I was recently asked to give a brief presentation to my Daughter’s
kindergarten class for a unit they were doing on careers. I figured it
would be a snap. I prepared a short history of twentieth century wage
slavery, threw in a little Marx, a little Lenin, followed by a moment to
choke up, ala Jerry Lewis at 3:00 am on Labor Day, over the injustice
and humiliation of a life in servitude to ‘The Man’. For the climax I
aimed to bring it all home by painting a picture of their future filled
with Info Tech sweatshops and the agony of carpal Tunnel Syndrome. I
crafted a nice series of visual aids using Power Point, but was disappointed to discover that I don’t have a laptop or know how to use
that program. I settled for drawing a picture of Frederick Engels on my
stomach, with my navel as his mouth and lowering my pants just enough to
provide a substantial beard without breaking any decency laws. I figured
I’d quote salient passages of "OUTLINES OF A CRITIQUE OF POLITICAL
ECONOMY" and get a few laughs using the old ‘Talking Belly’ routine.
Well. Suffice it to say my Daughter’s Kindergarten class will not be
winning any special awards for attention span.
I suppose I have to own some of the blame. It was a mistake to even open
the option of audience participation. I only meant to draw the tykes in,
set the mood as it were, when I opened by asking "Have any of your
parents ever crossed a picket line or worked as a Scab?" A bright-eyed
Tot politely raised its chubby paw and said, (I’m quoting here),
"I have a Pokemon"
"Pokemon?" I instantly shot back, "I’ve never even met Iman and if I
had, I’d hardly be so rude as to trespass on the marital territory of
the legendary Ziggy Stardust!" It was my intent to put the diminutive
heckler in his place, bonding with my audience and isolating him
simultaneously, but instead I was greeted with the signature glassy gaze
of complete incomprehension. "Ziggy Stardust?" I said, "David Bowie?
Husband to Iman? Statuesque super model? Played the shape shifter in
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country? Hello? I know you’re out there I
can hear you breathing." Nothing. The fact that Star Trek VI is an
allegory of the decline and fall of the Soviet Sate, thereby tying my
little joke to the main theme of my speech was wasted, a tragic case of
Pearls before Swine. I have to say, If Gorge W. is sincere in his
desire for education reform, I say bring him on.
Here I was, not yet into the prepared body of my text and already my
Daughter looked mere moments from tears. "Why doesn’t someone ask Mr.
Burbank what his job is?" the teacher prompted helpfully, pretending to
ignore my rapidly darkening gaze. A particularly pale and sausage like
urchin parroted the question and I replied that while I began my career
as an entry-level Whore, since accepting a promotion to low level
management I considered myself a "Kapo", a term used in Nazi
concentration camps for a prisoner chosen by the SS to head a work gang
made up of other inmates. Now I’d lost five of my allotted twenty
minutes and was totally off message. Thinking to salvage things by
bringing on Mr. Engels, I began to unbuckle my trousers, and that, as
they say, was all she wrote.
That evening I asked my daughter how I’d done. "Sarah’s Daddy gave us
each our own Floss" she replied. Sarah’s Daddy is a dentist. I imagine
the larger hygiene conglomerates regularly shower him in such plush
giveaways as a means of securing his loyalty. He probably could have
given each child a Waterpik without having to downgrade his seats on
this winter’s flight to Aruba. I began to feel a bit like Dustin
Hoffman’s character in "Marathon Man" (a neat call back to the previous
paragraph’s Nazi metaphor) and thought I might drive by Sarah’s Daddy’s
house and let Mr. Engels have a word with him.
I didn’t. Dylan’s daddy is speaking to the class next week. He’s a
note: -RoG- is still trying to decide whether or not he
prefers a free pack of dental floss, or another rant/article
from Max Burbank. I guess it depends if it's mint-flavored floss