(If you have never read “Breakfast Smoothies” you might want to read the short introductory page. Explanations about the most blatant lies usually follow the essay.)
Erica was upset about her daughter, Bramble, again. I served her the frozen smoothie. It is so cold it makes you forget about everything except keeping your heart going. I was hoping it would help.
Bramble, who lives with Erica’s “ex,” was getting into her usual trouble and Erica had tried to visit her during the day at school to have a talk.
That’s our local high school, ‘Gangsta High’, right, I asked?
“You know, it’s easier to visit someone in prison than it is to see your own daughter in the middle of the day at that high school,” she said. “I should know. I’ve had to visit Cage a number of times.”
Cage is her second husband (or her third), a former CFO sent up for embezzling from the local youth soccer program. He’s at the Happy Estuary Institute for White Collar Crime a few miles inland.
“First you have to find a place to park. The parking lot is larger than the parking lot at Target because every kid over the age of 15 (and that’s most of them) has their own car. Most of the gangs have reserved parking close to the door.”
“Then you’ve got to navigate among the drug dealers and pimps loitering in the lot waiting for school to get out.”
“I have to put up with, ‘Hey baby, you’re lookin’ fine. Com’ere. You want some a dis?’”
“Once you make it to the door, the guard there questions you like you are a terrorist about to bomb the place then directs you to Security.”
“Empty your pockets and go through the metal detector.” One of the guards looked like he was considering frisking me – that wasn’t going to happen. “Then go to the administration office and wait in line.”
“The line was 20 minutes long and you had one very slow, deliberate clerk listening to each person. Each of the requests seemed bizarre and random.
- “I need to take Kimberly to her dentist appointment”
- “I need a library form so my Home Interiors teacher will let me go to the library”
- “I’m detective Farnsworth and we need to speak to a ‘Mosely Locklear’ for a few minutes”
- “Gunmetal” forgot his lunch”
- “I need a transcript request”
“When I finally got to the front of the line, I said that I needed to get my daughter out of class for a few minutes to talk with her. The clerk said, “stand over there, fill out this and give me two forms of picture ID”.
“I just came from their metal detector,” I said, “why do I need to go back?”
“They need to do a background check on you.”
“Behind what looked like a 2×2 office with a metal detector outside in the hall, was a room that opened up to a seating area for about 15 people. It was full.”
“The burley female security guard looked like a former roller derby enforcer. “This won’t take long,” she said, “about 20 minutes. Unless the computers are down.”
“But I’m just trying to talk to my daughter,” I pleaded.
“You know how many times a day I hear that? We’re just trying to keep your kids safe.”
“After only 12 minutes, she looked up from her computer screen and said, “Erica, you can go. Take this,” and handed me a blue slip of paper.
“Go where?” I said.
“Back to the admin office. Give them the paper.”
“So I stood back in the admin line, this time for 35 minutes.
- “Jennifer’s probation officer called and said she was overdue.”
- “The Princeton admissions officer is expecting Derek to call by noon!”
- “I need to take Tori to her lamaze class.”
- “Gunmetal forgot his lunch.”
- “Can you give Henry his homework?”
“Finally I got to the front of the line and the clerk took the blue slip of paper, looked at me suspiciously, and said, “What room is Brandy in?”
“It’s Bramble, and I don’t know her schedule.”
“Why not? Do you expect us to know where all of our students are? There are 15,843 of them today.”
“Don’t you have a computer with her schedule?”
“Yeah, but it’s not up to date with this semester’s schedule yet.”
“But the semester’s almost over.”
“She looked at me with the evil eye. “Look, unless you can tell me where she is, I can’t help you. Anyway,” glancing at the clock, “she’s probably at lunch now and we can’t take her out of lunch. The cafeteria is always in lockdown.”
“But it seems to me that lunch would be the best time for me to talk to her. I wouldn’t be disturbing any of her classes.”
“Look, get her schedule from her tonight, and come back tomorrow. You’re lucky. The security check is good for 48 hours. Who’s next?”
“But if I talk to her tonight, I won’t need to talk to her tomorrow!”
“When I got to the door I asked the security guard if she could walk me to my car. She just looked at me with disdain. “We’re here for the kids.”