It wasn’t until I was planning my own wedding, with all those seating charts and catering counts, that I realized what a jackass I had been to RSVP ‘yes’ to my college friend Anne-Laure’s wedding and then not show up. My lame excuse: I had been out too late the night before, and ominous traffic reports said it was going to take five hours to get from Boston to the Cape. The truth was that I was 23 and stupid.
Similarly, while I have been informally appointed by the POS’s (Parents of Seniors) of Piedmont to deliver a public service announcement to the masses, it involves a social convention I knew nothing about until this year and have thus cluelessly violated countless times.
Has anyone else been following the St. Paul’s trial? If you’ve missed it, count yourself lucky. No good news there. To recap: last month, a 19-year-old graduate of the exalted boarding school (alma mater of Ambassadors, Vanderbilts, and plenty of miscellaneous 1-ers%) went on trial for the alleged rape of a 15-year-old then-freshman classmate.
The story made national news because of the prestige of St. Paul’s – most articles couldn’t resist mentioning the $55K+ tuition – and because it was no isolated incident. Rather, the assault was part of a ‘tradition’ called the ‘Senior Salute’ in which senior boys compete to ‘slay’ (their word) as many freshman and sophomore girls as possible by graduation. As has become de rigueur in these types of schemes, points were awarded based on the intensity of the ‘slay’ (extra credit for deflowering virgins!) and the boys kept score on social media (only after the school repeatedly painted over the sharpie-produced tally behind the washing machine).
Ever since the exposé on the crushing conditions endured by Seattle’s overworked ‘Amazonians’, there’s been a lot of press about white-collar workplace conditions. NPR had an amusing feature last week where listeners called in with stories about odd or unreasonable bosses. There was a manager who required all staff to purchase from a list of approved laundry detergents, shampoos, and body lotions. One workplace mandated that you could only have one personal item in your cube, and it had to be framed. A neat-freak boss wouldn’t let anyone enter through the front door because he didn’t want the carpets to get dirty.
This one is an oldie from way back in September 2010. I barely recognize my tender young self, shuttling a nervous kindergartener off to school and conquering PMS for the first time. Remember the days pre-online registration, when the kids would come home the first day with a thick packet of forms to fill out? With a top-of-the-world senior in the house, the dwindling number of First Days is feeling all too real for me. I’m trying hard not to dwell on the ‘lasts’ too much. I was even sentimental about our final, sweaty walk-through registration. But I’m sure you’ll excuse me if I draw the line on waxing romantically about the emergency forms.
What is it about a new school year? The air crackles with excitement for students and non-students alike. Not-so-deeply buried memories of new crayon boxes, new possibilities, and wondering who you’ll sit with at lunch.
Or maybe not. I saw a friend at Mulberry’s last Wednesday who sends her youngest off to college this year. For her, the week of back-to-school was bittersweet. She’s already seen two kids’ rooms go dark, and she’s about to see the final one fade away. She said she was a little numb about the whole thing, confused about what to do.
I’ve written before in praise of small things that aren’t exactly the cure for cancer, but which make life measurably better. Things like the Canyon Post Office, the new four-wheel-drive rolling bags, or Uber. Sadly, last week brought an end to the most prominent member of that club. Naturally I’m talking about The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.