My daughter asked me to be a part of her school's Career Day this year, something I also did when she was in kindergarten. I thoroughly enjoyed doing it then and thought it would be fun to do again. And even though the chiropractors, CPAs, and lawyers of my neighborhood surely make a lot more money than I do, nothing makes a better presentation table than a pile of comic strips and cartoons. The kids love them and I remember that spark in their eyes when they saw that an artistic career is possible for them.
At 7:30am, I met the other parents presenting their careers. We shared a quick laugh and a cup of coffee and then promptly setup our tables before the kids came into the gym. We were asked by the school to bring some kind of handout. And since Easter was around the corner, I decided to print out copies of my comic strip that reveals where Easter eggs REALLY come from. A lot of my comic strips aren't for kids. They contain adult language and topics. But I do have some that are kid-friendly. And this one had been a hit with the kids the last time I did Career Day. And I knew it would be a hit this year. The chiropractor at the table next to me saw my cartoons, and quickly snapped, "Crap, the kids are gonna pass my table up for yours for sure." Score! One point for the cartoonist.
Soon after, the kids poured into the gym. Groups of about ten surrounded each career table and they spent about seven minutes at each. I told them my name and that I was a cartoonist, eliciting excited responses. "Cool!" "Cartoons!" "Do you draw Garfield?!" They asked if they could take a cartoon home and I pointed to the stack of Easter Bunny comic strips. They read the comic strip, laughed, snickered, and took a copy. Pretty soon, my stack of comic strips was gone. They were a hit! Another point for the cartoonist. I needed more copies.
I asked one of the teachers if he could make some copies for me and he said he would. So off he went to make the copies and I went back to my table. About 20 minutes later, another teacher brought my comic strip back to me. She had a displeased look on her face. "The principal thinks this is not appropriate for the kids and we will not be making copies of this for you." Not appropriate? The principal's bureaucratic response got me boiling. I said, "What do you mean? This is not inappropriate." She said she was sorry and walked off.
I was pissed! I would not bring anything inappropriate to my kid's school. This comic strip did not contain foul language, nudity, adult topics, or obscene material. This comic strip was a silly attempt to express a silly idea: the Easter bunny farting out an Easter egg. It's no more inappropriate than a Spongebob cartoon. In my opinion, it's not inappropriate at all. But it got me thinking, "Am I inappropriate? Maybe I am." And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I was not inappropriate. I realized, quite clearly, that these bureaucrats were humorless, no more, no less.
It made me think about other things that are now inappropriate in our schools, things like saying "Merry Christmas." Here we have a holiday that is celebrated by the cities, counties, states, and our country; a holiday that we officially have time off from work to celebrate; and a holiday that is part of the fabric of our country. And our kids can't acknowledge it at school anymore. What the hell is Winter Fest supposed to be anyway? It's Christmas without saying Christmas. It's vacation time taken for the sake of vacation time, not to celebrate what it really is: Christmas. It's inappropriate to say in school. And I don't agree with that at all either.
So, you know what? If my comic strip is inappropriate, then I'm proud to announce that I am inappropriate. I would rather be inappropriate than a humorless bureaucrat. I would rather be inappropriate than feel the need to push policies that homogenize my kid's school environment into a bland, unoriginal bore-fest. And if being inappropriate means I can show kids how to channel their creative instincts into something that could be a career for them, then 100 points for me. But ultimately, if I truly am inappropriate, then let me indulge myself, dear principal, by quoting one of my favorite movie quotes of the last year. Les Grossman of Tropic Thunder said it best when he said, "Take a big step back... and literally, FUCK YOUR OWN FACE!" Ah, I feel better. Sometimes, it feels good to be inappropriate.