Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" If you want your prayers to be answered, cast a wide net! Pray to every god and goddess you can think of. One of them's bound to be waiting by the celestial telephone to take your call.
Most of us yearn to be unique in some way. And with 400 million people just in this country alone, it's a doggoned challenging proposition.
Fortunately for me, I can make claim to an unparalleled level of uniqueness.
Oh sure, there are scores and scores of people who spend hours sitting under pine trees staring up at turkey vultures. Gosh, we talk about it every day in the lunchroom at the school where I work. You know, trading good roost sites and describing a particularly fetching buzzard, or remembering buzzard-watching of days past. Old hat. So commonplace.
But me, ah! I stand alone.
I have an unruly twelve-year-old.
My daughter The Spare, age 12, is beautiful and a talented actress. She had the lead in her school play back in November. But -- I know this will surprise and mystify all of you -- she doesn't give a fig for her schoolwork. Her grades have tanked. She lies about being prepared for tests, she lies about having her homework finished, she gives up when the going gets tough -- and of course she tries to sneak all of this past myself and Mr. Johnson.
Friday she was supposed to attend an after-school study group on science, for a test on Monday. But Friday night was also the date of the Middle School's only semi-formal dance -- an event she had been slobbering over in anticipation for weeks. She had a dress all ready (custom altered by her grandma), a cute bolero jacket, shoes, and about 50 ideas on hair dressing.
At the prompting of her friends, she blew the science study and went out for pizza.
Mr. Johnson and I had no choice but to forbid her to go to the dance. We stood like a united front as she:
1. Wept loudly.
2. Pitched a fit and threw things around.
3. Abused the teddy bear that belonged to her late grandfather.
4. Hurled insults at me (I wish I could remember the ones that made me laugh, but alas, the only ones I can remember are the ones that made me want to cry.)
5. Bemoaned her stupidity and predicted a future of worse failure.
6. Spent the rest of the evening crying.
I'm sure those of you reading this simply cannot imagine such a one-of-a-kind scenario. Yes, you completely understand my collection of vulture feathers and my willingness to sit through a two-hour planning meeting for the East Coast Vulture Festival, but you must be entirely baffled by this extraordinary young teenager.
Yeah, I'm well nigh stumped too.
THE MERLIN OF BERKELEY SPRINGS