So, it’s that time of year again: the first day of school.

A heady time when eager kiddies, big and small, head off to institutions of higher and lower learning in hopes of improving their present and eventual station in the world. A time when our gifted future keepers will lineup and be lined up. They will be evaluated, selected, grouped and scrutinized by their

Photo of author as outcast.
Photo of author as outcast.

peers and superiors alike, just as they have been for decades. The advanced, the general and the special, all unique little flowers waiting to be picked and thrust into the wet, luke warm vases, filled with aspirations of social acceptance and the promise new found knowledge.

Alas, all is not well in new Denmark. Something is most peculiar in this post millennial academic realm. Gone are the mouldy cloth bound textbooks stored in dank, asbestos ridden classrooms. Absent is the sulphurous scent of Clearasil, newly sharpened pencils and the look of hard-creased, indigo denim. Our environmental sensitivities have done away with the prophetic classroom hamster, forever trapped on an endlessly spinning wheel, for our entertainment. In this modern academic atmosphere the air is brand spanking new, yet there is no spanking here. There is only the reek of cheap, synthetic body spray. It is the stench of cold, whirring electronics loaded with the state-of-the-art lifestyle.

It may be hard to sniff out, but there is a subtle, barely discernible musk of this years newest laptop, next series smart phone and newfangled tablet that dominates this landscape. An outdated doodad is nothing short of homeroom heresy or an exercise in social studies suicide. Take a deep whiff.

The bouquet of fresh Apples is king, during fall harvest.

This author can recall a terrifying time; not so long ago, when the gravest concern for a returning student was whether their back-to-school attire would 91qg51DCYfL._UL1500_be cool kid approved. There was no fear as to whether your electro-doohickey or whizbanger was outmoded. We embraced the simple confidence
of knowing that everything was bigger in Texas, including their Instruments. My generations worries revolved around the sacred first day vestments, our September suits, if you will. You see, these deliberately assembled costumes represented the first impression we intended to put forth to those we knew and hoped to know better. Our wardrobe choices were highly personal statements that would set the course for our social engagements and the overall tone of our coming school year. Unlike the modern student and their device dilemma, we need only contend with ill-fitting clothing conundrums, and the inevitable hazing that followed when adorned in attire deemed wholly unsuitable by the few.

Regrettably, our parents were not much help in safe-guarding us from the ordeal of poor fashion options, as they would buy off the rack, from their favourite department stores : Sears, Woolworth’s, Bi-Way or Hudson’s Bay, “would do just fine,” for you. Frankly, this was well out of our hands, as the stores that our families frequented depended solely upon their economic situ. Little did they know, that the only Target that existed at this time, was the one that appeared on your back if you dared to wear the wrong back-to-school duds. Sparx shoes, anyone?

Larger family units had an easier go of things as the hand-me-down clothing option prevailed. This could work in one’s favour depending on the choices
1962cryingmade by your frugal parents and / or the doggedness of one’s more style conscious elder siblings. You may have never worn a single stitch of new clothing but, if your older brother had out grown his black and white Black Sabbath baseball tee…you were golden, Pony Boy!

Having said all this, we must be ever mindful of the hunger to identify ourselves with the cult of modern fashion and gadgetry. Is there not a simple solution that everyone can afford? Perhaps each student gets a refurbished Commodore64, along with a used pair of Wrangler jeans and well worn Styx ~ Grand Illusion concert shirt on the first day of school? Maybe we cut straight to the chase and provide bulky, orange jumpsuits for the trouble makers? Yellow parasols for the keeners and bright red capes for the dreamers?

But what do I know? I only buy second hand, mostly because I like dead people’s things.

See you at graduation everyone!