Friday, September 09, 2005

Grilled spawn . . .

Let Spotty set the scene for you, gentle reader:

A sensible beige sedan motors down a ribbon of highway in a sea of corn and soybeans. There is a middle-aged couple in the front seat and a young man, about eighteen or so, wedged in between boxes in the back seat. A decal in the back window proclaims Providence Academy and a worn bumper sticker shows ush/Che in faded red, white and blue. They are obviously headed to take the boy to college.

A perfectly ordinary fall scene. But these are not ordinary people. This is Katie, Mr. Katie, and Spawn of Katie.

In her Thursday column, titled Strong examples from life, fiction make the man, Katherine Kersten tells the bittersweet story (Katie's words, not Spot's) of a thirteen hour road trip to take the youngerster off to college for the first time. Thirteen hours of Katie's withering cross examination. That's enough to make anybody question the existence of a just God.

At some point in the journey, as Katie is humming Onward Chrsitian Soldiers, she turns back to her son who has the iPod cranked up to cover the incessant humming. Say, son of Katie, she says, who was your favorite high school teacher? In Katie's world, it is very important to rank everything; all things must be ranked in the pecking order of goodness. If you don't rank people too, how will you know who is the better person? This would be a confusing state of affairs to Katie, for whom heirarchy is life.

Son of Katie is pinned in place in the back seat; caught like a rat in a trap. He knows that Katie will be all over him until he coughs up a name and a justification for his answer. So, he names his literature teacher. Why? Well, let's see. Oh yeah. We read The Iliad and learned about sword fighting and manhood and stuff. It was cool.

Katie abstracts this into a Great Life Lesson about decision making. The best and most recent decision-making lesson to come out of The Illiad is for Brad Pitt, reminding him that he stinks in beards and sandels soap operas. Kind of like Tom Selleck and Rachel Ward did as Ferdinand and Isabella in the stinker Columbus.

Anyway, Katie talks to the literature teacher and comes to the ground-breaking conclusion that a high school teacher has a big influence on his or her charges. This is just the sort of laser perception for which Katie was hired by the Strib. Entire new avenues of scholarship are opened by Katie's epiphany. Well, okay, maybe not.

Spotty wil conclude with a wish for the son of Katie. May you have a chance to read Mark Twain, James Joyce, Sinclair Lewis, Graham Greene, Frederick Manfred, Frank McCourt and many other great and more contemporary authors in addition to the classics. Maybe read the book currently on Spot's nightstand, The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini. Take in the movie Crash. Who knows? You might learn something. Just don't tell Mom.


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