How did this happen? Starting this week I have a daughter in high school. This makes me quite proud and filled with the highest of expectations. Miranda’s a great kid who studies hard. Plus she has an insider’s advantage.
As luck would have it, I too attended an accredited high school. Not to brag, but I did awesome — right up until the last day when Boyd Wilkens started a food fight in the cafeteria, and I got caught throwing a peanut-butter-and-honey sandwich. Boyd receded into the shadows undetected while I was almost banned from graduation. Lesson learned: Be a leader, not a follower. Also, throw something more disgusting than a sandwich. An open fruit cup would have been a better choice.
What else did I learn in high school? More importantly, what did I retain? Was high school just an exercise in marking time or did it imbue me with an enduring foundation of scholarly rigor? Judge for yourself.
Below is Miranda’s course schedule followed by everything I remember from similar classes taken sometime in a previous century:
Global History: First there was only molten lava and lots of lightning, and then dinosaurs and apes happened. Through much shrieking and gnashing of teeth, the apes upgraded into ancient Egyptians who became Romans. Then came the Declaration of Independence, which begins with the immortal words: “To be or not to be?” Industry happened. The North won the Civil War, and the slaves were freed but then banned by Major League Baseball. Two really big wars — called “World Wars” — were started by Germany. Germany apologized so we gave them money. Japan was sorry too — or was it China? We gave them money too. Anyway, the Beatles made everything better, and everybody except Nixon had sex. Tang instant breakfast drink was invented. Nixon resigned.
Geometry: The hippopotamus of a right triangle is uncomfortable and extremely dangerous. A rhomboid can be treated with special creams or, in more severe cases, surgery. Most circles are round. According to the Pythagorean Theorem, the chances of any child ever again being being named “Pythagoras” is negative pi.
The shortest distance between two points is a Time Warner outage to a Time Warner rate increase.
The father of geometry is Kevin Euclid. He batted .287 in nine years with the Red Sox.
English: English was invented in Belgium by Ralph Waldo Shakespeare, nicknamed “The Barge.” Among his greatest works are King Henry the Integer, O Rhomboid, Wherefore Art Thou? and The Claiming of the Stew. America produced its own crop of good writer persons, including John Steinbuck (Grapes Ahoy!), Herman Munsterville (Moby’s Dick) and Scarlett O’Hara (The Passing of the Wind). The Irish deserve a mention as well, especially James Joyce, whose prose is so rich and deeply layered that even Joyce refused to read Ulysses except for the Cliff Notes.
English has grammar and words, including verbs, which convey action. Everything else is a noun. Common English verbs include: legume, eel, chubbinate and degong. Sample usage: “In response to neighbors’ complaints about the noise, Harold reluctantly degonged his mother’s basement.” By reversing the direct and indirect objects of this sentence, we can infer that Harold should bathe more frequently if he desires to marry.
A dangling participle is misdemeanor except in Key West where it is good for a free drink.
Gym: Physical exercise, even badmitton, involves personal dampness.
Earth Science: The continents collided and the Plutonic Plates rubbed against each other, forming the dinosaurs and mountains. At first the dinosaurs were happy but then it got cold and an Altoid struck the Earth. The dinosaurs died and became coal. Next, through a miraculous process known as photosynthesis, the first mammals were hatched. Most mammals have hair. The ones who don’t are exceptionally brilliant and generously compensated in other ways.
Make a shallow incision from the gonads to the pharnyx, taking care not to cut into the gizzard. Wait! What, exactly are gonads? Was I sick that day?
Erosion. Bosphorus. Endoplasmic reticulum. Starch.
Spanish: Hola! El food fighto es todayo a noonito. Boydo Wilkenso is el experto. Yo trusto his judgmento totalmente.