Mary Arline (queen_of_kithia) wrote,
Mary Arline
queen_of_kithia

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Opting out

When I was in 7th grade, the powers that be[*](Though whether that means the teachers, administration, PTA or what, I don't actually know.) decided to take our whole class on a day-long ski trip. It was supposed to be a class treat, but it came with a price: we were each expected to cough up $50 or so to cover the various costs involved on the mountain. This would have been early 1994, and--as I recall--it was not a time when my family could easily spare $50 to send me on a ski trip, which would have caused me a dilemma if it had been an activity in which I had any interest in participating. As it was, my only dilemma was how to get out of it. Which, as luck would have it, turned out not be be a problem at all: the permission slip they gave us for our parents to sign had several checkboxes at the bottom, and one of the checkboxes said something to the effect of: "My child does not have permission to go on the ski trip." So I handed the permission slip to my mother and said, "Mom, I don't want to go on this trip; please check the box that says I don't have permission to go." So she did.

And you know what? I had a great day that day. There were a handful of us who didn't go on the ski trip for whatever reason; one of the teachers stayed to supervise us, and we hung out in his classroom all day, playing games, watching movies, and eating pizza. I had a lot more fun than I would have had on the ski slope, being picked on by the mean girls and being harassed and humiliated by the surly ski instructor--who, I found out later, yelled at my best friend for falling the wrong way.[*](I know--now--that there's a way to fall so as to minimize the risk of injury, and I realize why that would be a valuable skill to master, but in the first place, every skill takes practice; in the second place, once gravity has ahold of you, there's only so much you can do about it; and in the third place, I don't see the point in yelling at someone after the fact for not doing what you wanted them to do when they were clearly trying to do it. I don't think that's a good teaching technique) From that day to this I have never had any regrets about not going on that ski trip. Not one regret in the 23 intervening years.

Once when I was in college--it must have been about 2003--George W. Bush paid a visit to our campus. That makes it sound a lot cozier than it was; he only stayed long enough to make a speech in the Barnett Center and shake a few hands on his way out the door. I was working my workstudy job at the time, but from the vantage point of the office windows, I saw the motorcade pull up and depart. You might be wondering whether I could have gotten the time off of work to go see the speech. I imagine that I probably could have if I'd have asked, but I didn't bother because I had NO desire whatsoever to be anywhere near W. or listen to him speak.

The effect of W's visit on the people around me was startling; everyone was suddenly all excited about going to hear his speech. It was like the end of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. People were asking me if I was going to go to the speech, and I was like, "Trust me; the last thing anybody wants--from the Secret Service on down--is for me to get within screaming distance of W." But could my friends leave it at that? No, they kept after me, saying, "But even if you don't like him, how many chances in your life will you get to hear a sitting president speak?" and I said, "Well, I don't know, but I'm going to wait for a good one." So I went to work; I earned my $7.50 for the hour and I watched the motorcade arrive and depart from the window, and that was more than enough. Even now--fourteen years after the fact--I have absolutely no regrets, because I know that absolutely nothing good would have come of me attending that speech.

The reason I bring all this up is that there were several stories on the news recently about the high school in one of the little towns around here taking students on a trip to D.C. for the inauguration. See, apparently they take a trip to D.C. every two years, usually in the spring, but because there was going to be an inauguration this year, they pushed it up. And, to be fair, I don't know when the plans for the trip were finalized; it could have been well before the election, so they could have finalized the plans with the belief that it was going to be a historic occasion for more positive reasons. Nevertheless, it pained me to hear the enthusiasm with which they spoke of the trip: "How many times in your life do you get to see a presidential inauguration?" Well, I don't know, but it still remains that this was NOT an inauguration but a farce, a sham, a mockery of democracy which I shall henceforth refer to as "dem-mockery." And if I had been one of those high school students, I would have taken the permission slip home to my mother and said, "Mom, I don't want to go on this trip; please say I don't have permission." And she would probably say, "Thank goodness you don't want to go, because I had no intention of allowing you to go anywhere near that monster."

With that said, however, if they wind up giving away tickets to the impeachment hearings, I'll be the first one in line. That's an opportunity I would regret missing out on.
Tags: idiocy, world turned upside down
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