Last Tuesday was a very eventful day for me, because I witnessed something that pertains to the First Amendment and Freedom of Expression, and so forth, something that could rock the Constitution at its very foundation. But even more importantly, I saw a Bob’s Big Boy statue plummet to the earth from an airplane.
This was apparently in honor of Elvis Presley’s 56th birthday. Mark Thompson and Brian Phelps, from KLOS’ popular “Mark and Brian Show,” were at Skylark Airport to drop a Big Boy statue dressed as The King out of a plane. He had a parachute, of course.
I found out that this was going on the day before, and I really wanted to go, but there was one minor problem. School.
The obvious solution, of course, was to ditch. Everyone else ditches all the time, but I never had, and plus, I really needed to go to my first two classes. Besides, I didn’t know HOW to ditch.
Or so I thought. As it turns out, all I had to do was follow this simple one-step process:
1. Walk out the gate.
For some reason, I thought it would be much harder than this. I just naturally assumed that ditching school would involve deception and sneaking around and wearing dark clothing and, perhaps, gunfire, but it didn’t. I just walked out.
(Before you get upset over my juvenile delinquency — I know a lot of you look up to me — I think I should tell you that they want us to ditch. The fewer kids they have to take care of, the more they can concentrate on organizing faculty luncheons.)
Anyway, I drove to the airport and saw, by my count, A MILLION other people who should have been in school. I guess ditching isn’t really that hard after all.
Just after I got there and pushed my way to the front, pretending to be a journalist, Lucky Butt came out, much to the surprise and enjoyment of the crowd. Lucky Butt is a man whose rear end has some kind of magical charm, so he displays it for everyone to see whenever something big is about to happen, such as building a shopping center or dropping a statue out of an airplane, but I guess you knew that, since you were there. EVERYONE was there. Don’t try to tell me you weren’t there, because you were. You probably had some young children who kept running across the runway, and you probably had a camera so you could take detailed pictures of a bunch of people crowding around what may well have been Mark and Brian, and you were probably smoking right in my face. Admit it. You were there. Your high school-aged kids were probably there, too.
So they dropped Elvis-Bob out, and everything was fine, and I got back to school just as lunch was starting. I went to the snack bar to buy what passes for food, and that’s where I saw the aforementioned First Amendment violation. There was this sophomore standing there whose T-shirt read “Kick Some Butt.” I’m not even editing that for you sensitive-eyed readers. That’s exactly what it said.
One of the campus aide persons, whose name I think is Bubba, or at least it should be, didn’t think this slogan was appropriate, however, so he made the poor sophomore take it off and put it back on inside-out so that no one could read it. I guess I don’t really care about the First Amendment thing (I just put that in the first paragraph so you’d keep reading), but there are two things about this T-shirt incident that I find silly.
1. The guy had to take it off and put it back on inside-out RIGHT THERE in the snack bar line. I wonder which is more “obscene” — the word “butt,” or a shirtless young man standing in the middle of a high school quad. (I checked, by the way, and being without a shirt on campus is against the rules, unless you’re in a locker room, which this guy was not. If Bubba had made him walk over to the locker room, though, there was a chance that some more students’ minds may have been polluted by the shirt on the way there, and they might have grown up to become mass murders or high school vice-principals or politicians or something horrid like that. So I guess Bubba did what was in everyone’s best interest. Way to go, Bubba!)
2. It’s rather ironic that less than two miles away, half the school was watching a man called Lucky Butt moon a crowd of Mark and Brian fans and no one seemed to care, nor will any of those students be punished for ditching school, but back at good ol’ Elsinore High, a student was being harassed for having a shirt that said “butt.” Maybe he should have ditched, like the rest of us. It’s not very hard, and no one ever gets in trouble for it.
Making fun of the school for contradictory behavior never lost its appeal for me, although I can see now that it was like shooting fish in a barrel. I would almost literally squeal with delight everytime I found some new thing to rip on -- and I spent a lot of my time looking. You'd think I'd have been an extremely unhappy teen, what with all the cynicism that comes across sometimes, but I really wasn't. Maybe that's why -- maybe being bitter in the column was a release that kept me from being bitter in real life.
"The Mark and Brian Show" was quite the thing in Southern California back in the day. They're still on (as of 1999), and in fact celebrated 10 years on the air in September 1997. I don't know how big they are now, but in 1990 -- hoo, boy! Naturally, the city of Lake Elsinore was simply agog over the prospect of Mark and Brian coming to town.
And why did they come to town? Well, despite its waning popularity in other areas, Lake Elsinore has always been a haven for skydivers. Skylark Airport, mentioned in the column, is used almost exclusively for that purpose. There is a lot of empty land surrounding the lake, which makes for a good place to land. In its hey-day, Lake Elsinore had people coming from miles around to sky dive. Johnny Carson even came once, and his sky-diving was filmed and shown on "The Tonight Show." So in Southern California, if you want to sky dive, Lake Elsinore is still sort of the place to do it. Also, if you want an extremely unattractive hooker, we recommend the Lake Elsinore downtown area for that kind of thing as well.
You would think that after admitting to ditching school right here in black and white, the attendance office at Elsinore High School would have checked my attendance for third and fourth periods on January 8 and confirm that yes, in fact, I did ditch school. But they didn't. I even wrote a very similar editorial in the school paper, and they still didn't do anything. Furthermore -- I swear this is true -- my counselor put this column up on the office bulletin board THREE FEET from the door to the attendance office, and still no one did anything. I think this pretty much confirms that no one cared, in those days, if you ditched school. That attitude served me well in college, too.