May 2001


The kids’ Kaleidoscope class has been busy once again. Every other year, the school buys a bunch of frogs and teaches the kaleidoscope class kids to dissect and this was the year. This year was made more notable by three things:

  1. The older kids actually got rats to dissect
  2. Erin is in Kaleidoscope this year and got to participate
  3. Two kids passed out – Whomp!

The dinner table conversation last night was not the most appetizing.

Actually, I was playing golf last night but we did talk about it the night before and some last night after I got back but that didn’t make it any more appetizing because both kids brought the body parts home in a bag. I can imagine the teacher wondering what to do with all the preserved body parts (probably characterized as ‘toxic waste’ by the school system) and hitting on the idea of turning them into souvenirs for the kids. If I were on the outside looking in, I would admire her creativity but as a man with dead body parts in my refrigerator, I’m not so charitable.

Erin had been really looking forward to it because that’s something that “big kids” do but her report was pretty simple and succinct:

“We found all the parts.”

Somehow I had suspected more than that. She did get her bag and show me all the parts like the liver, stomach, tongue, etc. It’s been a long time since I dissected anything and my queasiness threshold is not what it once was. I wound up not eating any dinner.

Evan, on the other hand, was downright excited. Melissa had been to school to help on both days (and to take pictures – of the kids, not the frog parts). She reports that both kids did well but that Evan was really into it (so to speak). His teacher reports (in between Pepto Bismol tablets) that Evan has the makings of a surgeon. I wasn’t there but wish I had been because his teacher reports that two kids passed out. It must have been intense. I think that part of it is that the rats, after sitting in their preservative for so long, had turned a yellowish color. Also, their bodies had been injected with some sort of dye to make the blood vessels more visible but all that color was too much for some. Unlike the frogs which were pretty much just gray and green like you’d expect. So there they were, two kids down and several others turning green and Evan whittling away. Evan’s group it seems was pretty squeamish and they all adopted as much of a hands-off attitude as possible except for Evan who shunned the rubber gloves because they decreased his dexterity and was therefore in up to his wrists. He enthusiastically reported on all body parts and how difficult some of them were to extract. Again, my appetite took a nosedive. Indeed, it’s taking nosedive now too.

He then asks:

“How much money do doctors make?”

Ding! Time for a parental career advice moment!

“Lots and lots of money.”

He smiled.

With his artistic abilities coupled with these new found skills, I was thinking “Oh yeah! House on the golf course, baby!” Cha Ching! Well, he’s only 11 – we’ll see.

Erin was a trooper too but she was apparently partnered with like-minded kids and they all contributed equally. Even she drew the line though at bringing the body bag to the dinner table. She just about lost her macaroni and cheese when Evan brought out the rat-in-a-bag. In some ways, she was more business-like about the whole thing. The job was done, she and her team got good marks for it and it was over. She remembered quite a few details though; how many of the frogs in her class were males, how many females, which groups couldn’t find certain organs and ideas about why, what some of the stomachs contained. Evan’s remembrances centered around his revelations at understanding how things worked.

Two years ago, Evan had his first go at the dissection thing and, being a kid, wanted to give the poor creature a proper burial. Since they are preserved, burial doesn’t quite go the same way that burials normally go and he wound up digging it up every few days to check on its ‘progress’. It took a long time. It may still be there for all I know.

So now, the question is: How do we encourage our children’s enthusiasm for learning and at the same time get those dead animals out of our house? I could use some advice here.

Advertisements

It’s been a very busy week. It seems that the dissection of small animals was not interesting only to me and other parents. The Broken Arrow Ledger (circulation in the dozens) sent out a photographer to chronicle the event. My own little darlings were, sadly, not featured nor quoted but it was a good front page article nonetheless. It was apparently the most exciting to happen in Broken Arrow that day. I’m not surprised. It’s not uncommon to have a photo on the front page with a caption like:

“New Right Turn Lane”

Word on the street is that squids will be dissected next. It was news to me that squids had any moving parts at all that would be discernable to elementary school students. Perhaps that will be the whole point of the exercise; to illustrate that sometimes, jelly just moves by magic.

