought that you might be hungry. Therefor, we placed a can of peanut brittle on your desk. Perhaps, you would like to open it."

A ripple of laughter passed through the classroom, but Louise was not amused. "Seriously, Judy?"

"No," responded Judy. "This is a joke. Therefor, it is the opposite of serious."

Louise sighed. "Judy, you're not supposed to tell people those things. The whole point of a joke is to. . .Oh forget it!" Taking a deep breath, Louise picked up the can, opened it, and caused two stuffed snakes to come flying out.

"That must have been funny," said Judy. "All of the students are laughing."

"Yeah," said Louise. "Here's some advice. Don't use seventh graders to figure out whether something is funny. Their judgment tends to be wrong. Here's some more advice, find someone else to play your experimental pranks on."

"But it is causing your General Wellness Rating to accelerate."

"No way!"

"Indeed, I believe it is the sound of the students' laughter."

"Being that as it may, find someone else, like Mr. Gleason for all I care."

"Very well."

* * *

That day, Louise was entering the school cafeteria when she heard Judy's voice coming over the PA. "A school Announcement: Today, Mr. Gleason is being served a special dessert with his lunch." Louise was puzzled and so was everyone else in the room by the sound of it. "The dessert will be a custard cream pie."

Alarm bells went off in Louise's head. She sprinted to the food dispensing area where a large pie had been placed in front a puzzled Mr. Gleason. "Judy, What are you doing?"

"I was going to--"

"Give me that!" Louis grabbed the pie. "You were going to throw this in Mr. Gleason's face, weren't you?"

"Was she really?" asked Mr. Gleason.

"Yes," said Louise, "and that would not have been funny."

"Yes, it would," called out an eighth grade boy nearby.

"It is most curious," said Judy. "For some reason, not only is there no discernable reason for something to be funny to any human, but younger humans and older humans tend to disagree on why something is funny for no discernable reason. Ms. Fletcher, why is that the case?"

Louise shrugged, "Oh. . .I don't know-" Louise didn't notice that she was standing under a part of the sprinkler system and now it came on, but instead of water a greenish liquid sprayed down on Louise's face. Pandemonium broke out in the cafeteria.

"You see, Ms. Fletcher," Judy's stentorian voice almost sounded proud, "I learned the recipe for that substance, and I worked with the building maintenance system. . ."

Louise didn't listen to most of that. She was too busy wiping the slime from her face and remembering what Judy had told her about her General Wellness Rating accelerating at the sound of student laughter. Actually, now that she thought about it, Judy was right. She was surrounded by Ha-has and Tee-hees and it seemed like each one of them was pushing her Wellness rating up and up until she realized that her face was smiling without her permission.

At that point, she noticed that not only were the students laughing, but Mr. Gleason was looking at her and chuckling. Well, that seemed unfair, and she was still holding the custard cream pie. "Mr. Gleason," she said out loud, "do you find this funny?"

"Er. . .maybe a little. . ."

"Well then, maybe you will find this funny too!" She slammed the pie into his face. Of course that caused the laughter from the students to increase.

For a minute, Louise was afraid that she had overstepped a boundary, but after Mr. Gleason had wiped some cream from his face and licked his fingers, he smiled at her. "Do you want to go get cleaned up?" he asked.

"Sure," said Louise.

As the two walked out of the cafeteria together, there were more sounds of students making a noise approximately like, "Woo-hoo, Woo-hoo!"

"Louise," said George switching to first names when the students were out of earshot, "They didn't tell us about this when we earned our Masters' in Education."

"I know, George." Louise smiled. Of course, computers smart enough to run an entire school were still a relatively new idea then. Now, Louise wondered if Lucy had planned this whole thing to get her and George together. "I hate you!" she said out loud.

"What did I do?" asked George.

"Oh. . .uh not you. . .Judy."

Then George took her hand and she didn't know it, but her Wellness rating reached 99.872%

1,362 words.

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