Last Night’s Homework
Jan. 21, 1992.
Mrs. Jonesâ€™ class, second period, St. Thomas Aquinas High School. She taught college level economics and had these absurdly hard-as-fuck tests. Youâ€™d show up to class, take the test, then return at the end of the day and spend another two hours just to finish it. This was the first big one.
That night, my friend Brent calls me and asks what Iâ€™m doing.
â€œI think Iâ€™m going to watching some TV,â€ I answer.
â€œThe State of the Union?â€
â€œFuck, no. I couldnâ€™t care less what that jackoff has to say. I think Apocalypse Now is on.â€
â€œYeah, Iâ€™m not watching it either. I think Apocalypse Now has a happier ending. What channel is it on?â€
â€œ39, I think.â€
Brent and I bullshit for a considerable length of time, while we both watch Martin Sheen spaz out in Vietnam. Cool.
Jan. 22, 1992
Mrs. Jonesâ€™ class. Sheâ€™s asking a lot of questions about the State of the Union. Not surprisingly, Brent and I are quiet about the subject. Unfortunately, so is the rest of the class, much to her chagrin. Finally she gets fed up and asks, â€œOkay, who did not watch the State of the Union last night?â€
Shit, I know the answer to that question. My hand shoots up. She looks at me with mixed shock and bewilderment.
â€œShawn, why didnâ€™t you watch it?â€
This is getting easy. Two questions in a row. â€œI didnâ€™t think heâ€™d say anything important.â€
The girl in front of me, Stacy Somethingorother â€“ lots of faux curly Aquanet/Sun-In blond hair in a scrunchee â€“ turns around with this well-rehearsed look of mock contempt and appall at my clear lack of respect for our mentor. It was so well-rehearsed, I think Stacy Somethingorother even believed it. Maybe it wasnâ€™t rehearsed so much as genetically inherited from all of the years her parents gave her the same look whenever she opened her mouth at the yacht club. But I digress.
Mrs. Jones asked, â€œSo you didnâ€™t do last nightâ€™s homework?â€
â€œWhat homework?â€ I had my nose in a fucking test for three hours, you daft fucking bitch. You didnâ€™t teach. What the fuck are you possibly going to give us homework on?!
â€œI wrote on the board to watch the State of the Union last night.â€
Jan. 20, 2004
I havenâ€™t watched the State of the Union since. My plans for the evening are to go home on the rare night off and find the least productive thing I can. Give my brain a vacation. Itâ€™s about time I give the State of the Union a shot. So, I kick back with a pad and paper, and do the homework I was assigned 12 years ago.
The notes from last nightâ€™s/decadeâ€™s homework assignment.
9:07 W. enters. Lots of applause and handshakes.
9:10 Theyâ€™re still applauding. The Speaker of the House actually needs to read a piece of paper for the one sentence it takes to introduce the (sic) Commander-in-Chief.
9:11 W. starts talking. Says the words â€œWar on Terrorâ€ and â€œsecureâ€. Millions around the world drink.
9:12 â€œAmericans are the hardest working people in the world.â€ Iâ€™m assuming weâ€™re talking about the ones with jobs. Are we including sweatshops in southeast Asia? Do NAFTA factories in Mexico count, because theyâ€™re indirectly working for American companies?
9:13 â€œMedicareâ€ said for the first time. There are going to be a lot of hungover people at work tomorrow morning.
9:13 Dick Cheney drinks water, while W. still talks. Impressive.
9:14 â€œThe State of the Union is strong.â€ Standing ovation. Um, okay.
9:14 W. said â€œSeptember 11â€ for the first time. It’s been three minutes. I think thatâ€™s a record.
9:15 Standing ovation. There is a fucking shitload of political celebrities in the room. I havenâ€™t seen this many famous people in the same room since Circus of the Stars, that annual TV extravaganza where theyâ€™d get all those 2-bit TV celebrities to do circus acts. I remember being gripped to my chair, promised that Peter Scolari would be on, and he was! (Scolari was on my favorite show, Bosom Buddies. Fuck off, I was six.) He did the chair stacking bit. He even wore one of those ridiculous acrobat unitards. It was awesome. He stood on a chair. Someone would throw him another, and heâ€™d stack it, climb it, and repeat the process. They should do that here. I want to see Tommy Thompson shoot out of a cannon.
