Why can I never remember Karl Rove’s face?

I never can remember Karl Rove’s face. Rumsfeld is easy. When I think Rumsfeld I think Wes Craven’s “Hellraiser”. Rumsfeld has always, always been “Hellraiser” to me. But Rove? Nothing. A suit with a zero for a head.


My son can draw like crazy. This is not one of his drawings-drawings. This is my son doing a quick deliberation on what he was at that moment considering andwhat he was considering was evolution. He brought it in, dropped it in husband’s lap, said, “This is a picture of evolution,” and went on to sketch something else.

He has about as much problem with the idea we arose from an ancestor common with the apes, as he does with our having crawled out of the briney ocean on our bellies. Which is zero. One will note that the stick-human is carrying something. A suitcase. I guess more important than us having a heavy investment in making tools is the fact we move around and carry them from place to place.

We have talked about this and read some to him on it in a casual manner. Then he was asking about all this last week and we spent a while talking time, long stretches of time and mutations upon surviving mutations, and really long stretches of time. Because for him, at seven, there’s the matter of context to be absorbed which in this case is lots and lots of time, and it’s that he ended up trying to comprehend.

Anyway, we homeschool. In red state Georgia. And we believe in evolution.

And because we homeschool I thankfully don’t have to put up with this kind of shit, (via Pharyngula) Beauty Dish being called down to the school to pick up her son who was being suspended for the day for the following:

So she told me what he did. And as she told me, I started to laugh. I didn’t laugh a little, either, but I belly-laughed and grabbed my stomach. My son stood with his class this morning, put small right hand over heart, faced the American flag, and recited his own personal pledge of allegiance:

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United Federation of Planets, and to the galaxy for which it stands, one universe, under everybody, with liberty and justice for all species.

“Mrs. Jaworski. This isn’t humorous. The Pledge is an extremely important and patriotic moment each morning in the classroom. I am ashamed of your son’s behavior, and I hope you are, too.”

I wanted to say, Hey Lady, it’s a big universe. Why should we pledge allegiance to a mixed-up country? Why shouldn’t my son embrace the potential of stardust? But I stood, extended my hand, apologized for my laughter, slung my purse over my shoulder, opened her door to find my son, 8, red-eyed sitting on the wooden bench bordering the World Map wall.

And there you have one of the reasons for which my son is homeschooled, because had it been me, I wouldn’t have extended my hand and apologized, I would have said something off-the-top-of-my-head down the order of, “Well, rather than being ashamed of my son I happen to be proud of him for exhibiting a measure of sanity and pledging to honor the idea of affinity universal rather than mindless acceptance of imperialist lies and subservience to the slaughtering greed of slave-hungry corporations. My son is learning to measure actions against words and make calls on what’s proven specious and rather than being brainwashed into accepting two and two makes five, believe me, he’s going to call you on it every time. He does it at home, I will not tell him not to do it here. And if you have a problem with this then you and your teachers need to put on the seatbelts and get ready for a hell of a ride, but at least his peers will get an education.”

That’s what I would have done. Ask my husband. Ask my public school teachers, who hated me with the exception of a precious few. Ask the individual I knew from high school, who eight years ago, before son H.o.p. decided to show up unexpectedly, saw us with a van and said everyone he knew who’d gotten a van ended up with a kid in a couple of years and he wanted to be there when I showed up at the PTA meetings.

But continuing, the principal would have gone Karl Rove on me. I would have gone Shakespeare’s Sister on her and then told her all about cutting away shadows.

And I would not have then opened the door to find my son sitting red-eyed on a bench because I would have demanded that he be present at the conference as he should be there to hear exactly what was said about him and be able to voice his side.

I am not criticizing how Beauty Dish did things. I’m just saying what would have happened had it been me, and I don’t even like confrontation. Which is a reason why we homeschool. The school would want to deal with me about as much as they’d want to deal with a boy who doesn’t, in the first place, have the disposition to sit hours at a desk being lectured to and told what to do. He doesn’t like being fed knowledge. He likes being shown what’s available and then pursuing it on his own with someone there to talk to him about it (me or his dad), asking someone to go through it with him on different points (me or his dad), and then he’ll say that’s enough for now and mull and return to it a day or a week or three weeks later to learn and mull some more, or he’ll sit with it for four days straight mulling on one point alone.

I seriously doubt people like Karl Rove had that opportunity, if they so desired it, when they were 6 and 7 and 8 years of age.

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Juli Kearns

Juli Kearns is the author of Thunderbird and the Ball of Twine and Unending Wonders of a Subatomic World (or) In Search of the Great Penguin. She is also an artist/photographer, and the person behind the web alter of "Idyllopus Press".

6 thoughts on “Why can I never remember Karl Rove’s face?”

