Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The solution to homelessness? Mansions! (Duh!)

Ah, the elementary school journal. This is where I first learned the art of bullshitting, although I probably wouldn't have called it that at the time. I actually didn't swear much until middle school; in third grade, my concerned friends forced me to undergo recess "Swearing Lessons," of which they were the instructors. But I digress.

Anyway, the way it worked was that at the beginning of Language Arts (that's what Reading/English was called at our elementary school—and I so hope that it still is), the teacher would write a topic on the board and you would spend 10 minutes or so writing down pretty much whatever you could pull out of your ass. Seriously, check out these topics and my "essays" on them. The first couple are presidential-themed, because, hey, that seems topical.


Journal topic: "A bottle on the beach"

So I immediately run home and ask my dad what I should do. He takes me to the mayor. I show him the message and the bottle. He is amazed.

Uh, what does the message SAY? That probably would have been a good jumping-off point.

He ships it off to Washington D.C. The president wants to meet me. I buy a new dress
and I'm still nervous. What is he going to tell me?

If you think it will be something that gives us a clue as to the message's content, you are shit out of luck.

"This message is historical." he says. "We are putting it in the museum. Your name will appear next to the words 'founded by'. Here." he hands me a fifty dollar bill. I'm at a loss for words!

You could buy kids off pretty cheap in the '80s. Today, I could have sold that bad boy on eBay. Founded by, schmounded by...

I see the message in the museum. It's pretty boring. My name is next to the words 'founded by'. I always forget what the message is about when I leave. Well, at least I got fifty dollars.

So you see, the historical message wasn't at all important because it was BORING. History? Zzzzzzz... Oh, sorry. What were talking about? Huh... I don't remember, but I think I got 50 bucks. Sweet!

Journal topic: Washington D.C.

I'd never known what to say to the president. I hadn't thought about it until then. The class was pushed forward into the president's "chambers," as they said.

Nobody really knew what to say. Most of us just stood there, akwardly shifting from one foot to the other. "The levy isn't fair." someone spoke up. "Yeah!," and then, "All we'll get to do is work." "I hate work." someone yelled.

The levy was always of great concern to us in elementary school, as every year they threatened to take away Art, Music, and all the other fun stuff unless everybody ponied up.

Ronald Reagan was stunned. He thought we'd stand there for 15 minutes and then leave. WRONG! "Ahem," he said, clearing his throat, "I really can't do anything about that." We were all disappointed. "Yes you can!" someone piped up. "You're the president." We all nodded. "No, children, I can't. I have to eat lunch." Children! Lunch is better than us! I should've known. Well, at least we'd told him what we thought. That counts.

My, I was a cynical child. However, it's true that Reagan would not have been able to rig our levy for us. (Though the lunch bit is a nice touch.)

As you can see, I was not fond of Reagan. In first grade, I had voted against him in our school-wide "election" in favor of Mondale (or, to be honest, mostly Ferraro, because she was a girl), and in fifth grade I would pick Dukakis over him as well. Neither of my parents were registered to vote (for an embarrassingly long amount of time, actually; they were finally badgered into it once we, their children, neared adulthood) and they were generally disinterested in politics, so I think the anti-Reagan thing may have been all me.

But lest you think I was preoccupied with school levies and couldn't see the big picture, I bring you Journal Entry #3 (still political, but blessedly Reagan-free)...

Journal topic: If you had the power, what would you wish

I would be rich. I would have a mansion, expensive cars, a big pool out back, and giant rooms in my house. I have animals to care for at my house, too.

Hi, it was the '80s. Did you guys play MASH like we did? It stood for Mansion, Apartment, Shack, House and was a kind of crude fortune-telling "game" that would predict your future mate, abode, vehicle, and number of offspring (and sometimes career—I believe we added that in a later version). For every facet of your grown-up life you had to list four options—and in our rules, at least one of those options had to be crappy (i.e., along the lines of "shack"). Basically, you really wanted to end up living in a mansion with Kirk Cameron, driving your three children around in your Porsche. Worst-case scenario: You lived in a shack with some dorky boy from your class, drove a Yugo, and had 13 kids.

