This week our daughter graduated from high school. I have to say, this has been one of the most wonderful weeks of my life. In the days leading up to the graduation, we got out all those old photos and finally started to paste them down in the photo albums. We kept saying to each other how lucky we were to have her in our lives and how much we are going to miss her when she goes away to school. Have any of you gone through this yet? Painful!! This all went by way too fast.
We gathered up her early artwork, poems and short stories from grade school, and shared them with our families who came from Flint to participate in this event. We sat around reminiscing over things like how one of the first words she learned to say was "NO!." When toddlers learn that word, it's funny how quick they catch on to how much we adults don't like it. "No!" "No!" "No!" It drives us crazy. We decided at the time that maybe "no" was an important word for them to learn, that we live in a world which expects them to constantly say "yes" and to do what they are told. She still had to do what she was told (well, most of it), but one of those things she was told by us was that "No!" is a "good word."
So, we let her say it to us, to teachers, to those in authority -- and, by the time she neared 18, she was her own person, living her own life, not going along with the crowd, but ending up being the sweetest and kindest teenager you would want to meet.
Ok, ok, I know, we sound like the doting parents who can't stop yappin' about their kids, but we do feel truly blessed. When we were in school, creativity and individuality were the signs that the school administration looked for to identify the "troublemakers." It became clear to me sometime around 10th grade that this institution was not really set up for us to learn the "3 R's", but rather the "3C's": Consistency, Complacency, and Conformity. I so hated school that one day I picked up the paper and it said that 18-year olds had now been given the right to vote. I called up the the county clerk to find out if that also meant the right to run for office -- say, school board. He said, "Yes, it does."
So I took out a petition to put my name on the ballot, and six weeks later I became one of the youngest persons ever elected to public office in the country. My platform? Remove the principal and assistant principal from the high school.
Four days after my election, it was my graduation day. It was a bit weird that week, walking through the halls of the high school as both a student (servant) and the boss of the principals. As we stood in line to go out onto the field to collect our diplomas, the assistant principal grabbed a kid and yanked him out of the line.
"Where's your tie?!" he barked.
"I'm wearing one," the student replied.
"THIS is NOT a tie!" said the assistant principal, holding up the string bolero tie had on underneath his gown. "Get out of here!"
The assistant principal took him by the arm and led him out of the school. We all stood there stunned by what we had just witnessed. A few of us started to protest and he asked us if we, too, would also like to be sent packing. So we got back in line and went out to the ceremony. This kid's parents and grandparents sat up in the stands waiting for their son's name to be called as he walked proudly across the stage to receive his diploma. But that moment never came. Concerned with his whereabouts, they went out to the parking lot where they found him in the back seat of their car, curled up in a ball, and crying his eyes out.
That's what I remember from my graduation -- and the fact that within eight months I was later able to convince my fellow school board members to remove this assistant principal and the head principal from their positions.
The other big news of the week just arrived in the mail. It is a letter from GQ magazine in Britain. It reads:
"We are delighted to inform you that you have been nominated in the INTERNATIONAL MAN OF THE YEAR category in the 1999 British "GQ Men of the Year Awards..."
I sat and stared at this thing for a while, wondering if this was somebody's idea of a practical joke. I think it is safe to say that if you think of GQ as god, then that would make me the anti-christ. Assuming I'm not stuck in that Star Trek episode where I have been transported to the planet where everything is the mirror opposite of what happens on earth, how has this nomination come to be?
Obviously, we've concluded, a fan of the show works in the graphics department of GQ and snuck my name in there just before sending it to the printer, hoping no one would notice (the rest of the nominees -- the real ones -- include Tom Cruise, George Lucas and U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan!).
So everyone here at the show thought we should join in on the subversion. Should I actually win, the letter states, GQ will take my picture and not only put it in the magazine but blow it up and hang it over Picadilly Circus in London. Because I will be wearing nothing but my K-Mart jeans with the taco sauce stain and J.C. Penny black t-shirt with hole in it, we are convinced this will ruin GQ.
To get me named International GQ Man of the Year, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org that says, " I would like to vote for Michael Moore in the International Man of the Year category." All e-mails must be received by June 30, 1999.
This will be my first electoral victory since winning school board when I was 18. And if elected International GQ Man of the Year, I promise to make "The Awful Truth" available to all, cable or no cable.
PS. In the meantime, our show that airs this Sunday has a piece on Ted Turner and a segment on Nazi gold in Swiss banks. "Teen Sniper School", as mentioned in last week's letter, has been removed by the network.
Also, if you want to catch up on last week's controversial story, you can watch our "American Apartheid" segment in a rerun of the show tonight (Friday) at 10pm &1am ET and 7pm & 10pm PT.
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