Homework

May 11, 2001

Kids do the stupidest things. Holidays like Mother’s Day are needed because they give kids a chance to show their parents just how uninteresting their lives would be otherwise. For instance, four teenagers in Kentucky were ordered to read twelve classic books and turn in book reports every two weeks by a judge. If they fail to read the books and turn in the homework, they could be prosecuted of felony charges and face up to five years in prison, where they’ll have a lot of time to read. What did they do to deserve this punishment? One of them was voluntarily hit by a car that another one was driving, while the other two videotaped the event. Supposedly they were inspired to do this by television, specifically the show, "Home Videos Of People Being Hit By Cars". What books were they ordered to read? I have no idea, but if they’re so easily led, should they really even be reading books? If they read "A Tale of Two Cities", they might take up knitting and try to stir up a revolution, and if they read anything by Hemingway, they’re going to go out and buy a lot of guns and head for Africa.

What’s a classic book, anyway? Some people define classic books as anything that’s over a hundred years old, which means they might be able to get away with reading the works of the Marquis de Sade. Mark Twain defined a classic as "a book which people praise but don’t read," which means that any book they read will, by definition, not be a classic. On the other hand, my Uncle Rupert, who recently led an unsuccessful attempt to drive a fast food taco stand out of town because it was "foreign", said, "Reading rots the mind." So maybe that judge was on to something.

As a further side note, the judge also banned the boys from watching any television other than late night news programs, where they won’t see any stupid or criminal acts they might be tempted to imitate. Right.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


JOB OPENING POSITION: Mom

JOB DESCRIPTION: Long term team players needed for challenging permanent work in an often chaotic environment.Candidates must possess excellent communication and organizational skills and be willing to work various hours, which will include evenings and weekends and frequent 24 hour shifts on call. Some overnight travel required, including trips to primitive camping sites on rainy weekends and endless sports tournaments in faraway cities. Travel expenses not reimbursed. Extensive courier duties also required.

RESPONSIBILITIES: This is for the rest of your life."Must be willing to be hated at least temporarily, until someone needs $5 to go skating. Must be willing to bite tongue repeatedly.Also, must possess the physical stamina of a pack mule and be able to go from zero to 60 mph in three seconds flat in case, this time, the screams from the backyard are not someone just crying wolf. Must be willing to face stimulating technical challenges, such as small gadget repair,mysteriously sluggish toilets and stuck zippers. Must screen phone calls, maintain calendars and coordinate production of multiple homework projects. Must have ability to plan and organize social gatherings for clients of all ages and mental outlooks. Must be willing to be indispensable one minute, an embarrassment the next.Must handle assembly and product safety testing of a half million cheap, plastic toys and battery operated devices. Must always hope for the best but be prepared for the worst. Must assume final, complete accountability for the quality of the end product. Responsibilities also include floor maintenance and janitorial work throughout the facility.

POSSIBILITY FOR ADVANCEMENT AND PROMOTION: Virtually none. Your job is to remain in the same position for years, without complaining, constantly retraining and updating your skills, so that those in your charge can ultimately surpass you.

PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE: None required. On-the-job training offered on a continually exhausting basis.

WAGES AND COMPENSATION: You pay them, offering frequent raises and bonuses. A balloon payment is due when they turn 18 because of the assumption that college will help them become financially independent. When you die, you give them whatever is left. The oddest thing about this reverse-salary scheme is that you actually enjoy it and wish you could only do more.

BENEFITS: While no health or dental insurance, no pension, no tuition reimbursement, no paid holidays and no stock options are offered, job supplies limitless opportunities for personal growth and free hugs for life if you play your cards right.

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