9:16 â€œPatriot Actâ€¦ [is] important for hunting criminals [and] terrorists.â€ Camera take to Ashcroft. I want to see him shot at by a cannon.
9:17 â€œâ€¦key provisions [to the Patriot Act] are set to expire next year.â€ One, no two, no a whole bunch of people are applauding! I donâ€™t think W. planned an applause break there.
9:18 Mentioned â€œnukularâ€, biological, and chemical weapons, but didnâ€™t mention Iraq in the same sentence.
9:20 The â€œpeople of Iraq are freeâ€, but didnâ€™t mention WMD in the same sentence. Standing ovation. Mentioned â€œHusseinâ€ and â€œholeâ€ in the same sentence. Standing ovation.
9:21 I am so glad Iâ€™m single. If I werenâ€™t, I couldnâ€™t be spending my Tuesday night doing this. Iâ€™d be forced to do something else, like having a conversation, or fostering a binding relationship, or having sex. But without a girlfriend, I donâ€™t have anyone to get on my back about doing selfish things. I am a free man, to live my life exactly how I want. I can party all night, and I donâ€™t have to pack a toothbrush. Yes, I can even watch the State of the Union. Thank you God, for reminding me how fulfilling my life is as a single, disease-free adult without a criminal record.
9:23 â€œThe United States of America will never be intimidated by thugs and assassins.â€ Standing ovation. Iâ€™ll remember that when theyâ€™re reading my rights, and the dipshit court appointed attorney is trying to explain which part of the Patriot Act I got busted on.
9:24 First stumble of the night. On the word â€œdestructionâ€ in â€œWeapons of Mass Destruction.â€ He canâ€™t say the word without fucking it up. This is Godâ€™s little hint to all of us. BTW, he was talking about Libya, not Iraq.
9:25 â€œNo one can now doubt the word of America.â€ I canâ€™t believe I just wrote that.
9:27 mollyq calls. Sheâ€™s taking a smoke break. W. says, â€œWar on Terror.â€ Perhaps stepping outside is a good idea. She asks what Iâ€™m doing.
â€œWatching the State of the Union.â€
â€œBecause 12 years ago, instead of watching the State of the Union, I talked to my friend on the phone.â€
â€œWho all is at this thing?â€
â€œPut it this way. If you wanted to not just fuck up the chain of command, but delete it entirely except for two House reps and two Senators, this would be the place and time to do it.â€
9:37 Still talking to mollyq, I pop in. Heâ€™s STILL talking about terror in the Middle East. I go back outside.
9:57 I pop back in. Heâ€™s talking about respecting the â€œinstitution of marriage.â€ The right side of the room gives a standing ovation, while the left side staunchly remains seated and unmoved. Obviously, the Dems and Reps are sitting 8th grade dance style, boys on one side, girls on the other. I go crazy â€“ this, I declare, is the high point. mollyq asks me to explain. â€œBasically, heâ€™s saying that marriage is a federal law, so no state can authorize gay marriages.â€
â€œGreat,â€ she says sarcastically.
Actually I think it is great, because for a moment, I hope that (like everything this shithead does) he repeats the old manâ€™s re-election platform, runs the family morals thing into the ground, and he gets clobbered at the polls trying to tell everyone how to live their lives.
10:02 Off the phone. W.â€™s talking about a letter from a girl (Ashley Pearson), â€œaged two â€“ aged 10â€. Iâ€™m assuming someone read the letter to him. Throughout the evening, there are three poor military fuckwits who were dragged to this thing so the American people can see what poor military fuckwits look like. One white male, one white female, one black male. Every time military prowess is celebrated in this speech and there is a standing ovation, the cameras point to the trio. The black guy is now barely touching his palms amidst the applause, and has instead replaced cheering his Commander by shaking his head back and forth and yawning.
10:04 â€œGod,â€ â€œbless,â€ and â€œAmericaâ€ said in same sentence. He closed the book that he wasnâ€™t reading his speech from. He does not remind everyone to tip their wait staff.