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Rule 11

Rule 11

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Published by Tom Upton
An excerpt from 101 Rules to Survive a Crazy Life
An excerpt from 101 Rules to Survive a Crazy Life

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Published by: Tom Upton on Oct 19, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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11/09/2010

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Rule 11. Never let your parent drop you off at school 
´There·s a big yellow thing. It stops in front of the house every day. It·s called aschool bus.µBut my parents insisted on driving me to school that morning. I didn·t know  why. I·d just started my junior year. I always took the bus. So why did they want todrop me off now?Really, I thought that parents, from time to time, contract some kind of virus, a virus that causes unusual behavior. I called that virus Brady-Bunch-itis. Once they catch it, they have the urge to do really wholesome things, like having the entire family sit at the table and eat dinner
at the same time 
, or going to an orchard and picking apples, or singing carols door-to-door at Christmas time. Or like driving yourdaughter to school when a perfectly good school bus stops on the street at the end of your driveway at 8:10 every morning. The problem was that my parents weren·t like that. Brady-Bunch-itis in thempresented itself as a type of psychosis. But what could I do? I was sixteen years old. Inthe eyes of the law, I was still their property. So I grabbed my backpack, and let themdrop me off, hoping that whatever was going through their systems went through fastand I didn·t have to endure this tomorrow morning as well.Our mini-van was in the shop for a new transmission. So they had to use my dad·s work truck. It was one of those small Chevys. It only had two seats, so, yeah,mom and dad got the seats, and I had to ride in the truck bed with dad·s tools.
 
D
ad always wore a Texas Ranger baseball cap. No matter how worn and ratty the cap got, he refused to part with it. Nobody really knew why. He was no fan of theRangers, or of baseball in general. As far as anybody knew he had never even been to Texas.For as long as I could remember, he had worked as a handyman. It wasn·t thathe couldn·t do anything else. It was his calling in life: to fix little things aroundpeoples· houses. He was proud of his occupation, too, which often led my mom tosay that dad was walking proof that marijuana kills brain cells. Apparently dad hadbeen quite a pothead in the day.Mom was even harder to figure out than dad. She worked part-time at the locallibrary and shushed noisy visitors. That was her job. She was good at shushing. Herjoy, though, was knitting. She was always knitting around the house during her freetime. She·d start dinner, and then go back to her knitting until dinner was done. She·dsit in the living room and watch baseball games while she knit. She knit when she wassick, or couldn·t sleep at night. She knit spring, summer, autumn, and winter³ especially in winter when she knitted stocking caps for everybody she knew. Whenshe ran out of people she knew, she knitted stocking caps and dropped them down atthe homeless shelter so that poor, disadvantaged people would at least have warmheads.On the way to school that morning, dad drove like a maniac, and mom sat inthe passenger seat knitting. I bounced around in the truck bed with two five-gallonbuckets of Sheetrock. My hair whipped around wildly in the cool early autumn wind.By the time I reached school it would look as though I was wearing a bird·s nest onmy head. When we were stopped at a red light, I leaned toward the driver window andsuggested to dad that he drop me off a block away from the school.
 
´A block away?µ he called back. ´Why would you possibly want to walk when Ican drop you right at the front of the school?µI started thinking that mom was right about that whole dead brain cell thing.
D
ad stopped the truck directly in front of the school, where throngs of kids were heading toward the front doors.I jumped out of the back of the truck. I didn·t have the courage to let anybody see me saying goodbye to my parents. I started for the long walkway that led towardthe doors, trying to blend quickly with the other kids.For a second, I thought I would be all right. I got the warm cozy feeling youget when you·re surrounded by your peers, so that you lose your individuality andbecome just one anonymous face in the crowd. Then I heard my dad calling from behind me.´SARAH!«SARAH!«SARAH!«µ I shuttered. Although I didn·t want to,I looked back over my shoulder.
D
ad was standing on the running board, peering over the roof of the truck, and waving his arm back and forth like somebody stranded on a desert island trying tosignal a rescue plane. I could see mom sitting in the passenger seat. She was looking out the side window, a strange smile on her face. Although I couldn·t see her hands, Iknew they were still working the knitting needles.´SARAH!«SAAAAR-RAAAH!µI thought I was all right. Mine was a medium-sized country high school; theremust have about thirty other girls named Sarah. I hugged my backpack to my chest,and keep heading for the doors. The kids around me started to look back over their shoulders. I looked back,too, just one in a crowd who was wondering,
ho in the heck are those people anyway? 
 Atthat moment, I saw my parents through the eyes of the other kids: they looked likeForrest Gump and Madame
D
eFarge.

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LauraNovak added this note
Ah, the true Tale of Two Cities. Your ability to assume the voice of your narrator astounds me. Just when I wondered where you've been, you turn up with another stunning piece of writing. I so enjoy your work. It's truly admirable how you turn out such tight, clever stories.
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