The third Boy Scout campout has come and gone and is notable only in that Evan went and I didn’t. The big week-long summer camp for all boy scouts is coming up in June and homesickness is always a big problem with the younger ones. As a test, we sent Evan out without yours truly to see how he handled it. It seems he handled it fine. Melissa always packs plenty of extra clothes and underwear and this time, like all other times, it all came back neatly folded and still unused. This comes as no surprise to me; Mel always grills me when we get back as to whether I made Evan change his underwear and my answer is always the same:

“Did I What?”

Note to all women: if you want us to enforce the changing of underwear, come out and say it; don’t ask leading, accusatory questions after the fact. No good can come from this. Perhaps more good than going without a change of underwear for several days, but I digress.

They had a mission this time: to prepare the scout camp for the upcoming week-long hoop-de-do so they were put to work on Saturday morning and allowed to run wild on Saturday afternoon. It was a great warm day; just right for swimming. Unfortunately, nobody had remembered to bring swim trunks. No matter, they all took to the water in their clothes. When chafing discomfort drove them from the water, they took to the canoes. There were quite a few other activities but apparently, Evan stayed in the water most of the time. Surprising, since there was some riflery to be had but that involved waiting for a turn and that’s hard for little boys. I guess it was just easier to stay in the lake splashing.

This week, I got to sit on a “board of review” for a kid who is going to be promoted from first class scout to the next rank “Star”. It was just like when I sat for my oral exam in graduate school except I was on the other side of the table. Just for grins, I asked:

“What’s the charge to mass ratio of the electron?”

Thankfully, he took it in the spirit it was intended. In other words, he didn’t give me that “what a geek!” look.

The paintball experience has been a watershed event in the lives of all that participated. Evan gathered all his money, birthday and otherwise, and invested in his own gun. It came late last week and great was the rejoicing. Melissa was placed in the unenviable (for a woman) position of going to a paintball store and having the CO2 bottle filled. I erected a sheet of old particle board in the back yard and he blasted away at it until it was completely covered in colored paint, all the while concentrating intensely, noting things like accuracy, precision and such. Pretty scary actually.

The poor dog was horrified; I knew her previous owner and as far as I know, she has never been mistreated or had a gun fired at her, but she’s pretty smart and so was hiding in one corner of the yard. The poor thing was huddled miserably in the corner shivering with her nose shoved into the corner making herself as small a target as possible. This didn’t last long, we had to take off to drop Evan off on his campout. Let the paintball games begin.

Another biggie was the passing of the old minivan. As you recall, we actually bought a newer one around Easter and it has taken me this long to talk anybody into buying the old one. Here’s a used car hint: get rid of your cars before they turn 100,000; that’s a huge mental thing for most people. All most people think is: “Dad Gum! That car has over 100,000 miles on it.” The lady who bought it actually paid me in cash. $2000 in a big wad of $100 bills. She brought along a blank-faced teen-aged girl to drive her other car back. So, there we were, standing by a parked car at about 10:00 at night, in the dark, counting out $100 bills, with a young girl standing there in a halter top waiting. I’m so glad no police officers happened to cruise by. Come to think of it, I’m glad none of our friends happened to cruise by either. Anyway, now I’ve got my space back in the garage. WOO HOO!

As if that weren’t enough, the Spanish club took a trip to a local Mexican restaurant. This one is unique in our area in that it actually employs Mexican people. The requirement: the kids had to order in Spanish. Evan’s educational experience is, apparently, not quite what it should be; he ordered water and tortillas. You would think that, even though “Taco” is probably not real Spanish, he at least would have tried to fake it. Or maybe tried to order “Pollo Strips”. I guess not.

This time of year, things loosen up quite a bit at school and so they have “Wacky Week”. Monday was “twinkie day” in which the kids were encouraged to dress alike. Leave it to a bunch of girls to turn a simple thing like that into a vast fashion production. Deals were made, promises were broken, misunderstanding abounded and great was the crying and gnashing of teeth. By the time Sunday night had rolled around, Erin and Melissa both had been on the phone to at least five other little girls and their mothers trying to coordinate all this and make sure that the proper attire was either worn (or in some cases bought.) And there, my friends, you have reason #98 why it is great to be a guy. (If you’d like the complete list, email me. Hint: you’ll see hints of two other reasons in the first part of this message: they involve underwear and guns.) Thursday was “wacky hat” day. That was interesting.

