The Fine Arts Dinner

What could be better than going to the Fine Arts Dinner at the local elementary school for three hours on one of the first Fridays of the spring with awesome weather? How about Mom bidding $50 over the minimum bid on the most expensive item in the silent action? It was a painting. By the kids. That is now hanging above our mantle. Here’s a pic:


Looks very 70’s to me. Anyway, the Fine Arts Dinner last Friday entailed dinner and performances by the students. And – bonus – we were in the gym. The dinner consisted of pork and chicken along with dinner rolls, a salad, and some other stuff I don’t remember. Oh, and homemade cake pops. The pork was surprisingly good. The chicken was expectedly dry. Salad? Good. Cakepops? Awesome. Bails had four.

After dinner we were treated to selected songs from the school’s production of Grease. I thought this was fairly brave. Not on our part for listening but on the teacher’s part for having a whole boatload of 5th and 6th graders take on Grease. The girls came home after the initial performance and said they loved it! So much that they wanted to go out and rent Grease so they could watch the movie. I figured nearly all of the sexual innuendo would go over their heads but what really surprised me was that they hadn’t already seen it. I mean hasn’t everybody pretty much seen it? I was just 8 when I saw it back in the summer of ’78 when it originally came out. Completely warped my idea of what high school was going to be like until I watched Porky’s. Which again skewed my theories on how my high school years would unfold. Until finally I saw Sixteen Candles and Red Dawn which got it all straightened out. Notwithstanding my expectations for the years in between and including 1984 and 1988, I guess it shouldn’t come as all that much of a revelation that someone has not seen Grease. I recently learned that there are actual Americans roaming this great nation of ours that have never seen Star Wars. I’m completely serious.

How do you go through childhood without the Empire and the Rebellion as reference points? Without Luke, Darth Vader and Han Solo anchoring your definitions of good, evil and smartassery?

But then again I just had a conversation at work with some early 30-somethings about who Tony Manero and Sonny Crockett are. Or were, I guess. They, and I’m not exaggerating, had no idea. None. I had to say “Don Johnson” to even get a nod of recognition. Rico Tubbs? Blank stares. Rick and AJ? Nothing. Carmine Ragusa…aka The Big Ragoo? Crickets. Joanie loving Chachi? The Regal Beagal? TJ Freaking Hooker!? It’s like I was talking to an empty depressing wasteland. A wilderness void of any knowledge gathered from the Carter and Reagan administrations.

Regardless of the alarmingly high rate of Gen Y idiocy at my place of employment, it didn’t change the fact that I spent my Friday evening at an elementary school watching 11 year-olds sing “Summer Loving” and “Beauty School Drop Out.” To be completely honest, the kids did a great job. Far better than I could have done. I mean if I had the guts to actually sing in front of people about girls when I was 11.

The girl who sang “Beauty School Drop Out” really could sing. Afterwards, we were treated to performances by the orchestra and the band. The 6th grade orchestra, the 5th and 6th grade orchestra, the 6th grade band, the 5th and 6th grade band, the school’s chorus and then there was the well-meaning teacher who felt the need to fill the time between performances with comments. Well, they are probably more accurately described as annotations. Because every 5th and 6th grade musical needs footnotes. To be as polite as possible, they were unnecessary. Like anything said by Joe Biden. I mean all you have to do is introduce who is performing. Done. We don’t need backstory. I’m already trying to follow the 2nd round of the NFL Draft on my phone and I want to avoid distractions. Robert Woods and Kevin Minter both went off the board before the Steelers picked. So I was thinking they might take Keenan Allen or even reach for Jonathan Franklin. Proving once again that the Steelers are smarter than me, they took LeVeon Bell! Great pick. Sadly though Ozzie Newsome in Baltimore is a freaking draft genius. Dude just keeps making the Ravens better.

Being at the school was a distinct change from where I watched the last half of the First Round of the Draft however. Have you ever been to Twin Peaks? It’s a restaurant. They market their “Eats, drinks and scenic views.” The scenic views are the wait staff and bartenders who wear really short shorts and what is essentially a bikini top with a lumberjack pattern. Or the same pattern Lamar Alexander wore during his failed 1996 bid for the GOP presidential nomination. And their beer is chilled to 29 degrees. So its really cold. However, and I’m just spitballin’ here, I don’t think anybody is going to Twin Peaks for the coldness of the beer. But when you pretty much leave the location determination to two of the single guys in the league, this is where you end up.

So here’s the thing. I’m married with three daughters. Which means I’m living with four women. In college that would have been freaking awesome. Now? Not so much. I don’t really have a bathroom and nobody shares my appreciation for Fletch quotes. Now you add girls in their late teens and early to mid 20’s barely dressed. Me in college would have thought this was the best damn Friday night ever. Now? Its just dudes in their mid-40’s flirting and taking pics with girls in their late teens and early to mid 20’s. Tad bit creepy.

I also was told that the hostess was too young to serve alcohol which meant she was probably 17. My oldest daughter is 13. I’ve often said perspective is a wonderful teacher. And my perspective is that I am mentally unprepared for teenage girls. Mostly because I remember being a teenage boy.

Which brings me back to the Fine Arts Dinner. As I’ve become an adult, a husband and a father I’ve learned, often the hard way, that lapsing back into being a teenage boy becomes less acceptable. Not everyone thinks farts are funny, the versatile uses for the f-bomb aren’t appropriate and selfishness is regarded as you being an a-hole not simply part of the maturation process. As they are doing the silent auction, it became apparent that these fine educators had never done a silent auction or anything remotely related to one in any way. So it took far longer than it needed to take. While I’m standing there holding a couple music books, my phone displaying what is now the 3rd round of the NFL Draft and a violin, I keenly observed, in a totally self-congratulatory kind of way, that I’m am so much better at being a grown-up than I used to be. Back my late 20’s this kind of thing would have led to an impressive display of self-absorption and annoyance. I actually said, “Hey, I am way better at this stuff than I used to be. If this was 1999 I would be bitching up a freaking super storm.”

Instead I write this blog.

In the interest of full disclosure, teenage me, college me and Dad me do share at least one thing in common. Miller Lite. After getting back from the dinner, my neighbor is in his garage repainting his cabinet doors. He’s pretty handy and far more ambitious than myself. He asks how the dinner went. I respond by walking up his driveway, past the him and his cabinet doors, right to the fridge in his garage. It was then when I decided to liberate several Miller Lites from said fridge.

Rest of the night went pretty well.