The Delights Of Tormenting Your Carpool Victims.
By Tom Danehy
I'M A DAD. I drive carpool. If this were Jeopardy, that would be the answer, and the question would be, "How does one put 80,000 miles on a Honda in less than four years?"
Two or three times a week each, I take my son to one school and my daughter to another. It's cool. I get to stack books and newspapers in one corner of the back seat, squeeze three or four kids in, yell at them to buckle up, and then drive the same boring route I've driven eight billion times. There are benefits, however. I get to use the time to humiliate my kids in front of their friends. And their friends in front of my kids.
There's this one girl in particular, my daughter Darlene's friend Courtney, whom I take particular delight in tormenting. The poor kid has target written all over her. Nice kid, takes honors classes with Darlene, plays softball, band drum major, and a vegetarian. I could drive her to school in Pakistan and not run out of material.
I spent a year dogging her for her vegetarianism. She was in danger of getting a "B" in this one class; I told her that pork chops increased brain activity. It's always worked that way for me. Whenever I eat pork chops, I automatically start thinking more, although it's mostly about bacon.
Courtney has stuck with it so far. I clipped out an article about how the dude who was the editor of Vegetarian Times magazine went back to eating meat, saying, "Twenty years of tofu is an awful long time."
Hey, 20 seconds of tofu is an eternity.
She even convinced me to try vegetarianism, claiming that just a couple weeks away from meat would change my life. It did. It made me think about adding dog and cat to my normal diet of beef, pork, turkey, fish and chicken. I went seven weeks and thought about fried chicken every single day.
This year Courtney is the assistant Band Nazi. That's one of the two people who stand up with their backs to the football crowd directing all the little Hitler Youth as to where to go when they play their show tunes. (Darlene is in her second year as part of the Hitler Youth, claiming that taking a full load of honors classes and playing four sports wasn't fulfilling enough for her.)
I told Courtney she should write a book about her experiences, maybe call it The Dos and Don'ts of "Ready Begin!"
Anyway, Courtney is very '90s, very hip and informed. Her mom, Chris, who apparently was very '70s, very hip and informed, has turned out a very intelligent child. That makes Courtney much more fun to pick on.
Courtney is especially strong on feminist issues. She hates it when I agree with her on most things. I told her I was a supporter of Title IX since Day One. I explained to her that when I was the editor of the Daily Wildcat on the UA campus, I used to get hate mail saying I was wasting space covering women's sports.
Fortunately for her, we don't agree on everything. Title IX is great. The use of the word "womyn" ain't gonna fly. Same for "herstory." Lighten up, Courtney. Get out of Antigone and go find a bookstore with a humor section.
Courtney and I had settled into a lull period recently until she hit me with a biggie. She and her fellow Band Nazi, a nice young lady named Megan Goudschal, think that the marching band should split the gate receipts with the football team. She even wrote a paper about it for a class.
Boy, I'll bet that paper made the rounds at the faculty lounge before being handed back. See, we're not just talking any football team; this is the Amphi By-God Panther football team. You don't mess with the Panthers; you don't mess with their gate receipts. This ain't Sabino, where they hold celebrity Booster Club golf tournaments and raise a hundred grand. This is Amphi, where they hold let's-wash-some-cars-so-we-can-all-have-matching-jerseys fundraisers.
She told me this idea one day when we were on the way to school. I immediately pulled over and asked her if she had climbed Mount Everest lately. She asked why and I told her she was displaying classic symptoms of hypoxia, a temporary delusional state caused by a deficiency of oxygen in the system.
(Yeah, I read Into Thin Air. So what? I knew that word before I read the book, mostly because I'd read the article in Outside on which the book was based.)
She was serious, though. She said the band works just as hard as the football team does to get ready for Friday nights; they should share in the financial rewards (to help defray the costs of traveling to band competitions and the like).
I listened to her argument, then told her she was nuts. I knew I shouldn't have said that, since she was sitting directly behind me and I couldn't see her in the mirror. I suddenly flashed on Leon Trotsky taking a pickax in the back of the skull. I decided to take a different approach.
I said that band is cool and I know everybody works hard. They're out there in the August heat and the December freeze. They do a great job. But make no mistake: Nobody pays to see the band march. Nobody. Ask your parents. They're there to see the game and they have the added bonus of having something to watch during the 20 minutes between the second and third quarters.
She disagreed, but I pressed on. The only way people would show up on a Friday night to watch bands is if the two schools' bands were fighting. Now that would be cool. I can hear the announcer:
"The Dorados' drum line is charging up the middle, but the Panthers are countering with a flanking movement by the horn section. It's a titanic clash. Clarinets and body parts are flying everywhere. Oh, the humanity."
Now that I'd pay to see. Heck, the football team would pay to see that. But I'd insist that my daughter go into battle with a full flute and not just a piccolo.
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