But the biggest event of the entire week was fifth grade day. The whole day Thursday was devoted to letting the fifth graders have fun. It seems to be a sort of “graduation” for them. Evan is not too thrilled about moving on to middle school and with good reason; now they are kings of the hill. They are the oldest, the most experienced, and get to do the funnest stuff. Who would want to move on and be at the bottom of the heap again? Add to that the prospect of puberty and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. Anyway, there is a park within walking distance of the school so they all walked over there where I and many other parents were waiting with hot dogs on the grill. One mom had…are you ready?…18 rolls of film. My hat’s off – I’m not the camera geek any more. She came over to me and said “do you know how to get my camera to work?” How ironic that at a school event, she hadn’t done her homework. They ate hot dogs, played games, and went generally wild and had a great time. Someone had arranged for a schmaltzy “memory” video to be made which was dutifully watched. I didn’t even see Evan all that much; he was too busy going wild. His teacher finally rounded up him and others in his class for pictures. Boy, it’s tough to corral a bunch of fifth graders for more than three minutes. Especially, when they’ve all just had a can of soda.

They had a talent show of their own which was actually more like the old Gong Show. I videotaped it; it’s not too bad. Copies are available for all interested parties (yeah, I know … just be nice.) I have been asked to do some weird things before but, to support this show, I was asked to search the Internet for a version of La Cucaracha. I defy you to top that one. Surprise! I found about seven different versions. Why? Evan and his buddies did a dance to it. One girl did a jazzy dance number with a strobe light; I overheard one of the dads whispering to the other “I saw a show like this once…at a batchelor party.” The other ageed: “Yeah, I saw one too in Bangkok recently.”

Evan’s teacher is moving away soon so there a few sentimental moments centered around that. But her move is more significant in that she actually owned the class guinea pig. She doesn’t want to take it with her so guess who gets to adopt it? Ding! You guessed it. Evan will share the honors with Erin and the creature will have a new home soon. We’ve taken care of it several times over the weekends and it seem to be the perfect pet; he doesn’t actually do anything. He just sits there. It’s like a stuffed animal that poops. The dog will have to be given some instruction regarding the new pet (See Dixie? Don’t eat!) but other than that, things should be unchanged. The kids are quite excited.

Then there’s my weekly golf game! But, I’m running a little long here. Perhaps another time. You must be nearly asleep now anyway.

I imagine it all began back in the 1970’s. Tulsa and other cities began to have festivals in the spring and Broken Arrow wanted to get into the act too. The city council had meetings to ask the question: “What do we call our festival?” In a sadly uncreative moment they began to throw out ideas: “Redneck Days”….”Goat Roper Days”…”Yahoo Fest”. Finally, they chose the lesser of the evils that were discussed and decided on “Rooster Days” and like many traditions (the British royal family system comes to mind) they stuck with it in spite of all common sense.

And thus was Rooster Days born.

Actually, the real story (as reported by the crack news team – both of them – at the Broken Arrow Ledger – “Circulation in the Dozens”) is that back in the 30’s, springtime was the time that, as the weather got warmer, farmers began to decide it was time to thin out the roosters from their chicken houses since fertilized eggs spoil faster than unfertilized ones. When a large number of such birds flood the market, the price goes down so they just decide to make a big fried chicken feast and dance out of it.

Whatever its origins, they now have a parade in mid May along with a squalid little arts and crafts fair. This year, Erin’s dance class marched in the aforementioned parade so we went along to watch and cheer. It turned out to be an extremely long parade with a huge number of groups participating. I went with a bad attitude but left feeling pretty upbeat as you will see.

Broken Arrow has about three middle schools, a couple of intermediate schools, and a humungous high school; each of which (except the high school) has a band for each grade. Every one of them marched in the Rooster Days Parade. If you didn’t see some kid you knew in one of the bands, you weren’t looking closely enough. The Broken Arrow Pride (i.e., the high school band) led off the parade as they do in most parades and the musicians had the look of kids who were about three weeks from graduation. They still managed to play pretty well though.

