July 21st, 2004


I am NOT a chaperone.

I spoke as a panelist last February to Presidential Classroom (http://www.presidentialclassroom.org). The Dean said that the kids loved me. She asked me to return for a week in the summer.

I arrived Saturday morning 6/19/04 with the flu, thinking I'd be teaching classes for a week. The dean gives me a binder with a weekly agenda of 17 hours of events every day and a roster of 40 students to chaperone. I was scared to death. I told my kids that I had no business being responsible for other people's children. I can barely supervise myself.

One of my kids asked me, "Are we gonna get to see the U.S. Embassy?" "No, we don't have a U.S. Embassy. We...live here. I know we argue a lot, but when you need an embassy to talk to yourself, that's usually time for a civil war. Then, depending on the outcome, an embassy might be appropriate." That's me, sharing the love.

Fortunately my co-counselor was a PC vet and handled most of the paperwork and chaperoning duties. The forced march up Capitol Hill in a suit and tie in 95-degree heat was a beast, but the kids told me repeatedly that they enjoyed having me for a chaperone.

The CEO, former MO Congressman Buechner, took the chaperones to breakfast in the Senate dining room. He's like the Jimmy Jones character from "NewsRadio." Funny, a smart guy who hides his smarts to powerful effect. I look at the menu and order the "Freedom Toast." Someday, our toast will again be French. This is my fervent prayer for the nation.

He told us the painting of Moses in the Senate hallway was one of a series of paintings up and down the hall dedicated to famous "lawgivers." I said, "Funny, that's my nickname for my wife." He left soon after that. I don't think he's used to people being funnier than him.

I want to do it again, but I have to train for it. Windsprints, cardio, etc. I kept killing time on the National Mall by sitting on a bench inside the National Botanic Garden under the water misters. I love the Botanic Garden. It looks like a set for a TV commercial for organic shampoo.

My highlight of the week? My group being called last to present our research paper and me standing up on a chair and leading my kids in the Star Wars "Darth Vader March" as our presenters took the podium. Hey, you have to make your own fun.

The staff's favorite moment of the week? When an intern asked me how I was handling my chaperoning responsibilities, and I said, "So far, I've done a good job at concealing my hatred for children."

My vacation

Just got back from visiting Memphis. The whole town looks like it's been hit with a ghetto bomb. I bet the Millington Naval Air Station could finish the job with one good air strike.

Went with my son to Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge, TN. God's country, if your god is a sadistic, resentful hillbilly. The streets are full of suffering tourists who buy crap under the guise of recreation. We played "Count the smiles on the tourists." I saw three smiles in four hours. I won.

Hillbillies are ugly enough without the frowns and bermuda shorts. All the homely people: where do they all come from? Where do they all belong? Dogpatch.

Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum was craptastic. $12.50 to see a mummy with a monkey torso and fish tail and put money into arcade machines. Believe it.