Thursday, July 09, 2009

Hot Dogs, Pretzels, Beer and an Apple for the Teacher

Every early August when I was a kid, we'd, in the midst of our summers of doing absolutely jack-all other than being a kid, catch a glimpse of it.

A cold, wet, dark and ominous monster. Usually showed up in the paper, sometimes on TV, occasionally in a poorly printed sign taped to the inside of the stationers' store. Suddenly the escapist thrill of pooling six kid's Hot Wheels tracks together to tack down a REAL quarter mile down Church Street stopped like Twin Mill when it ran off the edge of the track right into and subsequently under Mr. Hamilton's LeSabre bias ply.

It was the beast that was the first "Back to School" advertising campaign.

The old man would catch it by the tail and lead it around the house. He made up a melody he chanted at the top of his lungs which is amazing since he seldom ever made up anything other than enough blame to go around. Ever the paradigm of fun, he'd chant "Back to School" with an enthusiasm he could only have developed while being beaten during Catechism classes. It drove me fucking insane and at first I'd cover my ears, so he shouted louder. Then I'd hide in my closet, so he'd find me. Then I went outside so he followed until the neighbors barbequeing next door gave him a look over cold beers that could only read "never come to a drinking establishment we frequent." He got that point and went back inside for a pilsner drunk solo.

Like I said, it was early August. He'd suggest at dinner that, in preparation for the blessed first week of September I should maybe crack my books now. Let's say, an hour of study every night in the first week of August, two hours a night the second week, three the third, four the fourth and so on. Like I said; ever the paradigm of fun. At first I looked at him funny and he'd go on to the disintegrating state of the world that was the nineteen seventies. Later in life when I developed the power of speech that was bleeped on commercial radio, I believe "are you out of your fucking mind?" was the response du jour. Ate a lot of August dinners in my room, I did.

Well, I'm his age now and its July. July. Ju-fucking-ly and we just read our first "Back to School" ad in the color circular and as much as I'd like to torture Generation echo boom x-y whatever the fuck they call themselves, I can't bring myself to break out into a few bars of "Most Wonderful Time of the Year." It's too early and you've got to wait at least until the first full week of August when even fourteen-somethings who have spent the post-solstice catching flies in their open mouths can palpably feel the fear of the oncoming school year.

Then, and only then, when they've come to the self realization that sensible shoes and scratchy cordouroys are just weeks away, do you pounce with a suggestion of an hour of study a night, then two hours and so forth.

Shit, if I sprung that idea now, in July, I'd suggest an hour of study a night, then two hours and sometime around October our twelve year old could go to college!

It was suggested that as ominous and foreboding as the back to school harbinger was for children, its even worse for the adults that teach them. Now I can accept this...up to a point. After all, yes, a lot of parents look at September as an opportunity to dump Pibbles and Bing-Bing into someone else's lap and let that someone swab their foreheads with damp cloths as they come out of the DT's of no more Cartoon Network at two with a big bag of Barbecue Lays. I get that. But only up to the point of when it was mentioned to me that in mid-July teachers are only seven weeks into vacation and have barely decompressed.

I reached back to my childhood for a familiar phrase to that: "Are you out of your fucking mind??"

Seven weeks into anything other than the day job and, excepting prison, I think I'd get up in the morning and piss myself with joy. Oh and it's only August and there's three weeks of Depends ahead of me? Give me a break you haven't decompressed. I'm decompressing getting into aircraft seating group Z, knowing I'm sitting next to a two hundred pound smoker from Tennessee who's going to hack up a lung in economy somewhere over the north Atlantic!

So who the hell knows how a "Back to School" ad is going to affect a teacher in early July if it pisses me off. Maybe they'll take it in stride as an example of our 24-7 lifestyle moving things ever faster. Maybe they'll understand that it's only a poor shit retailer trying to stir up any kind of excitement they can in the current Obamaconomy. Or maybe the ghost of my old man is stalking the upper hallways of their house yodeling at the top of his spectral lungs. In the case of the latter, they'd be welcome to come over and have a good stiff drink. I can exorcise that spirit.

Bunny on.


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