Letter to the Principal

February 12th, 2013 posted by W. Bruce Cameron

hippie Office of the Principal Shawnee Mission East High School Shawnee Mission, Kansas (Mr. Cameron: As a courtesy — you are, after all, an alumnus of this school — we are sending you a copy of this letter we recently wrote your 17-year-old daughter in response to a query we received from her.) Dear Ms. Cameron: Thank you for your letter. Yes, we are pleased to report, your father’s old high school is still standing and our library was able to locate yearbooks dating “all the way back” to his graduation. In fact, a few teachers even remember your father, which I will get to in a moment. In answer to your first question: In every picture extant of your father he is well shod, wearing what I believe were called “earth shoes” back then. Also, the weather here is moderate, with snow generally lasting from December until March — hardly the entire school year. Thus his descriptions of the conditions under which he “struggled” to school in the morning do, as you suggest, seem a bit exaggerated. In fact, our bus logs are (remarkably) still intact, revealing not only that your father was a registered passenger, but also that his parents paid the extra ten dollars a month for door-to-door delivery. I am sure there were days when your father was very “sharply dressed,” as you state he puts it, but in every single photograph I was able to uncover he is wearing exactly the same thing: bell-bottom blue jeans with white strings trailing from the edges onto the floor, horizontal rents in the knees, and no belt buckle. His T-shirt displays a message easily communicated with hand gestures. His hair hangs past his shoulders and looks as if it was exposed to a lot of wind — perhaps he rode the school bus with the window open. Certainly a comb or brush would have difficulty navigating the tangle. As to academics and “concentrating on the basics,” one must remember the times: The “basics” back then may very well have embraced some of your father’s elective subjects, which included “Personal Citizenship,” “Ecology,” and one which apparently was called “Relevance.” We have no record of what, if anything, was taught in these classes. What records we do have show that your father did indeed take Geometry, just as he claims. In fact, he took it his sophomore year, repeated it his junior year, and repeated the course again his senior year — Geometry was required for graduation. Now as to Mr. Muggins, who had your father in a class called “Problems of Modern Relationships.” Mr. Muggins does not wish to dispute the claim that your father always had his homework done early, he merely wants to point out that no matter when it was done, it was always handed in late. In fact, your father sticks out in Mr. Muggins’s mind as having the most outrageous excuses for being unprepared, including having to evacuate his home because it was infected with the China Syndrome. Your father was not, sad to say, President of the Student Council. Perhaps he is confusing student government with a social group called “The Slackers,” which Mr. Muggins recalls was a group of boys who sat in the hallway and made loud groaning noises whenever an attractive girl strode past. Your father was assistant vice president of the club, and, to our knowledge, is the only past member not currently serving time in a federal penitentiary. One thing IS completely verifiable: Your father’s name is, indeed, carved above the door to the school. Please be advised that, now that we have noticed it, we will need to have it sanded out and refinished, at a cost of approximately three hundred dollars. We would appreciate it if your father would agree to pay for the damage without our having to engage any lawyers. The honor roll to which he apparently referred is not above the door, it hangs outside my office. I will leave unanswered the question as to whether his name is upon it. Thank you very much for your letter, which we found most amusing. Oh, and be sure to tell your father hello from Mr. Muggins.

W. Bruce Cameron (20 Posts)

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