If there is anything more embarrassing than having a parade called the “Rooster Day” parade, it would be having a beauty contest in which you crown a “Miss Chick”. All the Miss Chick contestants rode in late-50’s model convertible Thunderbirds which were very cool in and of themselves. True, the young ladies in the cars were very attractive also but I question the motives of anybody who would attempt to win the title of “Miss Chick”. Come on!

The Shriners were out in full force. They drove a fleet of Harley Davidson motorcycles in formation, a fleet of go karts (yep, in formation again), a series of strange looking cars that did wheelies in circles, and (I swear by all I know that I am not making this one up!) two toilets. Yes, two commodes with tiny wheels that had a scooter-like handlebar which were motoring up and down the street at a pretty impressive speed – for toilets that is. Even Evan was moved to say:

Well, there’s something you don’t see every day.”

Those shriners.

Say what you will, but those guys looked like they were having the time of their lives and I’ll bet they were. And when you think about it, wouldn’t it be kind of cool to ride in that wheelie car? I’d take my car-sick pills first but I’d like a ride. One old restored car actually contained their leader – The Grand Potentate! Can you believe it? I didn’t think that was actually a real word. I thought it was one of those words we use just for humor or satire. Well, there it is: the real thing. I’ve seen him myself now.

My observation is that if you live in Broken Arrow and have one of the following: a convertible, a classic car, vanity license plates, or a Ford Mustang, you can get a spot in the Rooster Days parade toting a beauty contestant, city official, local weatherman, dance troop, or cub scout pack. Not that that’s a bad thing.

Wal-Mart was there. They brought a trailer load of little kids who distinguished themselves by being the only parade float with real roosters on board. And yes, there were several people behind the float pushing shopping carts. Not the ones with the floppy wheels either. They also drove a semi festooned with fake roosters. I thought they were a nice touch considering the challenges of decorating a semi but I will agree it’s not the sort of thing you’d see on Home & Garden TV.

Erin’s little dance troop was pretty tired by the time they got down to where we were. The weather was glorious; sunny and cool, but if you’re marching, it gets pretty hot. One group of dog enthusiasts were carrying some of the canines who had apparently mutinied early on. One kid tried to peel off and stay with her parents but she was hustled back in line. Actually there were several deserters from various marching/walking groups. Kids would dash off into the sidelines to hug a parent or grandparent and then dash back into position. That’s what’s great about these small town parades.

Here’s an unfortunate Broken Arrow priority: cheerleading. Apparently, most of the community feels that cheerleading is one of the highest callings a young girl can answer to. How unfortunate then that I feel it is one of worst, time-wasting things known to mankind with no redeeming social value whatever. I just keep my mouth shut. But, as a result, there are cheerleading groups for all ages and every one of them marched, jumped, and generally spazzed in the parade. Some of them rode in the convertibles. Others rode (and this is really cool) on a hook and ladder fire truck. Those with fears of heights need not apply.

Having said all these nasty things, I have to say that I had a really good time. If this had been one of the big parades like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, for example, I would never have gone. I would never have bothered to travel, fight for a parking place, fight for a spot to watch the parade, or any of that. As it was, I parked right on Main Street, (in the shade, thank you very much) opened the back of the old minivan and watched the parade in cool, seated comfort. We parked in front of one of the old houses with the front porches which was occupied by the owners which just seems “right” somehow. They operate a guitar shop there so there was pickin’ and grinnin’ to be had. They were also kind enough to let us use their bathroom. I doubt any of those New Yorkers at the Big Parade would have been so accommodating.

Every kid who wanted to had the chance to ride in the parade. Even if it was just a hay wagon towed by a restored 1948 Farmall tractor and they had to share the float with a couple of goats. To a kid that was the last word in entertainment. They were free to dart from the parade to the sidelines for a quick hug from Grandma and then dart back to the floats. There were many, many cool old cars that made me want to have one myself. Until Saturday, I never had the slightest inclination to own a convertible 1957 Thunderbird. Melissa points out that they don’t actually come with the hot babes in them like in the parade. We saw lots of people we know and they saw us and a good time was had by all. What more could you want?

