Showdown with Stupidity

One must be prepared when facing massive idiocy to find a means of maintaining a sense of unbending tranquillity within oneself. Brush aside any urge to commit a hostile act. Subtle hostility may be allowed. For instance, carving the word “dunce” on the side of the person’s desk when they look away.  Or slingshotting a large pebble through an open window while hidden behind a nearby bush and hitting your target squarely on the side of  the neck. 

As you may recall, my son attends a private school without an athletic program. Hence, I researched and discovered that, with a bit of fancy paperwork, he could play golf for the local public high school. I was to meet with the Stuperintendent  (short for an unbearably stupid superintendent of a school district) even though I already knew his answer.

I’m not clairvoyant, but like private eyes, I have my reliable informants. No, not mobsters, ex-cons or assorted degenerates. My spies consist of the head librarian, a retired engineer and a local multi-millionaire. The latter, X,  had past dealings with the Stuperintendent. X, a sixty-year-old, retired university professor/entrepreneur, founded a digital microscope company which he later sold for nine figures. X generously offered to teach physics at the high school. Stuperintendent turned X away. Undoubtedly, all those initials (Ph.D. from MIT) confounded the Stuper.

All three of my sources informed me that there would be no high school golf team for my son. Yet, the Stuperintendent agreed to see me. Could my informants be mistaken?

I was granted an audience at eight am during the climax of chaos. Students dashed to and fro like ants whose single file line had been tampered with.  Overhead speakers mounted throughout the campus – in the offices, classrooms, bathrooms – blasted the local radio station at decibels so loud, the receptionist and I had to engage in a shouting match in order for me to explain who I was.

The receptionist whisked me away, down dimly lit corridors to the exalted office, while a voice on the speaker announced,
“No student parking at the YMCA lot across the street.  All inmates must remain on school grounds at all times.”

“Did I hear correctly?” I asked my guide.

“Well, we lock all gates and entry ways during school hours. But some students do try to escape by jumping our high wire fences, and then by taking off in cars parked across the street.”

Keep in mind, this campus is not in the Bronx or East Los Angeles; it’s in a quiet town in the countryside.

How should a Superintendent dress? My high school principal always wore a snappy suit, kept his hair perfectly combed and maintained a slight tan, indicating a healthy love of the outdoors. Picture Cary Grant in his sixties.

How does a Stuperintendent dress? Jeans and the school jacket clumsily draped over a tee-shirt indicating he’d just rolled out of bed. Picture Drew Carey (no disrespect to Mr. Carey), but not as attractive.

We met in his office and I stated my purpose. I explained the means to allow my son to play golf. Stuperintendent wanted to know why my son wasn’t enrolled in his school. My sources had told me that enrollment had been steadily dwindling. They’d 1400 students a short time ago; 1100 currently. I’d heard numerous complaints about the caliber of curriculum. Plus, my son was happy where he was.

I do not hit people beneath the belt. I find that unbecoming. Besides, in this case, I was certain there was nothing there to hit. So I asked the Stuper to stick to the issue at hand. Suddenly, he froze. He stared at me, unblinking, then blurted,

“Is this about golf?”

When I answered affirmatively, he proceeded to give me a stack of enrollment papers, one inch thick; then he boasted about how challenging the high school courses were.

“Our students are accepted at the University of Spain,”  he told me.

Immediately, I turned my attention elsewhere to maintain my sense of well being. I did not attempt to hide my disinterest; I just stared at the wall behind him where several framed accolades hung. But this is what caught my eye:

Nothing that is absurd seems impossible. The name beneath this quote was his own.

Can someone kindly explain this quote to me? I almost fell backward in my chair and hit the floor trying to make sense of that one. Maybe I was just too intent on maintaining tranquillity. I think it’s a twisted version of Cervantes’ In order to attain the impossible, one must attempt the absurd.  Appropriate in my case, don’t you think?

I interrupted his endless ravings and asked, “Do you think me absurd for attempting what you deem impossible?”

“Of course not.”

“Why can’t my son play on the team?”

“I only serve students fully enrolled here.”

“So you have the capability of allowing students who aren’t enrolled to participate, but yet you choose not to?”


Then he proceeded to tell me how he regularly, for the past twelve years, turned down kids from all over, including lesser neighborhoods; he ignored pleas from parents who lived fifteen minutes away, albeit in a different district, who begged him to enroll their children. He had a half-crazed expression in his shifty eyes while he spoke. But he still didn’t explain why.

“It’s about the $, isn’t it? You get no stipend without full-time enrollment within your district.”

“That’s not it.”

As he bragged again about his program, I stood up. He thrust the stack of registration papers in my hands, insisting I take them, in case I came to my senses. He followed me out saying,

“Don’t worry, I’ll let you have the last word.”

Since I don’t smoke, I bummed a cigarette lighter off a random student. The Stuperintendent didn’t notice as he busily rambled on. I gingerly lit the papers he’d given me, then dropped them in a nearby metal trash can. I didn’t look back as I walked to my car, but I knew he’d stopped trailing me.

What’s the best way to dissolve such sheer stupidity? Share your tale with some one that you love.  My son and I enjoyed much laughter at the Stuperintendent’s expense. 

Keep thinking!


P.S. Every bit of information here is verbatim and factual save one: the cigarette lighter scene is my fabrication. Do not think for a moment that I contribute to the delinquency of young people. Delinquent stupers are my specialty. I set the papers on fire at home. 

3 Responses to “Showdown with Stupidity”

  1. M.C. says:

    I can’t believe he bragged about keeping kids out of his programs. That’s actually very sad. I would have tied him up and used him for a bonfire (if I was the hostile type).

  2. I used to think you could overcome stupidity over time with logic. You proved this theory wrong for me in this case.

  3. Starlily says:

    Your story reminded me of when I was thinking of enrolling my son in a musical theater program. Before handing over the check I was talking to the director, and in the course of the discussion mentioned that it is important for me that my children have good mentors. To which she replied ‘Oh, well I just don’t have TIME to be a mentor’. (!…so we should enroll with you because…..???)

    So I found a skating school run by a loving and enthusiastic husband and wife instructor team who were great mentors despite a hectic schedule…

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.