I didn’t Do It!

Don’t Blame Me!

            It is possible to get a Volkswagen up the front steps of Rammelkamp Chapel. It takes some doing and about eight big guys to do the lifting, but if you carefully map the route of IC’s night watchman, drive the VW through the northeast gate (now frustratingly gated against Volkswagens and families of four walking abreast), then lift the Beetle step by step up the north approach, you can greet the Wednesday morning chapel crowd with the sight of a bright yellow German automobile blocking the front entrance. It can be done.

But let me make one thing perfectly clear: I was not to blame. I didn’t do it. I was simply brought along as an advisor since I’d once supervised the hauling of my high school English teacher’s Ferrari up the front steps of Perry High School and into the study hall.  Again, I was not to blame. I simply advised. And for what it’s worth, high school English teachers have absolutely no sense of humor.  When we went into his house one night and filled every cup, saucer, pitcher and bathtub with green Jell-O to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day the guy showed the same lack of merriment.

And the goat he found tied to his bumper on the following morning? Not me. I did happen to know where to get a goat, but that didn’t mean I’d done anything wrong. You can’t be blamed for simply sharing information.  Just ask Edward Snowden.

It seems I’m always getting blamed things I didn’t actually do. After all, when the President of the United States makes a mistake, we don’t take it out on his advisors. We simply toss the bum out of office and the advisor hires on as a lobbyist with a huge increase in salary. If you can’t shoot the messenger then you shouldn’t blame the advisor.

My brother and I were once fighting over who’d get to play with our new Howdy Doody puppet. Poor Howdy ripped in half with a Bradbury brother on each end and we were both spanked, but again I was not to blame. Keith did the pulling. I simply held on to my end. And after Dad got through with us we were both hanging onto our ends.

When I taught at Triopia I occasionally suffered the disdain of my fellow teachers when I’d fail to take student high jinx seriously.  When the senior class decided to sneak into the school at night and wrap all the teachers’ chairs to their desks with bailing wire I thought it was hilarious. Hilarity was not the norm the next morning as the staff struggled to cut their way through the mess. It was just my luck to teach with a group of folks who’d never lifted a Ferrari up nine concrete steps. Some people simply have no sense of humor.  I’m glad the principal never found out who let the kids into the school. Tenure can sometimes be tenuous, but after all, I was senior advisor that year.

I was talking to my seventh-graders about how to focus, and I taught them a neat little trick. If you’re in a fairly small audience and you stare at the speaker, blinking as little as possible and with your mouth slightly open, within a minute the speaker will find himself speaking directly to you and you only. It works with most speakers. Heck, I’ve done it for years. But I warned my little rascals, “Whatever you do, don’t try this in Mrs. So-and-So’s class because if she finds out she’ll get very mad.” How was I to know that they’d try on her that very afternoon . . . and that it worked? Once she discovered that for the first time all year her class was listening to her she immediately blamed me. Hey! I was just the advisor!

As I see Russian leader Alexander Putin putt-puttin’ around Europe, greedily snatching up the neighborhood, I can relate. As early as fifth grade he was considered to be a rowdy kid because he hung around the wrong crowd. He used to pretend he was one of the Russian intelligence officers he saw in the movies and was denied entrance to a youth club in Leningrad. He plagiarized most of his PhD thesis from a student at the University of Pittsburgh. Putin then fell into a dead end job in East Germany trying to steal secrets and was pretty much a bust.  He’d been stationed with a bunch of dead heads who spent a lot of time gathering practically nothing for the Soviet Union.

Who knows? Putin may be a really nice guy who was simply hanging around the wrong crowd. Maybe he’s got lousy advisors. I’ve searched his biography and can’t find a single thing about Volkswagens and Rammelkamp Chapel.

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