And if you think that a riding lawn mower pulling a little train of wagons (fixed up with cardboard and plywood to look like a little train) filled with waiving children is not worthy of your time, perhaps you should come see one first. Here’s a couple of tips though:

  1. If you’re an old fat guy in a drop-top Caddy, better have a beauty contestant in the car or a poster on your car; otherwise, people will think you just took a wrong turn and wound up in the parade by mistake.
  2. If you’re on a horse, you’ll be at the rear of the parade so as not to disrupt the marching of the bands in front of you. You will refrain from pooping on the pavement but your horse may not.
  3. When the street sweeper comes (after the horses – see item #2) the parade is over.
  4. If you’re Safari Joe (owner of the local wildlife park) and you bring a wolf on a leash and a baby goat on a leash nearby, you’re tempting fate. Maybe nothing will happen but think of the public relations nightmare if something does happen.

I like Safari Joe. Except that he is not an ugly man and all the women within earshot whisper things like “Whoa! He’s hot!” Therefore, I don’t like him much except that he drives a black Hummer. That’s so cool that he’s OK in my book now. In Evan’s book too. Evan and his buddies would like nothing more than to ride in the parade in Safari Joe’s black Humvee. Unless it might be to ride in the parade in a black hummer with a paintball gun popping all their enemies. Joe’s neighbors are a little uneasy too what with all the tigers and such next door to their subdivision. I’ll bet they don’t have any problems with squirrels or possums in their attics though. Still, they say things to the media about their uneasiness at “all them tigers over at the Estes place.” Did you ever see a young mountain lion? They have a look on their faces that says: “Should I shred this guy’s face? … Maybe next time.” Rule #1 about wild animals: don’t let’em get hungry. But…I digress

And so, there you are. I wish there were a parade like that every Saturday. I may take guitar lessons just so I can hang out with those guys on the front porch of the house on Main Street.

Cock-a-doodle-doo!

Another annual event came and went last night without much local fanfare but with much enjoyment: the school’s art show. Every year, the art teacher gathers up all the projects and displays them to the whole school. Parents are invited. Punch and cookies are provided.

Believe it or not, yours truly was featured this year. One of Evan’s assignments was to do a portrait so he did one of me. I remember the evening when it was due – I had to sit still for a really long time. Other than that I forgot about it; I seem to recall that we were hitting Napster pretty hard that night so I was thinking of other things. Imagine my surprise when I walked into the cafeteria to see the portrait staring back at me from the gallery-wall right by the door. The art teacher met us there and proceeded to embarrass both Evan and me with all sorts of attention and praise. I’m afraid I probably wasn’t all that gracious; I didn’t quite know what to say. Evan’s attitude was: “Hey, I just had a job to do man! No big deal!” As the evening wore on, we garnered even more attention and compliments. I was occasionally called upon to go stand beside the portrait for comparison.

I realize now just how flattering the whole thing was and I intend to tell Evan so. If I had any sense, I would have made a spectacle of it; why oh why did my parents teach me to be so modest? Sheesh! So, my 15 minutes of fame came and went without being fully taken advantage of.

It was nice to actually meet the art teacher. She is big buddies with the high-strung music teacher so I got to spend a little time with her too. She was remarkably un-wound last night; something that I thought couldn’t happen. I guess all her performances were over for the year so she felt she could just relax. Well, it’s about time! She was actually pretty civilized. There was a brief moment of panic that ensued involving a camera that wouldn’t take pictures but, thank goodness, there was a rocket scientist present and the issue was resolved. Lens cap off – camera functional – crisis averted! Apparently, that wasn’t covered in art school. It’s nice to make yourself useful once in awhile.

Evan was quite concerned with his creations; asking himself if the work looked good, if this picture showed proper perspective and other artsy issues. Erin was counting to see how many works she had hanging up and how many Evan had.

Keeping score.

Evan is like a Picasso – creating priceless art for art’s sake. Erin is like that guy on PBS with the afro; crank out an oil painting in 25 minutes and sell it for $30 before the paint dries.

Finally, all the kids had had enough culture for one evening and they all sneaked out the back door to the playground and that was that.

