Friday, November 23, 2012
Let's face it. The car ride (regardless of its origin or destination) is where most epiphanies occur nowadays. Thunderbolts were once meted out in the pews at St Jude's or at the Nepalese ashram on your tour of self-discovery. But no-one has time for that tom-foolery anymore, so the business of divine intervention has been relegated to sound bites delivered to the moving vehicle.
So it seemed appropriate that I uttered the words "Sweet Jesus!" more than once during this week's car journeys. The fodder, and indeed the ammunition, for my calls to the upper kingdom came from a revelation that is almost too depraved to disclose on these pages.
It involves an unhappy marriage of cash, kiddies and class marks. And here's how it goes:
It started with Number One son, who often communes with the pixies that dwell on a higher plain than either you or I know about. This, generally, renders him incommunicado in relation to any conversations taking part in The Car Ride. However, on this particular day his little pixie ears pricked up like an electrified fuzz ball. He had heard an apparently magic combination of words coming together: money and marks. Unhappily, I had been recounting the story of a fellow parent who had resorted to paying cash money as an incentive for their child to come home with something better than a D on the report card. The merits of this method were yet to be proven but this woman was quietly confident that she'd unlocked the holy grail of the pre-pubescent psyche, tapped into the machinations of the juvenile mind. I, of course, scoffed and dismissed the whole caper as tantamount to bribery and got on my high horse about morals, ethics and the foundations of building one's character.
Disturbingly, however, my very own Youth seemed inordinately interested in this scandalous concept. The idea that they might try just a little bit harder and for their troubles receive a monetary gain seemed to fill them with delight. In fact, I can't recall the last time I saw the Car Ride become as animated as it did on this morning.
Many weeks of attempted bargaining ensued between the Driver's Seat and the Back Stalls to no avail until I conceded with a plea bargain. I informed them that bribery was the lowest stratum of negotiation and that something a little more high-brow might be appropriate - a bet, for example. And so I bet them that they wouldn't be able to get As. Dollar amounts were discussed. Figures with three digits were bandied about. And now the challenge is on. A bit like the challenge I set last week in which I agreed, without proviso, that I would buy The Young Man a a dog if he got the gold medal at fitness club (knowing full well that a gold medal requires one to front up 100 times for the year and that our Young Friend had only enough days left to achieve a total of 89). That's where mathematics comes in handy for us misanthropic types.
And so, next week, the school reports will be winging their way to our letterbox. I suspect I know the outcomes, but I am most willing to open my wallet to be proven wrong.
And all this talk of marks had me reminiscing on the words of a witty pal of mine:
"Two dons are sitting, basking nude in their sun chairs in a grassy quadrangle at Oxford University on a summer's afternoon. They talk philosophy. Thomas Aquinas, Rene Descartes, Plato, Aristotle. Then one of them turns to the other and says, "Have you read Marx?", to which the other replies, "Oh yes, these wicker chairs are killing me."