In my house there is so much room and I have so much money so, I let the poor come in. There I give them a place to sleep, clothing, and food. If they are sick, they are taken to a doctor. That kind of stuff is important.

Even at age 10, I could see the need for universal healthcare.

At my house it is like a zoo, with all the animals I own. I let people come and see my animals for free. My animals are tame so, people can pet them. The kids love it!

I like when I talk about kids as if I'm not actually one of them.

I am so powerful that I can make world peace. There will never be another war again! I travel all over the world telling everyone why peace is so important. Some people know what I mean while there are some I have to convince. Soon the world is peaceful.

That IS powerful. But note the clear '80s message that money can buy you power. And also turn your mansion into a lovely homeless shelter!

But I was 10, so it was obviously not ALL about passing the school levy and saving the world...

Journal topic: Free choice

Most of my "free choice" journal entries detailed my exciting weekends of ice skating, sleepovers, and watching films of questionable merit (e.g., Harry and the Hendersons or The Secret of My Success, which I claimed was "a good movie"). This one, for instance, is devoted to discussing the Crocodile Dundee sequel:

On Saturday night I went to the movies with my whole family—my mom, Halle, my dad, Chuck, my sister, Genie, and my brother, Will, and me. We saw "Crocodile" DUNDEE II. Here's what I thought:

All right, Crocodile Dundee returns! This time he's living in New York with his girlfriend, Sue. Her x-husband sends her some photos in the mail and—WHAM-O. These cocaine dealers are kidnapping her. This adventure takes them out of the state, out of the country, out of the continent, into Austrailia! See this movie!

My dad said it was as good as the first movie. I agree with him! They are both great movies, funny, full of adventure, and sometimes suspenseful. See these movies.

WHAM-O! I was going to make a joke about how you should never trust a 10-year-old's taste in movies, but honestly? Now I kind of want to rewatch the Crocodiles Dundee. Is it wrong?

Okay, yes, it's wrong.

NEXT TIME: Our first guest author, also known as my sister! Her untitled fourth grade masterpiece is possibly one of the funniest things I've ever read. Also, maybe this will guilt her into reading my blog more often.


Ceinwyn said...

Wow, I used to play MASH all the time when I was a kid! It was the only car trip game that kept my brother and I occupied and not fighting.

We were hardcore MASH players, too -- we added a bunch of categories (like career, where in the world you would live, pet, etc.), and of the four choices for each, only ONE was a good choice. So the odds of MASH predicting a good future? Slim to none.

I ended up living in a shack in Antarctica with my 150 children and cockroach pets far too often.

Anonymous said...

I gave my friend swearing lessons in 7th grade, but she still wouldn't say damn without adding beaver in front of it.

Mash was a great game.

The whole Reagan thing was great.

I love this blog, because I too wrote hilariously bad stories years ago (not that long, though, I'm only 18), and one of them was about Wakefield type identical quadruplets with blonde hair and blue eyes. It was terrible.

Linley said...

I have no sympathy for you and your Yugo as you dust me on the highway in my...garbage truck.

Man, I wanted that white stretch limo!

BadKat said...

Hey, I had to be Ross Perot in the mock “debate” for the mock elections when I was in the 5th grade! Let’s just say the girl who got Clinton squashed me.

My mother and grandmothers have the filthiest mouths on the planet, so I learned from example. When I was about 4 or 5, my mom said that I was having trouble with the television knobs and I clenched my fists and mumbled “F*CK!” Swearing is like normal vocabulary for me, I have always had a very foul mouth!

We kind of played a version of MASH, only it involved one of those origami fortune telling things.

Sada said...

I forgot about the garbage truck! That was totally the worst future-vehicle!

gollygee said...

I took MASH WAY too seriously. I probably have the pages where I lucked out and ended up married to my crush stashed away somewhere because I totally believed that was my DESTINY. There was another game similar to MASH too... I forget what it was though... Rats.

zanne said...

