“School days, I believe, are the unhappiest in the whole span of human existence.” H. L. Mencken

So it’s off to school again. It’s our normal practice to laugh at you kids, Nelson Muntz-like, now that your all too brief summer respite is past. You know how you liked to stay up late on warm nights, gazing at starry skies and then sleeping til noon? Yeah, that’s history. Your days of speeding up and down the sidewalks on your bikes, scooters, big wheels and what have you, teasing the dogs and sideswiping old people have been brought to a screeching halt. So, come to think of it, HAH-hah!

Idler 242 B

That goes double for you, little Stevie from across the street. Did you ever ask a kid what grade he’s in and he answers by holding up the number of fingers? Well I happen to know the little twerp isn’t still in the first grade.

We have to admit they look cute in their school clothes, some in uniforms, backpacks bursting with all the supplies their parents scored in a last minute swing through Walmart and Target. Some of them seem happy to be back. We don’t want to sound sexist, but they’re probably girls. Girls like to talk and whisper and fool with each other’s hair and school is an ideal place to do that. Boys tend toward more physical activities like running around in circles and punching each other.

When we were in school in the Cretaceous period all the boys wanted to do (beyond, of course, the aforementioned running around and punching) was to flip baseball cards. Every kid had a stack of them about as thick as a deck of cards with a gumband (haha!) holding them together. One guy would flip and the other would have to match it heads or tails.

Whenever we personally got in trouble we’d pull out our one invincible card, the Ted Kluszewski. He was only a Pirate for two years, and in spite of his 6’2”, 225 pound frame, he didn’t hit many homers. But when he would swing and miss, something he made a habit of doing, he did it with such force that everyone swore he was going to screw himself into the ground. Grown men would gasp and ladies would swoon when Big Klu took one of his formidable, futile, Olympian cuts. And his card was money.

Meanwhile, the girls were, well we didn’t have any idea what the girls were doing. In those days, it was all about poodle skirts, you know with the big brass plated safety pin. And cat glasses, seemed like every other girl sported a pair of them with stars on the swooping ascending hinged parts. It made us glad we didn’t have to wear glasses which would have made all the running around and punching pretty difficult. Not impossible, though as we had a buddy, Larry, who kept them on with an elastic band and could not only run but bruise you up pretty good.

Another reason why we didn’t know what the girls were up to was the cootie factor. You know how in the later years of the cold war one of the Dr. Strangelove types came up with “MAD”, the theory of “Mutually Assured Destruction”? Well grade school had “MAC”, the theory that if you spent too much time with the girls or they with you, there would be a Mutually Assured exchange of Cooties.

The whole thing seemed so firmly fixed that it’s hard to imagine “gender identification” being the issue it’s become today. Maybe we were just backward and insensitive then. Maybe the girls really wanted to tear around the playground punching each other, and the boys wanted to style each other’s hair.

Somebody should take a survey. I’d ask little Stevie, but I’m pretty sure he’d give me the same answer he always does.

Comments – DickVerbo@hotmail.com Also, Like “The Idler” on Facebook

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