Our kid is going into show business.  College isn’t for everyone, even though it sometimes feels like the world is devoted to getting an academic abbreviation.  Seems like that’s all the parents talk about at my daughter’s school.  They are worried about the reputation of the University their children will attend, afraid their kids are already irrevocably behind unless they all rally.

Our second grade neighbor is in six extracurricular activities at the moment.  His debate team just won a contest against an all boys’ school.  The topic was “when is the best age to get ears pierced.”  Turns out, it’s birth, so you don’t remember the pain.  The boys on either side didn’t have an opinion.

My neighbor Carey’s fifth grader is in SAT prep classes twice a week.  Carey is one of those that is worried they started too late to achieve superiority.  She may be right, although her son could triple my score if I wanted to waste a morning.  I saw a flashcard drop out of his backpack in our parkway.  It looked like a math formula or it could have been an alien recipe for casserole, for all I know.

But, he’s not even the smartest kid on the block.  Behind our back yard across the alley, lives the valedictorian of the third grade agricultural engineering magnet school that repels minorities.

The goal of diminished competition is completely grasped by one of our daughter’s friends at school, who is working the weird sport angle.  Hockey isn’t too freaky, but a girl goalie is different.  They recently moved from The Dominion of Canada where female goalies are all too plentiful.

Goalies have to work on reflexes.  Toss a quarter to her when she’s not looking and she will palm it out of the air like a magician concealing the queen of hearts and then she will dish it off to an open bystander.  The dinner rule is that the rest of the family may throw objects at the dinner table only if directed at her and they don’t splatter.

She owns a variety of goalie masks, which inevitably scare the shit out of me every time I see her walking by the house on the way to the park or jumping rope on her front walk.  Her mom told me she wears the masks to become accustomed to the impaired vision of the eye holes.  It works the other way too, since she can’t see people approach her from her blind spots, she yelps when they leap into sight, which in turn frightens the passerby.

It’s not like Canada doesn’t have good schools.  It’s all about the odds.  On the other hand, do Canadian universities have the same recruitment rate by Wall Street as the Ivy League?  Of course not, and that makes Harvard better than every school they have, even if Canadian professors don’t give their students the cliff notes for The Handmaid’s Tale in place of the actual novel.

With that kind of competition we decided, “Why not go for acting?”  The grade school doesn’t have a drama class, which doesn’t matter.  The ratio of unemployed good actors vs. employed good actors is a minimum of 1000 to 1.

School plays are secondary.  There are numerous examples that anyone can walk into acting.  It just simply hasn’t been demonstrated that an excellent actor is more likely to get a role for example, than a star athlete or a willingness to engender any type of media attention such as scooping a kid out of a third world village to advocating a hemp lifestyle for enhancing tantric sex.

Acting lessons are also a backup to the growth hormones she would need as an athlete, but to be on the safe side we added a dash of homeschool method acting.  For example, the other night before dinner I asked the actor to imagine that she was hurrying home to make dinner for the family, driving a small car trapped in rush hour traffic with ninety plus degree temperatures, the air conditioning has died, her passenger has just spilled milk on the car seat and the driver is worried about the reek of curdled milk filling the sauna like atmosphere.

Our kid’s performance was amazing.  There was a small hiccup when she screamed insincere apologies, but then she settled nicely into the role after emoting and direction. Veering too far into imitation, while a valid tool, should be distinguished from acting.

We circulated a petition in the neighborhood to change the name of streets in the neighborhood to encourage success.  The custom is to name them after Ivy League schools, but we wanted classic films like Gone With the Wind, Casablanca and Jaws.  As a sop to our Canuck neighbor and to get their vote we offered to name a street after hockey player Gordie Howe.  That family isn’t familiar with ivy on an outdoor structure anyway, since it would die of exposure in the homeland.

Below is how we have graded out education on an entertainment attainment level:

Harvard (Ivies) = Movies
Second Tier Schools = Theatre
State School = TV
Community College = Commercials
High School Dropout = Celebrity/Infotainment shows

Most college freshmen don’t know what major to pursue.  My kid won’t have the problem of finding her place. We have a model that like almost all media types can be identified by audience members at the eight-minute mark of a program.  I predict this is how all actors will be classified in the near future.  We’ll call ours a C4-A for a buff female comedian action hero.  We wanted something unique and C4-A goes against type in a couple of ways that are bound to become acceptable.

Her comedian school began at a dive bar in the neighborhood called the Squire that has open mic night every Tuesday.  The crowd was renowned for being rough.   But c’mon, how mean can they be to an eight-year-old girl?  Apparently, pretty nasty.

At first they gave her a chance, but turned on my little girl when confronted with her combo impersonation of Richard Pryor and Michael Jackson.  You would think drunken red necks would be pretty opened minded to material, but they objected to the RP/MJ character on fire, moon walking through a whorehouse in Peoria and then dodging bullets in Gary.  Apparently, the audience felt that the tag line to the routine, “To all appearances, both felt they had to leave the ghetto to get good lighting or lightening as the case may be,” had racist overtones.  Even worse, it was dated.  Since that joke was my contribution we had a chilly ride home.

When people ask, “What’s her fall back plan?”  I tell them it’s the same as countless graduates who matriculate into the career of a barista or sales associate after graduating from college. This still leaves the nagging question, “But are they management material?”


paul picPaul Handley’s work has appeared in Hobart, Metazen, Gone Lawn, Monkeybicycle, Pulp Diction III, Apt, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency and is forthcoming in Gargoyle Magazine. Paul lives in Denver.