My fourth-grade reading buddy is one of my favorite people in the world. He's a pudgy kid with a raspy drawl, a fondness for sprawling on the ground, and an attitude that one of the 826DC employees once described as "doesn't give a [redacted]." He's insanely smart and a voracious reader, but he also comes off as a totally normal fourth grader from Columbia Heights whose main interests are football and video games. The way that this manifests itself is that he'll read a rhetorical question in a book, such as "Kathy thinks you're the stupidest person she doesn't know. What do you think of that?"* and mutter, "I'll climb inside the book and beat her up. That's what I think."

I've taken to documenting some of our more quotable conversations on the Facebook, and quite honestly, they're ridiculous enough that I can see where people might think that I'm actually trying to get him to say things that are crazy. But I'm not. As you can see from the example below, I probably couldn't even imagine some of these conversations on my own.

(I put his real name on Facebook, where I have at least a modicum of control over who sees what I write, but this is the Internet, wild and free. So I'll call him Tyrell.)

Saturday, 10:45 AM

TYRELL: You know the basketball player Metta World Peace?


TYRELL: What does Metta mean?

HILLARY (inwardly): Oh God.

HILLARY (outwardly): means, like...when you're talking about the thing you're talking about. Like if you had a book and it was about books.

(Tyrell, justifiably, looks somewhat dubious.)

It's you know what a theory is? 


HILLARY: Okay. Do you...know what a hypothesis is? 

TYRELL: Yeah. 

HILLARY: Okay. So let's say you have a hypothesis. And your hypothesis is that most hypotheses that people make are about science.

TYRELL: Which is probably true. 

HILLARY: Yeah, probably. Anyway, that's meta. That's a meta-hypothesis, I guess. 

 (Tyrell's eyes light up)

TYRELL: So it's something ABOUT something! 

HILLARY: Yes. I think that's close enough. 

A week later, in our follow-up discussion, he suggested that another example would be "if the New York Jets MADE a jet." It's unclear if he was talking about a football formation or airline manufacturing (I think that the first would qualify as meta and the second wouldn't?) (who cares that's awesome). 

*five points if you can name that book