I used to love playing MASH. I actually found an online version a few years ago & of course I had to play it!

I love your story about the message in the bottle. I really want to know what the note said, though! Guess it wasn't important if you forgot what it said every time you left! ha

I always wished for a mansion and a pool, too.

Sada said...

Online MASH??? Oh, hells yes:




They're all, like, exactly the same except for the graphics.

Anonymous said...

Goddamn i love this blog! Also, as an Australian, i also love your excellent spelling of 'Australia' ;-)

Anonymous said...

OK those online MASH links are AWESOME! i totally just played and got

You will live in Shack.

You will drive a green scooter.
You will marry a homeless person and have 23 kids.

You will be a teacher in Bangkok.


Kathryn said...

Dude ... MASH. Oh yeah! We also had one where you wrote down your full name with your crushes full name, and the vowels had a certain point value, and there was cross multiplying and simplifying... it was crazy.

Anonymous said...

In my little corner of NJ, it was "MASHT" - "t" was for "toilet"

How random was that? We actually played it after my friends' rehearsal dinner so that we could tell what their fortunes would be.

Sada said...

Bwa ha ha! Obie, I hope your newly married friends did not end up living in a toilet.

I just dug around in my suitcase of blog materials (which I seriously need to unpack at some point) and found a notebook with old MASH games in it! Looks like someone was looking forward to a lifetime in a shack with Danny Wood and their pet hamster... And apparently we added in a divorce option and the following marital woes: Cheater, Normal, Sex Abuse, Alcohol Abuse. Oh my. Also whether the kids looked like you or your husband. WTF?

There are also some TRUE LOVE and PERFECT COUPLES tests, where you would tally up how many of those letters appeared in your & your crush's full names to get some sort of luuuuv percentage. And of course, the FLAME game--that's Friends, Lovers, Alimony (bwa!), Marriage, Enemies. For that one I think you crossed out all of the letters your names had in common, and then the number of remaining letters would determine your fate.

It was a science, clearly.

Sada said...

Also, it took me YEARS to learn to spell Australia properly. That and butt--I refused to add the second T until, like, 7th grade.

zanne said...

So, I finally got to read my masterpiece, Jaime's Baby-sitting Job. Based on the handwriting, I think I wrote it in 7th grade. I think the best part was my description of the living room: "The living room had two white coaches and a blue carpet." White coaches & a blue carpet?! Also, when I was writing what Jaime was thinking, I wrote it slanted, which I assume was supposed to be italics. I wish I had saved more of my old stories!

zanne said...

oops, I spelled that wrong. It should be couches.

Sada said...

Stylie! Actually, I kind of liked thinking they had white coaches in their living room. I was alternately picturing handbags and Cinderella-style transportation.

Genie said...

Guilt trips work!

Anonymous said...

I love your blog - I stumbled over here from Dairi Burger and holy crap you made me laugh. I've gotten one of my guy friends onto it and he thinks you are genius.

I am Australian and loved your spelling of my country :D In my home town we played MASH but it was called MATCH - Mansion, Attic, Toilet, Cottage, House. Best game ever. We also had the percentage game where you used the letters in LOVES and the letters in your name and your crushes name and you got a percentage and that was how much you were meant to be together. I got 99% one time with the guy I liked and then played Match and got him as my husband. I was convinced it was fate.

Deathycat said...

What's sad is I never played MASH until I was in high school....

Sabrina said...

Oh em gee!
Your blog has me laughing SO hard! My stomach is starting to hurt!
Me and my friends actually started playing MASH in 5th grade and then we got addicted to DJ MASH IT which I think was Dump, Jail, Mansion, Apartment, Shack, House, Igloo, and Teepee.
And the rule was that you could pick 3 items on the list and everybody else picked a crappy 4th option.
Now I have MASH on my iPhone. It's so worth the 99 cents that my sister paid. Lol.