Memories of the first day of school

<IMG ALIGN=LEFT ALT=Luke Strosnider BORDER=1 SRC=images_upload/824.lukecolumnpic.jpgDo you remember your first day of school ever? Springing out of bed at the crack of dawn with a toothless grin a mile wide, sliding into your brand-spanking new clothes and thinking, “First grade – at last, I am emancipated from the drudgery of kindergarten!”

No more hours spent learning to tie your shoes or “talking” on the “Flintstones Fun Phone.” Yes … you were going to the big leagues. You had felt a burning in your soul for so long – a primal urge to S-P-E-L-L!

Now, that time was finally at hand. You would show the world you didn’t need anyone – ANYONE – to help you tell time. And as you strutted down the hall toward your classroom, sailing into the great unknown, you thought the adventure would never end.

Here I am, so many years later, stepping into my senior year. And no, I don’t exactly spring out of bed anymore – I slither if I get out of bed at all.

So considering today may well be my LAST first day of school, I want to engage in a time-tested tradition that, for many years, marked the commencement of another school year. Yes, I am going to present you with:

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Grade One

Summer was fun. I rode my bike a lot. My friend Tommy and I went swimming. I played baseball and went to the beach. There was a jellyfish in the ocean and it stung me. A lot. It hurt. My mom made a cake on my birthday. Some days, it was hot outside and I watched “Days of Our Lives.” I learned how to seduce older women and spend their money. Summer was neat.

Oh, what a whimsical summer it was. As you just read, I was a busy young lad. Many, many older women in my town. But a tragic summer as well. Jellyfish – nature’s cruelest beast – sprung from the briny deep to feast on my ankles. It was at this time I learned that applying toothpaste to the sting would soothe the pain. Weird, huh?

That was then and this is now. Here comes a (roughly) accurate and truthful account of the summer of 1998. Because as riveting as the summer before my first year of school was, I had a bit more adventure in the summer before my last year of school:

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Grade 16

This summer I took one of my one-man traveling freak shows on the road, across the pond and to the Old World. Yes, I spent the majority of this summer rumbling across the European countryside with a close friend, in search of answers to questions I’d never even asked.

Or something deep like that. I spent most of my time in southern Germany with stops in Paris, Amsterdam and other towns along the way.

Oh, and I was in Iceland, too. Thanks to the good folks at Icelandair (“serving major cities throughout the world and Valhalla”), I made it safely from Baltimore to Keflavik, Iceland, and then on to Frankfurt, Germany.

Upon arriving in Europe, we set off for Amsterdam, home of the world’s single largest collection of naughty postcards. Not only that, they had quite an assortment of those T-shirts printed with obviously untrue situations. You know the ones I’m talking about – like the pope doing drugs, or the Mona Lisa doing drugs, or the painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel doing drugs. The list goes on and on. C’mon! Who do they take us for?! Everyone knows that the Mona Lisa, while a raging drunk, does NOT take part in such indiscretions.

Paris was beautiful, and full of “colorful” and “annoying” portrait artists who would do anything to make a quick franc. One repeatedly sang the praises of my “beautiful face area” and proclaimed he was “in love” with my “sidelocks.” I assume he was referring to my sideburns. At least I hope he was referring to my sideburns.

I asked him how he got started in the portrait business. Was it a love of the art form? Or perhaps to ensure an ancient craft did not perish?

His answer: “Man, I’m just trying to raise enough money to buy beer.”

‘Nuff said.

As a senior, I’m probably gonna get asked what I’m going to do with my life. That bold Parisian street artist provided me with the perfect witty retort.

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