Friday, October 15, 2004

Some Things are Certain

There is one thing Teen Spirit knows for sure. He does NOT want to attend Automotive High School. "Why would I want to spend four years learning to do the most boring thing imaginable?" he asked the other night over dinner at Thai Sky, Fifth Avenue's fabulous new Thai place. "It's not like I'm interested in becoming a car mechanic or something. I think I would have a very boring life."

Teen Spirit was responding to Smartmom's earlier question, which went something like, "How was the high school fair today, dear?"

The ever inquisitive teen had "window shopped" at Middle School 51's small high school fair held earlier in the day. The 8th graders were invited to the gymnasium to talk to the representatives who'd shown up from the various high schools. In addition to Automotive High School, all the usual suspects were there, including Murrow, Stuyvesant, Midwood, The Jacqueline Onassis High School, even the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts. But it was the vocational schools that really caught Teen Spirit's eye. Aviation, Automotive, Transit Tech. With characteristic curiosity, Teen Spirit took it all in.

We were having a quick dinner at Thai Sky before going en famille on a school tour in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. And Teen Spirit was on a rant, albeit a rather spunky, agitated rant. "And furthermore, I don't think Transit Tech High School would be right for me either," he said over bites of Chicken Sate. "I don't really want to spend the rest of my life working on the subway. Besides, I'd have to learn how to talk in this really strange, subway conductor way." At this point in the conversation, Teen Spirit imitated an F-Train Subway Conductor in true monotone: "Next Stop Seventh Avenue, watch the closing door."

The family finished their feast of Roasted Duck Pad Thai, Panang Curry and Sticky Rice and were on their way to Bay Ridge. They got terribly lost trying to find the school, which is located on Fourth Avenue in the high sixties. Smartmom had memorized the wrong street number (chalk it up to nerves and "the trying to get your kid into a good NYC high school heebie jeebies"). Hepcat got wildly agitated, as he often does when he has to drive to places he's never been. The four finally did find the high school after ASKING FOR DIRECTIONS at a nearby gas station. It was an unspeakable thing to do, and Hepcat drove into the gas station kicking and screaming, but Smartmom didn't want to miss their first high school tour completely.

Smartmom will not bore you, dear reader, with details about the school. But OSFO particularly liked the physics teacher, who reminded her of a character out of the Harry Potter books. The young, good looking teacher impressed the group with a really coooool holigram of a small pig. OSFO absolutely LOVED the pig and the way the teacher said more than once, "Physics is really AWESOME."

Teen Spirit showed off his true intellectual sophistication by insisting that we leave the tour early so that he could see the third presidential debate. Can you put -- passionately interested in the things he's passionately interested in -- on the high school application? How about blathering on about all the ways in which your child is simply amazing. But the admissions people don't want that. They want stats, ranking, grades, and standardized testing. But that's okay -- that's life on the fast-lane, even if it is only 8th grade.

The family listened to the candidates, products of expensive WASPy boarding schools and Yale, debate on the car radio. When they got home, Teen Spirit sat up close to the television set (which has been getting a lot of use of late for said debates). Teen Spirit, a born pundit, provided scintillating ringside observations during Bush and Kerry's tempestuous talkathon.

Haggen Daz Chocolate Ice Cream was an elixir for all after the rigors of another day on the search for Teen Spirit's dream high school.


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