Two generations ago it was a big deal to come back to your dorm room and find a tie hanging over the doorknob. The implications were as staggering as they were rare: a tie on the door meant your roommate was with a girl in your dorm room! An actual, flesh and blood, honest to goodness girl! “Get lost,” the tie explained. “There’s a girl in here!”
It might have seemed possible that somewhere in the next 50 years under some set of alien circumstances that somehow, some way there might be men at the summit of Everest. Maybe someday a man would run a mile in under four minutes. Who knows? Anything is possible. Heck, conceivably men might someday walk on the moon. But your roommate with a girl in his room? Now that was unlikely.
Yet a scant 50 years later, hookups in college dorm rooms are the common rule rather than the obscure exception. The Sunday morning “walk of shame” across campus is no longer worthy of remark.
What no one acknowledges-parents, teachers, administrators, elected officials-is what every high school student already knows. The great unspoken, tacit agreement throughout our culture in general and our schools in particular, is that every student can learn every subject at the same level of proficiency. The reality is that in our great land of opportunity, all students may be created equal, but in trigonometry class, differences may easily be observed.
Which small colleges in the Pacific Northwest have a competitive women’s varsity volleyball team and a strong musical theater department? Which Midwestern universities have support for students with learning differences and good Greek life? Which colleges have the best four-year and six-year graduation rates? Which colleges have the highest percentage of alumni contributions? Which liberal arts colleges will take a chance on a hard-working B-/C+ student who is passionate about creative writing?
My wonderful professional organization—the Independent Educational Consultants Association—supports a list serve where these and other obscure questions are answered promptly and graciously. Members support one another and are eager to lend a helping email. Indeed, IECA members claim that there are no “data driven” questions that we can’t answer quickly and accurately.
Imagine a Protestant locked in a dim, dank room with a Catholic. The chairs are hard and uncomfortable, the lighting poor. Outside where the sun is shining, children are frolicking in the surf as their contented parents sip drinks with little umbrellas in them. The protestant and the catholic can come out of the moldy room when one convinces the other, converts him to the contrasting point of view. Until the transition takes place, the protestant and the catholic can talk as long as they like, but can only send out for food from a restaurant whose menu options include grease fried in fat and a puree of toad parts special.
Teachers across the country are being bombarded with the following narrative from well-meaning but horribly misguided parents: “Don’t tell my daughter that she got a ‘B’ on the test. We don’t want to damage her self-esteem. We will help her more with her homework, we promise. It’s just that she’s so delicate and she doesn’t have a good sense of herself because she has an August birthday and her older sister is so much smarter. If our younger daughter finds out that she got a ‘B’ she’ll give up studying and I know you don’t want her to quit on herself. Please tell her she got an ‘A on the test’.”
Not so many years on vacation in Aspen, my parents changed hotel rooms. I forget why although I do remember that this was in the days before cell phones. Connected inadvertently to the room where my folks no longer were, I spoke at length to a Mrs. Stone about her grandchildren, Alabama football, the weather in the mountains, and other gentle concerns of the day. Sensing that we might not agree about politics or religion, we both graciously skirted those potentially disagreeable topics in favor of more congenial connections. We talked about the Rocky Mountain Trail near her hotel, we chatted about the big western sky, we schmoozed about animals wild and domesticated. If I remember correctly, she may have shared with me a recipe for corn muffins. Twenty minutes in to our communication, it occurred to me that I still hadn’t spoken to my parents and that I might be intruding on her vacation. I said, “Mrs.
Not one to name drop but I have to tell you that a buddy of mine is one of the preeminent screen writers in the country. He has sold scripts to Stephen Spielberg; he has written movies that you have seen. “B” is top of the food chain in Hollywood, which is why I believe him when he says that no movie about an underdog sports team that doesn’t win can be produced. (Hey, I’m not going to use the “L” word in a family publication). Go ahead and add your favorites to this list: “Bad News Bears,” “Dodge Ball,” “Space Jam,” “Mighty Ducks,” “Sandlot,” that unwatchable Sylvester Stallone film about soccer. The list is as long as the movies are tedious. To enjoy M*A*S*H, a better film, you have to overlook that the “good” doctors use syringes to incapacitate the other players. In Hollywood films, take it to the bank, the “good” guys always win.
In “A Nice Place to Visit” from the inaugural season of “The Twilight Zone,” Sebastien Cabot welcomes Mr. Valentine, a recently deceased criminal, to a posh hotel suite. “My job is to see you get what you want, whatever it may be,” says the impeccable Cabot who goes on to supply gourmet meals, attractive young women, liquor, and skeins of hundred dollar bills. Mr. Valentine, who killed a little dog and organized street gangs as a child, is surprised; he believes that he must have “done something good to make up for all the bad stuff” to have arrived in heaven. Indeed, every bet he makes at roulette wins; every coin in the slot machine hits the jackpot; every woman to whom he speaks wants to be with him.
I appreciate your patience in allowing these seemingly disparate vignettes to be woven into a workable, if not perfectly seamless, tapestry.
Part 1) The Young Realtor
Realtors who view their clients and their work as an unrelenting series of losses punctuated by rare big hits are unlikely to be satisfied or successful.
Young Realtor: Are you buying a house?
Potential Client Number One: No.
Young Realtor: Are you selling your house?
Potential Client Number Two: No.
Young Realtor: Are you buying a house?
Potential Client Number Three: Yes, but I gave the listing to my mom.
Young Realtor: Are you selling a house?
Potential Client Number Four: Yes, but I hate you and won't give you the listing.
Adrienne is playing cards with his cousin, Melanie. Melanie’s mom watches as the children play, occasionally, pointing to a card in her daughter’s hand, giving advice, or suggesting a play. As the game progresses, Melanie’s mom becomes more involved, more insistent. Ignoring the other adults at the family gathering, she makes constant recommendations and hurls invective at her daughter when the ubiquitous instructions are not followed. Melanie’s mom expresses exasperation when Adrienne makes a good play; she communicates disgust when Melanie does not. In the course of a few minutes, what had been a pleasant children’s game has morphed into the ninth inning of the seventh game of the World Series.
Oh, and one more thing: Melanie is 15. Her cousin, Adrienne, is 8.