In response to some flattering comments, I’ve decided to let them go straight to my head and I’ve begun writing emails about even the most trivial events in our lives. I hope you’re happy with yourselves and the monster you’ve created. I’ve actually archived some of them. Alas, I’ve never really saved old emails until recently and the story of the farting horses is lost forever unless I recreate if from memory.

On another note: I’m worried about our dress code around here. Business casual, according to the TV, means wearing stuff like you’d wear to the golf course. In Oklahoma; however, it occasionally means (and I knew this would happen sooner or later) wearing overalls. I can just see the management directive now:

Since our friends in Tulsa obviously can’t avoid abusing the “business casual” concept, we will return to the suit/tie thing immediately.

Let’s hope for the best.

Evan’s birthday party was this weekend and he and a few of his buddies headed off to do some paintballing. Where? At Paint Ball Land; where else? Six 11 year olds shooting each other with gobs of paint that sometimes leave bruises. Can you imagine anything that young boys would enjoy more? (Well, maybe breaking glass with rocks, terrorizing small animals, burning something, or lighting farts. I haven’t seen those birthday party ideas on http://www.family.com yet.) This place is located in a place that involves that quintessential redneck phrase “turn off the paved road”. Even better than that; it’s at the far end of a trailer park. It is right in the cul-de-sac at the rear. (That’s French for “let me out of here!”). It must make for quite a summer evening to walk outside and listen to the chirping of crickets and the popping of air rifles in the nearby woods. It wasn’t the fanciest place in the world but the people were nice and had a sense of humor about their place. There was an air conditioning duct that had been jury-rigged with a cardboard box and duct tape; the owner had taken a marker and written on it:

Patent Pending – all rights reserved.

The “battlefield” consisted of a large field and a patch of woods that were littered with cable spools and milk crates to use as cover. Some of the nicer cable spools were put into service as tables. It looked, in many respects, like the proverbial dump.

I suppose my friends out in California are unaware that there can actually be a pastime that involves taking an actual gun and shooting actual projectiles at your friends but there it is. Not simply a pastime but one upon which millions are spent each year (to judge from the prices in the pro-shop anyway).

To say that all of them had a good time would be an understatement of gargantuan proportions. It was more than awesome (for them at least). As I drove up there, the conversations centered around their nervousness about the unknown: would the paintballs hurt when they hit? Opinions varied considerably. Most hearsay was gleaned from older brothers who couldn’t be trusted to provide any comforting thoughts. Several of them had apparently lost sleep the night before from being so excited about going. My own opinion is that all of them should have been lined up against the fence and popped in the butt right away just so they would know how it felt and then the anxiety would be over but the public relations problems with that are obvious. I would have volunteered; there are a couple of those boys who I have always thought could benefit from a good pop on the rear and it would have been really fun too.

They were outfitted with guns, protective gear, ammo and given a brief training. Then it was off to the woods for a real shooting war. I didn’t participate; my role was that of war correspondent – taking pictures that you will all get to see soon. My role soon changed to chairman of the ways and means committee as it became necessary to go throw more money at the proprietor to obtain more ammo. Altogether, about 1200 rounds were fired. Of those, probably six found their targets. Pretty sorry marksmanship I’d say but of course, I didn’t have anybody shooting at me so I can’t say what happens to your aim under those conditions.

Paintballs were fired, welts were raised, battle scars (bruises) were displayed, war stories were told, excuses for defeat were invented, lies were told, and testosterone filled the air. Thanks to yours truly, there was no profanity or spitting although if I had turned my back for even a moment, the story would have been different I’m sure.

They were actually mixed with another group so as to make a bigger game of it and that group actually included a mom and dad. All the boys with me were so excited that they all began requesting pictures when I got them developed. Even more amazing, the opposing team’s Dad, asked me the same thing. We agreed I would email them some; addresses were exchanged. When they all came back out of the woods, my party and the other family all seemed to be old friends; something about the battlefield builds camaraderie I guess. The Mom didn’t seem quite as into it as the rest (big surprise). She was at least polite though – I can’t say I would have behaved as well if the situation had been reversed and she had, for example, taken us all to a baby shower.

As I loaded the minivan with the hot, smelly boys, the word “awesome” filled the air and the excited chattering didn’t stop until we got home and even then, it only stopped long enough to cram cake into their mouths. It must; therefore, be considered a smashing success. A blast, so to speak. (you knew that was coming!)

