A Lighter View . . . Open house . . . Food, focus, and flesh-eating bacteria

A Lighter View . . . Open house . . . Food, focus, and flesh-eating bacteria

By Karen M. Morris

By Karen M. Morris

Freelance writer

Some things improve with time. Sharp cheeses. Fine wines. Bad haircuts. Other things don’t. Toe hair. Flat pop. The annual open house at school. When I was growing up, the “open house” date was circled on everyone’s calendar. It was considered an event and prepared for like an undeclared national holiday. Baths and fancy clothes were a must. Even Dad threw on a suit and a splash of Old Spice. I couldn’t wait to show off my parents, and for the teacher to say what an asset I was to the class.

Things are different now. It’s not because the schools don’t try to lure you. They hold raffles, give door prizes, offer food, and try to remember the names of 1600 children. Considering I have trouble remembering the names of my three, I find this impressive.

While I was bleaching the bathroom grout, a squishy note fell out of the soap dish. It was from Leo’s school, reminding everyone about tonight’s open house. Somehow, I sensed Leo didn’t want to show me off to his teachers.

I took a spit bath and raced out the door dressed like I was auditioning for the Waltons. Being the last parent to arrive, I was lucky to get a parking spot on the same side of town as the school.

The evening started with the principal greeting us in the auditorium. She explained how our children are like little ships with rudders, and it’s her job to guide them in the right direction. Apparently, she hadn’t met Leo; he’s been dry docked for years and considers “undecided” a career choice.

Some lug sitting behind me propped his feet on my seat. The foot smell was bad enough, but he kept kicking the back of my chair to the beat of “Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?”. When I turned to tell Bronco Boy to get his funky feet off my chair, I could see I was way overdressed.

Next, we were treated to a slide show. Big mistake. Within seconds, everyone was asleep. Row after row collapsed like a maze of toppled dominoes, including the woman snoring on my shoulder. The first slide contained only one word: FOCUS. I’m not sure if that was meant for the projectionist or the parents.

Some parents skipped the presentation altogether and hung out in the hall talking. Several went outside to smoke, while others just cruised the parking lot. Before the presentation was over, someone set off the fire alarm, and we had to evacuate the building.

It was disturbing when I realized these were the same kind of people I went to high school with…I had no idea they were capable of reproducing.

When we were allowed to return to the building, our group had shrunk. Half the people became confused and went home. The rest of us participated in the bloodsport of locating a different classroom every 10 minutes without being tardy or seriously injured. I managed to score two out of five classes with no stitches.

Honor roll students were stationed in the hall to give directions. They’d never even heard of Leo’s classes. That’s how I ended up in the broom room for Hacky Sack 2., the nurse’s office for Tech-Ed, and the bus barn for Advanced Origami.

The English teacher was shocked to see me…alive. Leo had written an essay on how he’d spent the last year caring for his bedridden mother with a flesh-eating bacteria and strabismus. She found it particularly heart-rending when he described how he gave me nightly foot rubs instead of doing his homework.

Before we could discuss my miraculous recovery, the bell rang. Time to find Business Law. And from the looks of it, Leo was going to need a lawyer when I got home.

When the PA system crackled, “You should now be in your 6th hour class”…I realized I’d been misdirected and was sitting in the boys’ bathroom.

As I disrupted Business Law with my late entrance, the instructor looked at me and said, “You must be Leo’s mom.”

The poor teacher tried to give an overview of the course, but the class was out of control. There were so many cell phones ringing, it sounded like a bell choir. One woman had so many phones and pagers, her purse bounced itself across the desk.

And then there was a guy who wanted to show off to the class. He kept grilling the teacher like a hostile witness and holding up the Reader’s Digest as his reference source. Just as he began his summary on Napster vs Sony, the bell rang. Now there was a real miracle. Finally, time to go home.

When I got to my van, someone had written “bite me” on the back.

Yep, open houses do not improve with time.

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