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Congratulations to the youngest gel for taking part in her first “A-team” swim meet this morning for her club!  She competed in three events – girls’ 9-10 50 m backstroke, 50 m breaststroke and 100 m medley.   She didn’t actually place this time around, but I’m proud of all the effort she has been putting into training all winter, and that it’s being recognized by the coaching staff.

I must say that from a parental perspective, swim meets still strike me as the most inefficient of sporting activities.  One sits about for forty-five minutes just to see the child swim a race that lasts, well, about 1/45th that time.  Then one sits about for another forty-five minutes waiting for her next, brief heat.  And so on.  And so on.

The tedium can be lessened when one knows some of the kids in the other events.  And one can, of course, cheer for one’s team as a whole.  (Go, Green Feet!)  Still, as I sat and looked about me, I began to work up a theory that the (evidently) strong parental volunteer effort – serving as timers, manning concession stands, etc. – had as much to do with folks looking for something, anything, to keep themselves occupied as it did with any sense of team spiritedness.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Whether it was some kind of unconscious association springing from my reference to the Machine in the post below, or else perhaps because I’ve again picked up my copy of Jonah Goldberg’s The Tyranny of Clichés, I couldn’t say, but the fact remains that ol’ Robbo had quite the eeenterestink dream t’other night.

In it (I’m assuming you want to know what happened, if you’ve read this far already), I found myself standing on the street with a group of five or six people.  In fact, I recognized the spot.  For those of you familiar with the Northern Virginny Suburbs, it was Washington Street in Falls Church, between the Leesburg Pike and Great Falls Street.  We had just come out of that little theatre which so often advertises obscure or has-been acts on its marquee.  (The last time I really passed by, I believe Devo was scheduled to play.)

At any rate, we crossed the street to the other side.  Once we got over, however, it occurred to somebody that we had been perfectly safe even though nobody was paying any attention to traffic.   I found myself looking about and noticing a series of blue neon tubes spaced up and down the street every half block or so.  I also noticed that I was wearing some kind of bar-coded bracelet.  From this, we seemed to deduce that there was some kind of intelligent system in place designed specifically for the purpose, in this instance, of making pedestrian crossing safe.  One fellah, I’ll call him Our Hero, decided to test this deduction:  He went back and forth across the street several times.  Even when he deliberately tried to get hit by a car, he couldn’t do so.  They would stop or slow down or swerve.

From this pedestrian crossing safety protocol, I somehow deduced that everything else all around me was being monitored and controlled by the same system.

Suddenly, the scene shifted.  The same group of people were again standing on the side of the road, only now it was a different road, a quieter, more residential one with a large hedge and ditch running along one side.  We had somehow decided that we didn’t like this surveillance/control regime, and were going to “do something” about it.  (What, specifically, I didn’t know.)  To this end, Our Hero and two other men got into the back of a small pickup, which then proceeded to drive up the road and around a bend.  Seemingly an instant later, the pickup came back, rolling to a stop in the ditch next to where we were standing.  The two other passengers appeared to be not only dead, but severely mauled.  Our Hero was alive, but looked as if he’d been roughed up pretty badly.

I started to walk up the road.  Suddenly, a bus came thundering around the bend.  I turned back and called “Bus!”  It went straight to the spot where the pickup was and crashed into it.  A few seconds later, a large tractor came around the bend.  Again, I said, “Tractor!”  It, too, went straight to the pickup.  Only now both the tractor and the bus assumed cartoon form.  They sat back on their rear wheels and began to pummel the pickup with their fist-like front wheels.  However, after a few seconds they seemed to realize that Our Hero was no longer in the pickup.  The tractor and the bus looked at each other with cartoon expressions of puzzlement, and question marks and exclamation points shot from their heads.

After it became clear Our Hero wasn’t there any more, the bus’s doors opened, and a large collection of beings came out.  They were cartoon animals like squirrels and raccoons, together with smiley-faced emoticons.  The group started to fan out and search in a very precise pattern of quartering.

All this time, I’d been kneeling down next to the hedge some yards up the road.  I decided that if this lot was looking for Our Hero, it was most likely looking for all of us associated with him as well, and that it was advisable for me to clear out.  I stood up and started moving away.  And then, as they say, I woke up.

The feeling I came away with was of a feel-good happy werld dystopia that turned absolutely, ruthlessly savage at the slightest dissent or even question.  Why it also morphed into something out of Roger Rabbit, I couldn’t tell you.


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June 2012