'Matter of Laugh or Death,' the award-winning humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
THE 3 R’S: READING, ‘RITING, ROCK N’ ROLL
Oh boy, what a dilemma. I received in the mail a ticket to the Bruce Springsteen concert at UConn Stadium, the new taxpayer-funded, state-of-the-art football facility in East Hartford. (I know it’s really called Rentschler Field, but I can’t pronounce or spell the word Rentschler.) The ticket was sent anonymously. It must have been from a secret admirer who knows I’m a big Springsteen fan.
The problem wasn’t whether to go to the concert or not. I’ve been a fan of “The Boss” for almost three decades, and I just couldn’t pass up a chance to see him in concert one last time before his children put him in a nursing home.
I tried to remember the last time I attended a rock n’ roll concert. I think it was in the early 1980s—again a Springsteen show. Back then, my tolerance for the typical rock concert environment, loud noises and rude behavior, was much higher than it is now. (Mostly, because I was causing the loud noises and rude behavior rather than tolerating them.)
At first I was a little concerned that at this point in my life I might be more suited for “rockin’ chair” rather than “rock n’ roll.” But I figured a concert by an A.A.R.P. eligible rock star would not draw a riot-prone crowd like some of those younger, heavy metal acts. Yes, there were sure to be 40,000 people at the show, but most would be middle-aged baby boomers. And especially here in Connecticut (state motto: “Boring is a virtue”), this meant the greatest chance for loud noises and rude behavior would be if I was sitting next to yuppies from Farmington who chatted with their stockbrokers on cell phones throughout the evening.
My dilemma was not whether I could tolerate being surrounded by 40,000 middle-aged rock n’ roll fans. My dilemma was the fact the concert was scheduled for the same night as the parent-teacher conferences at my daughter’s high school. I’ve spent my whole adult life—well, at least my whole adult sober life—complaining about the lack of parental involvement in the educational system. Too many parents, quite often baby boomers, are way too busy these days to take an active role in their children’s learning. (Probably spending all their time going to rock concerts or chatting with their stockbrokers on cell phones.)
Over the years I’ve often expressed my displeasure about this topic to anyone who’d stand still long enough to listen (usually lasting a maximum of four seconds before they’d turn and run in terror). I’ve also written plenty of cantankerous letters-to-the-editor and opinion columns bemoaning the fact our school systems have turned into glorified day care centers, blaming both the lazy parents who willingly abdicate their child-rearing responsibilities to others, and the educational professionals who see more jobs and greater funding in becoming the nursemaids of America’s youth.
During parent-teacher conferences in the past, I’ve been able to get some teachers to admit (after backing them into a corner during one of my rants) that they wish they could just teach, and not have to spend so much time as social workers. At these conferences, teachers often make the same observation: “The parents who really need to be here tonight, as usual, are not here.”
So, after all these years of being an official public education crank (I’m not an official member of a local taxpayer association yet since, at age 46, I’m still about 20 years shy of the minimum age requirement), I was suddenly faced with a very difficult choice: back up my big mouth with action and meet my daughter’s teachers, or enjoy one last opportunity to see my favorite rock n’ roller live (or possibly alive—you never know).
I explained the situation to my daughter, who said without hesitating, “Go to the concert.”
I was surprised. “Really? You don’t mind?” I said.
“Of course not,” she replied. “Besides, I overheard my teachers talking the other day. Who do you think sent you that ticket?”
|Home||Current Faith||Current Funnies||Faith Archive||Funnies Archive||Contact Bill|