I’m sure it will be the talk the elementary school today. One would hope so anyway. It was a quintessential win-win situation – they all had a good time and we didn’t have a house-full of little 11 year old boys. Everyone was happy.

Speaking of sports involving balls, I played golf this week and actually found two balls. I also found a pitching wedge. WOO HOO! I can easily imagine walking off and leaving one of my own clubs at some point so I couldn’t bear to keep it. We left it at the pro shop. I assume they have a ‘lost and found’. If not, then I guess that’s where rental clubs come from.

The secret to lowering my score was not to lose 10 balls (before I quit counting) during the game. I only lost two and one of those was obviously right there somewhere. Must have been a black hole lurking around somewhere because I know I saw it but when I got there, it wasn’t there. The biggest thrill for me was that I managed to use the same ball for the entire back nine! That’s quite an accomplishment for me.

Oh heavens! I forgot to let you know about the fifth grade musical! “What’s that?” you may well ask. Well, it involves the fifth graders and they sing and dance (as if you hadn’t figured it out already). It’s something the music teacher produces each year and it’s a big enough deal that they actually stage it at a school with a real stage and real seats. They even had a real light/sound guy. He was also the guy with the keys to the door so he was “da man”.

It was a big hit. Most parents will pay money to see their little darlings on stage in the spotlight and this night was no different. They really should consider reserved seating since competition for the first few rows was pretty keen. Normally, I might be well-mannered and offer my seat to some of the other moms but this time I showed no mercy. “Get back!” I said; waiving my tripod at them like a lance. I can never believe how some people will get to something like this late and then march up the the front and ask if these seats are taken. How stupid is that? I want to yell “Of course they’re taken! We’ve been here for 20 minutes and my brother in law had to go take a leak! GET HERE ON TIME AND STOP ASKING STUPID QUESTIONS! TO THE BACK ROW WITH THEE FOOL!” Good thing I’m not in charge or the world would be a much meaner place.

I suppose the music teacher takes this job on as an excuse to stress herself out just a little bit more. She cranked up the tension a couple of clicks on her barrettes and forged ahead. I swear, she always has a look on her face like that of a day-trading stock broker. I’ve never seen her smile a real smile; one that didn’t look fake. I spotted her at the grocery store the other day and she still had the same look about her. She’s never going to make it past age 40.

But, to the musical. It was one of those productions where the kids stand on risers and swing their arms, snap their fingers, and sing (sort of like The Pips used to do behind Gladys Knight) but, more than that, we were treated to frequent solos. I can’t imagine how those kids were able to step up to the mike and sing solo like that but many of them did and quite a few of them were kids that we had never imagined as the singing types. All the songs were fairly recent pop tunes and were very well received. Except that the music teacher would occasionally leave her “conductor’s” spot and walk up on the stage among them to address some perceived problems. Sort of like she did during rehearsals but since this was during the performance, you could hear parents grumbling under their breath “down in front, I’m not here to get video of your backside.” Or maybe it was just me.

Yes, I videotaped the whole thing. I was only following orders. One of the moms had already videotaped the dress rehearsal so I was not tapped to be the ‘official’ photographer. I will brag however that that mom’s own little girl specifically asked for a copy of mine since it was the “real” performance. Ha! They also borrowed mine to show to the classes at school during the ‘cast party’. There were many video cameras in use at the time but only one was on for the entire thing. I’m told that most others were pretty shaky as well; they looked as if the musical was videotaped from the seat of a four-wheeled drive vehicle.

Evan had thought all along that this was cool because, as the performance drew near, he and his buddies got to get out of class to rehearse. But after seeing the reaction of the audience and how grandma had come all the way from out of state to see him and how a large number of cast members and families all showed up for ice cream at Braum’s for a spontaneous cast party, he began to realize that there was more to it than just getting out of class. They all seemed to think so. For a brief moment, everybody was in a good mood at the same time, everybody was nice to everybody else, and there were no class distinctions. Everybody was a ‘cast member’ and everybody was pumped up with the positive energy of the performance. Maybe that’s what the music teacher had in mind.