Here's a random story that I suddenly remembered today:
When I was a fourth-grade nothing, growing up in Houston, my best friend's name was John Estrada. He and I were pretty sure that we were the funniest kids in America and spent the vast majority of our time making each other laugh so hard we couldn't breathe. Indeed, that's what we were doing on Texas Physical Fitness Day, rather than sit-ups.
I have no idea whether there is or ever was such a thing as Texas Physical Fitness Day. It could very easily have been something that our P.E. teacher made up, knowing that we would participate in just about anything if its official name had the word "Texas" in it. This trick doesn't just work on brainwashed little children who stand before the Texas and U.S. flags (in that order, thank you) and sing "Eyes of Texas" every morning, it works on Texans of all ages. The image of Texas is printed on beer labels. They don't put a picture of the state of California on beer bottles in the Golden State. They sure as hell don't do it here -- the closest we get to localized advertising are offers from our "Northland Ford Dealers." As best I can tell, "Northland" encompasses North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin. But in Texas, boy, Texas sells. Take the most intense display of patriotism you've seen in your life, multiply it by 10, and you've got most Texans' attitude toward their beloved state.
But that's neither here nor there, because John and I weren't doing our sit-ups*. Perhaps this was foreshadowing the fact that I would eventually join such a God-hating profession as journalism. John, of course, was a damned Hispanic.
Our P.E. teacher, clearly upset at out blatant disrespect toward an activity which had incorporated the name of the Lone Star State, stormed over and shouted at us in her dead-dog breath (ironically, she stank of cigarettes) that we had to do our sit-ups and she was going to sit there and watch us do them -- as many as we could do in a minute. We probably managed about 20 giggling sit-ups each.
"I want you to know that because of your behavior, those won't count," the teacher said.
"What the hell did we do them for, then?" I asked.
I was promptly sent to the principal office to be hit five times with a paddle.
One of these things is not like the other.
I think I will try to be here for the summer solstice this year.
It's not catching on with me. Well, unless you're talking about this -- that's just plain fun. They should turn it into a waterslide.
*Old-style sit-ups that they now say are bad for you.