"Has anyone ever seen the Simpsons episode where Homer and Lisa spend time in something called a float tank?"
A few heads nod slowly. "Is that the one where Lisa really trips out," one student asks, "and sees all these weird colors and lights?"
"Yeah, that one," I say.
"I don't watch TV," another student says.
"Hey, that's good," I say. "But anyway, flotation is this thing where you lay down in this box-like thing filled with salt water. There's no light, so it's completely dark in there, and there's no sound, so you can't hear anything. It's really cool."
A few kids seem to understand, but most wonder what I'm getting at. It's a few minutes before the bell, and I like to make small talk. Everyone seems to be paying attention.
"Well," I say, "last night I spent an hour in one of those tanks. Ever since I saw that Simpons episode, I wanted to try, and so last night I did. An hour of floating in complete darkness."
"I have a question," one kid asks. He's a kid who is rarely interested in anything I talk about.
"Sure," I say. Maybe he's intrigued. Maybe I'm finally connecting.
"Do you have any friends?"
The whole class laughs.
"I mean, shit," he continues. "You wouldn't catch me spending an hour in a tank like that. But I guess that's because I have friends."
The laughter continues. I join in. "Maybe you're right," I say. "Maybe I just don't have any friends."