If you could blame my column on any one thing (other than Satan), blame it on the fact that I received my formal education in the 1960's. Had I attended school today, I'd be illiterate.
No way would I have survived today's stupid school rules. Case in point: the Tacoma, Wash., mother outraged last week because her children were sunburned on a school field trip.
Note: This news story could have been fabricated. Of the roughly 100 days total I've spent in the Pacific Northwest, the actual sun was only visible on two of them.
Anyway, unbeknownst to the mother, the school field trip was to Chernobyl. Her two fair-skinned daughters came home looking like they'd been boiled.
As it turned out, not only were the girls not permitted to bring sunscreen to school without a doctor's permit, they couldn't have borrowed any while they were there. The school has a zero tolerance policy on any kind of drugs, including over-the-counter sunscreen.
Remember that 48 other states, including this one, have the same general rule about sunscreen.
Washington also has a zero tolerance policy on guns, including inch-long G.I. Joe guns. In 1997 and 2006, the state made the news when grade-school boys were suspended for bringing toy guns belonging to toy action figures to school.
It sounds incredibly picky. It probably is. But ever wonder why schools have such stupid rules? I do. Some of it is because of lawyers. The rest of it is because they had kids like me and my friends.
In fifth grade, my friend Leon lugged his father's 30.06 rifle to school for show-and-tell. He also brought a live bullet for display purposes.
When I stopped by Leon's house that morning, I showed him the hornet's nest I had in a paper sack. The sack also contained half a dozen not entirely dead hornets, but that part came later.
Wanting to upstage my hornet's nest, Leon got his father's gun, the bullet and off we went. We walked three-quarters of a mile through fields and along public streets with this rifle, and then upstairs to room No. 205 at Garfield Elementary School.
Know what happened? Mrs. Hall put the gun in the coat closet and told Leon that his father would have to come and get it. She didn't freak out, seek therapy or even tell the principal. She was a lot more excited about the hornets later.
This column isn't long enough to list all the things my friends and I brought to school that would cause a lock down today. The worst that ever happened was our parents got called.
In my case, it was for fireworks, shotgun primers, a cartridge from a teargas pen, two live German Luger bullets, a machete, a pocket knife with spoon attachment, a flare gun, a human bone, assorted reptiles and a bottle of what I claimed was camel urine but was really just apple juice. A girl named Nancy threw up when I drank some.
That's all I remember from fifth grade. Things didn't really get out of hand until sixth grade. And if you think I'm making any of this up, ask my mom.
I'm lucky. Had any of that happened under today's zero tolerance policies, I'd be suspended from school until the federal deficit disappeared.
I would have had to learn reading and writing on my own while medicated and in a holding pen somewhere.
Are schools safer today under these strict policies? I don't know. I suppose it all depends on what scares you. It didn't used to be so many things.