  1. The principal’s office tale reminds me of a funny story. My father-in-law used to disapprove of the absence of bourbon and scotch whisky in our house, so he would bring his own. In fact, like some kind of outsized alcoholic squirrel, he would leave liquor stashes in houses he habitually visited. Usually he would bring whatever he was drinking, commonly single malt scotch, neat (tho sometimes he would add a little water and ice when he decanted it into something more upscale like a jelly glass), in a quart Mason jar with a screw-on lid. He would hide jars of whisky in our house, just in case he might forget to bring some later.
    My wife’s oldest daughter, my stepdaughter, Anna, was maybe 13 and had at the time kind of a punk outlook and demeanor, found one of these jars _hidden in her room_! She considered it was hers, by God, and she took it to school. Now at that time she would smoke weed a little bit, down in the park next door–we could see them passing joints around–but I don’t think she drank at all. Anyhow, she hid it in her locker at school. God knows why. To have.
    One day, between classes, thousands of kids in the hallway, noisy, she opens her locker and the jar falls out, crashes to the floor and shatters. She can tell this better than I can, she is a good story teller, but she says that suddenly the hall went silent and in her peripheral vision, she could tell the hall, reeking with whisky, had become empty, except for a pair of shoes, splattered with whisky, next to the shards of glass she was looking down at. The shoes belonged to the assistant principal.
    So my wife, Kay, gets the phone call. I was at work, but she was an anthropology professor who did her reading and grading papers at home, so she was got the very grim severe command to present herself at the school. Go to the office.
    So she did so. Same deal as with Beauty Dish, except that after Kay got through laughing she patiently presented a step-by-step exculpatory account of how the jar must have gotten to Anna’s locker, and that Anna didn’t drink anyway, and don’t be so uptight, man, anyway, life is too short.
    So instead of a one-day suspension Anna got three days. Anna was jubilant. They laughed all the way home in the car.

  2. The July/August issue of Adbusters magazine adds fuel to your righteous fire. If you can’t find it or (like me) afford it, there’s one reproduced Lockheed-Martin ad in it of smiling dreamy-eyed eight-year-old boys with a photo of a space rocket presumably designed by L-M, and a bunch of fluffy text composed to wash the blood off the image of this armaments manufacturer most notoriously featured in the movie Columbine.

    I expect there’s a lot of mind-washing like this in the public schools these days now they’ve become dependent on corporate philanthropy. Bless all those parents who are currently fighting to keep military propagandists and recruiters out of the public schools.

  3. Jim – Oh, I can imagine the sudden silence and emptying of the hall. I experienced it several times and it’s amazing how people can evaporate like that. I wonder if your stepdaughter was made to feel something like this would follow her to the end of her days, that it added to the accumulative weight of her punkish attitude would snap her future like a dry stick, opportunity is lost to you, now go and languish in grief over your hopelessness until the day you graduate which is the day your life will end. There are exceptions but schools seem to be filled with people who lord over their students the belief they godly powers over them and are prepared to condemn them to a fruitless existence.

    For some reason last night I was thinking of lockers in schools and remarked to my husband that I couldn’t remember using mine a single time. I believe in my senior year I didn’t use it. In television and movies they show kids gathered around their lockers conducting social rituals but I’ve not a single memory of that. Maybe because we could still smoke on school grounds during breaks (don’t know if they still do that) and I’d always be outside between classes.

    Jay–Nah, Adbusters is too expensive, as are most of the magazines that are worth having. Have one friend (who visits here, hi if you’re reading this because you’ll recognize the story and I hope I’m telling it right) but at her school they were having Patriot Days after 9/11 and students were actually awarded extra grade points for dressing in red, white and blue. Also, I remember her telling me something about a petition to do with 9/11 and the war, or a letter of support, that the teacher passed around, expectingd the students to sign, and was upset when the daughter didn’t sign it.

    Georgia is where a student was suspended for wearing a Pepsi shirt on the day “Coke” was celebrated at school in a rally. Columbia County, right next to Augusta where we used to live and is pretty much considered Augusta. Which is typical Augusta behavior. Try Googling for Augusta and disgusta and see what you come up with.

  4. Yes, you told the story right about my daughter and school and the requirement of signing in support of the US after 9/11. I think the letter was posted to the door of the classroom. That was middle school. It was pretty outrageous! I’d forgotten about points for wearing the colors of the flag.

    And I know this isn’t quite the right place to say it but…HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

  5. oh, one other thing…I loved the drawings from H.o.p. Especially the story of evolution. It has the feel of H.o.p.’s works with play doh, the drawing is very animated.

  6. Nina, ok, hoped I was telling the story correctly.
    I miss his sculptures, he doesn’t do them much anymore and when he does they aren’t the type he used to do. Not the elaborate ones. Maybe he’ll get back into it later, has just totally invested himself in drawing. He tried making a flute the other night out of sculpting material.
    Thanks for the happy birthday.

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