My boring life, for all to see

January 09, 1995|By KEVIN COWHERD

If I could offer one piece of advice to you moms and dads planning to speak at your kid's Career Day class, it would be jTC this: Never follow a policeman.

Believe me on this one. Following a cop breaks the time-honored Theorem of Career Day Presentations, which states:

a) Kids are fascinated by cops.

b) They find every other job hopelessly dull by comparison.

So unless you're an astronaut or a Power Ranger following that cop, be prepared to see the whole class yawning and staring out the window as you die a horrible, sweat-soaked death at the blackboard.

This is basically what happened to me the other morning when I spoke to a third-grade class on Career Day.

Initially I was radiating confidence -- at least until I walked into the classroom and noticed the other speaker, when I remember thinking: My life is over.

Because in this case, not only was the other speaker a policeman, he was also a SWAT team member.

That means he was dressed in one of those black Ninja-type outfits, with the hood and boots, the whole nine yards.

To make matters worse, the guy had brought along all sorts of neat visual aids: sniper rifles, pistols, bulletproof vests, Mace, handcuffs.

What was I going to show the class -- a ballpoint pen?

At this point, my only hope was that the teacher would let me speak first.

That way I could put the class to sleep and get out before the cop started speaking, at which time it would become even more apparent just how boring I had been.

Naturally, this hope was quickly extinguished when the teacher said: "Officer Charleston has a very important assignment to get to. You don't mind if he speaks first, do you?"

"Oh, absolutely not," I said.

For a moment, I considered killing the teacher right there.

But with that goody-goody Officer Charleston in the room, my chances of getting away with it weren't too good.

Anyway, Officer Charleston got up there and naturally he dazzled the class from the get-go.

First he told them about all the training that went into his job: his hours on the rifle range and obstacle course, how he learned to rappel down the sides of buildings, his work with the bomb squad, etc.

Then he told all these great stories about hostage situations he'd helped defuse and deranged gunmen he and his squad had captured.

Then he showed the kids his weapons and the bulletproof vest and everything else. He even handcuffed a couple of kids together.

Yes, he was a big hit, Officer Charleston was.

At the end of his talk, the kids were clapping and cheering and asking him for autographs.

Their little eyes were glowing and their little cheeks were flushed, and as I watched the little brats, one thought kept going through my head: "There is no hope -- I'm doomed."

Now it was my turn to speak.

"Well," the teacher said, "I'm sure our next speaker will be every bit as entertaining as our last speaker."

"Don't count on it, pal," I thought.

Anyway, I started off by giving them 10 minutes of drivel about what a columnist does, how the columnist crafts his column on the word processor, where he gets his ideas, blah, blah, blah.

It was so boring that even I was having problems staying awake.

At one point, I actually caught myself nodding off in mid-sentence, which none of the kids seemed to mind since many of them were asleep, too.

Then I opened the floor to questions.

The first was from a charming little boy in the front row, who asked: "Were you ever a policeman?"

"Uh . . . no," I said.

Obviously we were off to a fine start.

The second question came from a little girl with freckles.

"Did you ever want to be a policeman?"

Clearly, the kids had been riveted by my descriptions of a life in journalism.

For a moment, I considered asking the teacher if we could all jump onto a bus and try to catch up with Officer Charleston, in lieu of my spending the rest of the class answering police-related questions.

Which is pretty much what I ended up doing, to the point where the kids were practically calling me Officer Kevin.

I told the teacher I'd be back for Career Day next year.

But this, fortunately, was a lie.

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