Thursday, December 09, 2010

Thinking is a Good Thing, Usually

There are times things just do not make sense to me. I was blithely wandering through my usual World Wide Web stops when off to the side an advertisement caught my eye (actually both eyes). Since we are officially in the Christmas shopping season there are lots of ads with a Kris Kringle theme to them. This was no exception. There was a rather wide-eyed Santa looking out at me and he had a hand extended offering a festively wrapped package. Was this an ad for a toy company aimed at parents of those most excited sugar plum visionaries? Nope. Was it an ad for a jewelry store aimed at those mostly clueless men in need of gift ideas for the lovely ladies in their lives? Sorry, wrong again. The words next to the Father Christmas image read: U.S. Weapons Collectors, Big Gun and Knife Show and Sale. Yeah, of course it did.

Nothing says peace on earth and good will towards men like packing the kind of firepower making it impossible for anyone short of an entire platoon of Navy Seals to show you anything remotely different than good will, safely. I should look on the bright side. At least the picture of Santa had him holding a colorful box and not Rambo’s belt-loading machine gun as he happily used his eight tiny reindeer as his eight tiny reinskeet.

If the previous paragraphs indicated I am a pacifist you would be right, but more than that I am a scaredy cat. Some people stand at the top of a giant hill covered with snow holding a sled imagining the wind in their hair and the exhilaration associated with picking up speed as they hurtle down the slope. I use my rather prodigious prediction powers to envision the compound fracture of my tibia when I strike the lone oak tree at the bottom of this track of death.

I was even like that as a child (just ask Rob, my best friend, it made him crazy). This character trait actually comes in handy in my grown up job, principal at an elementary school. It helps to jump to worst case scenarios to head off possible injury and mayhem and three hundred kids under the age of 11 are rife with injury and mayhem potential.
A couple of days ago it was downright cold as kids were arriving at school. There was easily twenty yards of sidewalk between the bus drop off point and the front doors. Within that space there were two patches of ice about four inches by four inches. As soon as one person spotted these tiny areas of danger dozens of them headed straight for them. Not to worry gentle reader, Worst Case Scenario Principal Guy was on the job. I had already positioned myself to block the students from the sure pain and suffering if they had been allowed to do their less than able Brian Boitano impressions on these insidious frozen spots.

It seems to me more people are like the kids who sought out the ice than are like me and imagine lacerations and ER visits. Really, I think if I had strategically placed multiple razor sharp machetes in the hallway a number of kids would have immediately started juggling them.

On the other hand, it is quite possible I over think things and not just about danger. This was shown to me the other day in a conversation I had with a kindergarten student. She flagged me down in the cafeteria and beckoned me to lean closer. Often this means I will be listening to either a long explanation of what her cat did last night or an equally long description of how another student in her class was guilty of some minor transgression that she felt merited retribution from the big mean principal. Not this time.

She asked a simple question. “Why do we put up Christmas trees?” Then I responded in my own inimitable manner with a long-winded response designed to give her the full edifying experience available to her. “The full origin of the Christmas tree is not really known but it probably started in Germany from a story about St. Boniface. It really became a Christmas tradition starting in the 18th century.”

After she blinked away the glaze from her eyes she responded to my lecture. “You put up Christmas trees because it’s almost Christmas.” The next words were left unspoken but her expression made them awfully clear: “you silly old man.”

Christopher Pyle finds his imagination is a double edged sword and both sides are really really sharp and he is afraid to touch it because he is sure he will lose a finger. He can be contacted at