Suspension of Disbelief

Every summer about this time, the department stores begin having their “Back-to-School” sales, causing panicked students all over the country to run to their calendars and discover that they don’t know if school will be starting soon because they don’t know what the current date is because they haven’t had to write it in the upper right-hand corner of their paper for several weeks. While I hate to be like a department store and annoy the students around here with talk of school, there are a few things I wish to say about the school district and the people in charge therein.

Throughout my sophomore year, which ended in June, I found myself wondering if just maybe the administration had been sniffing model airplane glue at their little school board meetings, because some of the decisions they made were a bit strange. And guess what. I have examples.

For instance, in September, all of the rooms in the nether regions of Elsinore High School known as “The 400s,” were re-carpeted, apparently because no one could think of anything better to spend a few thousand dollars on. Well, they didn’t ask me. How about new books to replace the decrepit ones currently being used? Only the seniors (and juniors who can afford good bribes) have lockers — how about buying some more? No, I guess it’s more important to have NEW CARPETING, the scent of which disintegrated the tissue inside my nose that separates my nostrils, than to make things convenient for the students.

An interesting bit of what my English teacher would pompously call “dramatic irony” took place toward the end of the school year. Twelve students were caught with acid, and not the kind that comes from car batteries, either. One of the students was expelled. The other eleven received five-day suspensions and were back in school the next week. Isn’t it heartening to know that the school board believes in educating everyone — even druggies?!? They may wind up in prison some day, but by golly, they’ll know how to conjugate “to be” in eight tenses!

But wait, there’s more. During the last weeks of school, notices were displayed advising us that anyone involved in water balloon or water pistol fights would be suspended for five days — the same punishment the LSD Eleven had received. Are we to assume that throwing water balloons is just as bad as the possession of controlled substances (other than the cafeteria’s burritos) on campus?

The Powers That Be seem to hold the suspension punishment near and dear to the places where their hearts should be. It seems to be their generic solution to any problem. A friend of mine was suspended last year for ditching school. That makes sense, doesn’t it? A student doesn’t want to go to school one day, so to punish him, he is told he can’t go for ANOTHER FIVE! If we follow this line of thinking to its logical conclusion, then if someone is caught spray-painting “EYC” (which stands for Elsinore Young Car-thieves) on the school walls, they should punish him by making him do it on all the walls. If a student goes scooters and wipes out the French Club with an Uzi, he should have to do it to the Thespians, too, right?

Perhaps the reason for all this is the over-crowding: maybe the administration simply has too many kids to worry about. Perhaps if the new school is ever built (that is, if the kangaroo rats voluntarily get up and move to Los Angeles to become, say, lawyers) such seemingly irrational decisions won’t be made anymore.

I say “seemingly irrational” because maybe everything I’ve mentioned has a logical explanation. If anyone can supply the reasoning behind all this, please get in touch with me. I’d really like to know.

"EYC" actually stood for "Elsinore Young Classics," a hometown gang that we had for a while back in the day. The kangaroo rat was also important in local politics in 1990 because the rat, an endangered species, kept stopping a lot of things from being built due to its unfortunate habit of living where people wanted to build things.

This was the first really good column I wrote. It was fairly amusing (by 1990, I'm-not-even-16-yet standards), and it made some good points. I rarely did anything as useful as this afterward.I don't think I was ever really as angry as I tended to come across in some of these columns. Sure, I thought this stuff was absurd, but I don't think I ever lost sleep over it. But boy, did I seem outraged in print, eh?

After this column ran, a teacher asked me why I didn't talk about the good things the school administration did. Our conversation was used to begin column #13.