I recently attended an orientation to my sons’ possible elementary school.
The campus was massive. The day, eerily hot for a January morning. What seemed like an enormous gaggle of birds squeaked loudly in a nearby tree. I arrived a little earlier as I had heard parents could get a tad aggressive when it came to school parking. Luckily, I beat out what seemed like an endless stream of minivans and scored a pretty swell spot near the entrance. As I triumphantly strolled across the sea of white colored crossover SUV’s I was suddenly overcome with the urge to win.
What feeling is this and should I be feeling it? I asked myself. These people aren’t against me and my kid to attend this school. Or are they?
I never played sports in school. To be honest I don’t have much of a competitive bone in my body. I’m an artist. So, to walk into an auditorium at an elementary filled with other parents should’ve felt normal, albeit even comfortable. I’m a schmoozer, a networker, I should’ve been able to work the room.
But I didn’t. I looked around and all I saw were competitors. Like Spartacus walking into the colosseum, I puffed out my chest and surveyed the landscape.
Alas, the enemies of my child are my enemies. Woman with a brown and gold Louis Vuitton handbag chewing her gum too aggressively. Man chatting on an green iPhone 11 Pro Max, probably the 256gb version. Other man who put on way too much cologne. Woman with her kids, even though the email specifically stated not to bring them. Because screw the rules … we’re at war … to attend the same elementary school!
A woman approached me, a glare in her eyes which seemed to burrow deep into my soul. What did she want? I had to act fast. The woman strolled cautiously up to me. She sensed the danger no doubt.
“Hi sir, how are you this morning?”
Ha! A trap if I had ever seen one. How am I? Who even asks that anymore. Surely a spy. Her husband, the one with the cologne, sent her.
“I’m fine,” I replied.
Take that rebel scum!
We stand there motionless. In complete silence, sizing each other up. Looking for breaks in the armor. Waiting for a weakness to = allow me to take control and render her and everyone watching completely powerless! [insert evil laugh here]
Finally, she said “okay well my name is Angelica and I’m the school’s admissions director, if you have any questions please feel free to ask.”
And like that, she was gone. I could’ve said something. Done something. To stick out. To show the admissions director that I … errr my son … deserved to go to this school. I sat in my preselected seat dejected. I had failed.
Five minutes into the presentation as the sounds were muted and muffled by my own self-loathing, Angelica stood at the podium and explained the school’s 100 percent random and arbitrary admissions lottery system.
My mind raced. I questioned everything. All was new. I looked around and the fire of competition sparked to life.
How many lottery tickets can I get? I pondered.
And so, my dearest Watson, the game was afoot!
To be continued…