Back To School

September 5, 2003

I never thought I’d miss school, especially high school. When I was in high school a lot of adults, mostly friends of my parents, told me they wished they were my age. I thought they were kidding, and I thought at the time I’d be happy to trade places with them. I had to go to school for six hours carrying a lunch my mother made for me, and worry about whether I was going to get stuffed in a locker, so you can see why I thought adults – who had to pay bills, meet deadlines, worry about heart disease, spend at least forty hours a week stuffed into cubicles, and never get three months off during the summer – had it easy. Daydreaming about how great it is to be an adult is natural for kids, of course, while for adults daydreaming about how great it would be to be fifteen again, before the acne, is just embarrassing.

I never did get stuffed in a locker, by the way, although being a Boy Scout taught me to always be prepared, so just once I shut myself in a locker to see if I could get out again. Okay, it really had nothing to do with being prepared. The fact is I was meandering the halls when I was supposed to be in the school lunch room, eating either a peanut-butter and jelly sandwich or those small collections of gelatin, coloring, and insect parts hot-pressed into cafeteria food if I’d forgotten to bring something from home. Things have probably changed, but at that time wandering the halls when you were supposed to be in class or the cafeteria was a crime that ranked just between making your own CD with copyrighted material and murder. At the time I didn’t know that if I got caught all I had to say was, "I’m in the band." The school marching band was more important than the teachers, the administrators, and even the students. A friend of mine missed band practice – just practice! – one afternoon because he had to attend his grandfather’s funeral. The next day the band directors kept him in their office for an hour and a half lecturing him about priorities. The band was so important that it wouldn’t have surprised anyone if the basketball team wrote the clarinet players’ term papers for them, although this was never necessary.

But I digress. I shut myself in a locker because I heard footsteps, and they sounded like adult footsteps. I figured being shut in a locker was better than whatever punishment I’d face. This was right at the beginning of the school year, the time when I felt fresh and renewed, certain that this was the year I’d be a straight-A student and yet somehow also manage to be cool – two things which always eluded me. The fact that putting myself in a locker wasn’t a good way to achieve either goal didn’t occur to me, but before lunch I’d been to math class, which immediately dispelled any illusions that I could ever be a straight-A student. And farfetched as any possibility of achieving coolness might be, it went completely out the window at lunch when I slipped in somebody’s leftover applesauce. Sticking myself in a locker wasn’t going to make things worse – or so I thought. As soon as I got in and shut the door I panicked. I realized I had no way out, so I started knocking on the door and saying…well, I don’t remember what I said, and it doesn’t matter. If Shakespeare had been in that situation the best he could have managed would have been "I art verily the world’s biggest moron, so please mayst thou free me from this entrapment?" I decided to speak up because I figured whatever punishment was coming couldn’t be worse than being shut in a locker. Fortunately my savior was the school janitor, who we all called Coach Wimpy. We called him Wimpy because he looked like the character from Popeye cartoons, and Coach because all adult males in high school who weren’t the principal or one of the vice principals were automatically called "Coach". But I d igress. Coach Wimpy had two things in common with the school’s fluorescent lighting: he was part of the building, and he was completely nonjudgmental about everything that went on around him. He opened the locker door and I felt out and lay gasping on the floor like a man who’d been held under water. I tried to say "thank you," but Coach Wimpy was already pushing his giant mop down the hallway. With experiences like that, is it any wonder I miss high school?

Enjoy this week’s offerings.

1. Dogs are never permitted in the house. The dog stays outside in a specially built wooden compartment named, for very good reason, the dog house.

2. Okay, the dog can enter the house, but only for short visits or if his own house is under renovation.

3. Okay, the dog can stay in the house on a permanent basis, provided his dog house can be sold in a yard sale to a rookie dog owner.

4. Inside the house, the dog is not allowed to run free and is confined to a comfortable but secure metal cage.

5. Okay, the cage becomes part of a two-for-one deal along with the dog house in the yard sale, and the dog can go wherever the hell he pleases.

6. The dog is never allowed on the furniture.

7. Okay, the dog can get on the old furniture but not the new furniture.

8. Okay, the dog can get up on the new furniture until it looks like the old furniture and then we’ll sell the whole damn works and buy new furniture…upon which the dog will most definitely not be allowed.

9. The dog never sleeps on the bed. Period.

10. Okay, the dog can sleep at the foot of the bed.

11. Okay, the dog can sleep alongside you, but he’s not allowed under the covers.

12. Okay, the dog can sleep under the covers but not with his head on the pillow.

13. Okay, the dog can sleep alongside you under the covers with his head on the pillow, but if he snores he’s got to leave the room.

14. Okay, the dog can sleep and snore and have nightmares in bed, but he’s not to come in and sleep on the couch in the TV room, where I’m now sleeping. That’s just not fair.

15. The dog never gets listed on the census questionnaire as "primary resident," even if it’s true.

"The reason a dog has so many friends is that he wags his tail instead of his tongue."

"Don’t accept your dog’s admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful."
-Ann Landers

"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." 
-Will Rogers

"There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face." 
-Ben Williams

"A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself." 
-Josh Billings

"The average dog is a nicer person than the average person."
-Andrew A. Rooney

"We give dogs time we can spare, space we can spare and love we can spare. And in return, dogs give us their all. It’s the best deal man has ever made."

"Dogs love their friends and bite their enemies, quite unlike people, who are incapable of pure love and always have to mix love and hate." 
-Sigmund Freud

"If I have any beliefs about immortality, it is that certain dogs I have known will go to heaven, and very, very few persons." 
-James Thurber

"I wonder what goes through his mind when he sees us peeing in his water bowl."
-Penny Ward Moser

"A dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance, and to turn around three times before lying down." 
-Robert Benchley

"I wonder if other dogs think poodles are members of a weird religious cult." 
-Rita Rudner

"Dogs need to sniff the ground; it’s how they keep abreast of current events.The ground is a giant dog newspaper, containing all kinds of late-breaking dog news items, which, if they are especially urgent, are often continued in the next yard." 
-Dave Barry

"Anybody who doesn’t know what soap tastes like never washed a dog."
-Franklin P. Jones

"My dog is worried about the economy because Alpo is up to $3.00 a can. That’s almost $21.00 in dog money."
– Joe Weinstein

"Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend; inside of a dog it’s too dark to read." 
-Groucho Marx

"Ever consider what they must think of us? I mean, here we come back from a grocery store with the most amazing haul – chicken, pork, half a cow. They must think we’re the greatest hunters on earth!"
-Anne Tyler

"Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea."
-Robert A. Heinlein

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