Saturday, December 31, 2005

Holiday Gift from my Daddy

Most folks 'round here know that my daddy and I don't always see eye-to-eye, especially about football. He and Mama watch it incessantly, sometimes on two TVs at a time so they don't miss anything when they walk from room to room. Me, I see a television and am overwhelmed with the desire to TURN IT OFF, especially if it's a football game. I mean, music is more pleasant, especially Dixie Broadcasting, my favorite.

But I've learned to look the other way when we're together, because I know they love the game and the medium, TV. Also, Daddy doesn't see so well these days, so reading is limited and he needs something to fill up all the space in his mind so he doesn't get extra grouchy, if you know what I mean. Bless his heart, he's become so grouchy that he reminds me of the main character in On Golden Pond, and that defines the term "grouch".

Well, I was visiting with them the other day and that entertainment machine segued from their favorite, football, to the local news briefs. The news anchor was blathering along as they are prone to do, some crime of great import committed by a person of another ethnicity, when one line she said seemed to jump out louder than all the rest. "...Local _______________ (fill in the ethnicity here) protest that the accusations are racist in nature..."

My daddy shifted in his recliner and looked me straight in the eye and laughed in that sarcastic way he always laughs. "Racist. huh? Don't they realize that ALL races are racist? Every single one?" Then he went back to his TV viewing, his eyes glazing over as I watched. The game was back on again.

I couldn't hardly breathe for the surprise I felt. He understood!

Merry Christmas, Daddy! and thanks for the gift.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Laurel's Lament, or How I Became a Kinist

Under ordinary circumstances, I might never have noticed. But a teacher operates daily under unusual circumstances. Teachers see all the sides of children that parents might want to deny are there, that they might write notes to the teacher to cover up for, and might just plain lie about to anyone else who asks.

No one wants to admit that darling boy is a slacker.

But when the nice-looking young blond guy who hasn't turned in one assignment all semester hands you the note pleading that mama's boy just didn't understand the requirements of the course and could you just give him extra credit work enough to make up for the forgotten work of weeks and weeks, and he smiles at you all sweet and vacant, and it's three days before the end of the semester, that's when you become a Kinist.

Kinists don't let their boys become slackers. A Kinist dad knows that the future of the race depends on boys like these, and he makes sure his boy knows it as well.

I became a Kinist many times, each day facing the slackers, the wiggers, and the gradebook software packed with the earned A's of the organized, disciplined young ladies and the C- and below white boys. The boys those lovely young ladies are supposed to depend on some day.

Get real.

Who can depend on a slacker? On what planet does a spoiled white boy trade in his Xbox 360 and camera phone for a productive job that requires will and discipline?

Spoiled white boys; a good reason to become a Kinist. Kinist folks train their boys at home, and make them earn the toys they want, if they allow them at all.

The Asian kids excel. They are disciplined, and mom and dad talk constantly about the importance of education. Some of their parents or grandparents believed in the future enough to wade through the shallows of a dirty swamp to get out of Communist China. Some handed a baby up to a helicopter leaving an embassy roof. Some rode overloaded, leaky boats through uncertain seas.

I have no problems with the Asian kids. They don't hand you get-out-of-work-free notes, they hand you immaculately formatted documents that touch on every point you wanted covered. And they apologize for asking to go to the restroom during class.

But they don't look like I do or my grandparents did, and the apologies sometimes seem excessive, and sometimes I just don't understand what goes on behind their eyes. Even more, I wouldn't want my grandchildren to look at me through almond eyes, no matter how much I like some individuals of their kind.

I became a Kinist because I think white folks are worth saving, despite all the propaganda to the contrary. That within those slacker boys there still smolders an ember of self-respect that just needs the right fuel and fanning to rise up into the clear flame of accomplishment. I believe that those vacantly smiling, entertainment-besotted boys can still become men worthy of respect, worthy of marrying my daughter off to, worthy of wading through a swamp for.

I handed the note back to the good-looking blond boy and told him, "Didn't you read the syllabus? There is no extra credit in this class."