So: we get a notice about my daugther’s upcoming track and field (in fact: cross-country running) event, which will be held at eight a.m. one morning at Fort Henry Hill. Really the notice is about there being no bus available, so the parents are responsible for bringing their kids to the meet.
And at this I make a face. And the reaction to my face-making (in fact: my face) is standard, even universal –– not just at home but at work and everywhere these days.
“All the buses were probably used up taking kids to school,” my wife says.
Which is a bit like saying we’re doing your surgery without surgical gloves because we used them all up on the other surgeries, but whatever. I am trying to evolve, go with the flow. It’ll all work out, everyone says, all the time, regardless of the appalling shambles under discussion, and everyone gets really uncomfortable or even agitated if I continue to comment, and starts asking me why I’m being like this, and are you in a bad mood?, so I am doing my best these days to just look away, look away.
A teacher will be waiting halfway up the hill to direct students to their meeting spot, the note reads.
“There you go,” my wife says.
Luckily, I have the kind of elastic, it-will-all-work-out (read: not really) job that allows for this kind of thing, so at 7:50 this morning I find myself driving my daughter up Fort Henry Hill. There is no signage about any track and field event. There is no teacher. Instead there are just distracted clusters of parents and kids, milling about, some walking in the general direction of … something? In my personal lexicon of disorganization I call this the Bullshit Bingo Deluxe (with extra cheese).
I think back on my own track and field events in school … those fluttering clusters of white participation (Participaction?) ribbons (white was the colour code for: yay! you exist!), the jumpy chaos of wholly unprepared kids under half-assed supervision (most gym teachers only liked two things: winners and cigarettes), mass dehydration, the weird kid who took a dump in one of the urinals …
Eventually, after traipsing uphill across some wet fields, we find some spot which bears the same psychic hallmarks of another crowded area I remember, the one just back from the betting windows at the race track: a sort of dedicated pandemonium, with plenty of screaming kids for backdrop noise. Finally a teacher shows up with some sort of list, and Oona gets some kind of sticker, AND DON’T LOSE THAT STICKER, and let’s not even talk about her behaviour or the way she was dressed (there was a woollen poncho involved), and I leave, and start the walk back to the car, to go into work, late.