February 22, 2012 - As a parent, I think it's incumbent upon me to make sure the lads, Shamus and Sean, get a well-rounded education.
Their public school district takes care of the reading, writing, 'rymetic, social reprogramming and brainwashing. Their mother makes sure of their manners and other social graces, like personal hygiene and saying things like, "please," and "thank you."
I head up the rear, rounding out their well-roundedness by introducing them to the finer things in life like reading science fiction, watching action movies, how to make pancakes (Dad's secret ingredient is to squeeze the juice of one orange into the batter), cooking an awesome pot of chili and how to keep the lawn mower a'mowering.
You know, important things.
This past weekend -- aside from cracking the whip so they'd complete their homework -- was a cultural weekend. A weekend of new and exciting experiences, I promised. No, we didn't go to the Detroit Institute of Arts (though, we saw prints, paintings, pottery and the like that somebody, somewhere probably displays as art). Not to the opera, symphony, poetry or other highbrow experience.
The cultural experience I wanted for my sons was gritty and real. See, I was raised a lily-white boy from the mean streets of Clarkston. Which is to say, the streets were pretty darned nice and maintained and pretty much everybody was the same as me, except maybe better looking, more athletic, artistic and articulate. Oh, and everybody drove a better car in high school. I drove a 1972 Chevy Vega Kamback -- pumpkin orange and complete with rust holes on the front fenders big enough to be labeled torpedo holes by some shop teachers (and I won't name names, DJ Marsh).
For me, seeing different types of people from different types of backgrounds, religions and even different counties was a shock to my system (not to mention the copious amounts of adult beverages that soon followed).
Back to the point, I wanted Shamus and Sean to see a different part of their world, a world that exists only a few miles from our base-camp at Compound Rush in Goodrich. I took them to the Dixieland flea market at the intersection of Dixie Highway and Telegraph Road.
And, the Dixieland flea market did not disappoint. Even though my old buddy Lee Classman, aka Indian Joe, has long since left this plain of existence for the Happy Hunting Grounds in the sky, colorful characters still abound at Dixieland.
The smells, the sounds, the feel and the people -- it is that different world I wanted the boys to experience and not because that world is bad or wrong. Only because it is different. I hoped they would see something other than their lily-white world. It didn't take long for we three amigos of Honkydom to fall in-line behind two very pale, painfully pale, "Goth" types.
(For those still stuck in Honkydom, Goths refer to a segment of the population who like to pancake their faces white, and then highlight their lips and eyes with black lipstick and eye-liner -- both genders. They have plenty of piercings, leather and black-died hair. Goth is short for Gothic. They look kinda ghoulish, but in a nice, dead kind of way.)
We hung out behind the Goths for a bit, looked at booths for biker-club types, tatoo parlors, used tools, musical instruments, sword/knife/blades and DVDs. I shooed them past the adult magazine booths and ethnic cuisine eateries.
I then took and home via Seymour Lake Road in Oxford, where we saw a turkey walking at the corner near Coats Road.
"You guys ever see a live, wild turkey before," I asked.
"Turkeys creep me out," Sean said.
"Wild turkeys aren't as ugly as farm ones," Shamus countered.
I turned our Ford Escape around, turned down the turkey's street and drove slow so the boys could continue their cultural education. He (the turkey) glared at us. I drove on and then, to get back home, turned in a driveway and backed out onto the street to return to Seymour Lake Road. When I came to a stop, the turkey ran out and started pecking at our front tires. I backed up and he moved to the front of the Escape and started pecking some more, every once in a while poking his head up over the hood.
We were trapped by a turkey on the mean streets of Oxford. Who woulda thunk it? As I opened the car door to shoo away the mad turkey I thought, "I felt saver at Dixieland flea market with the Goths."
I don't know if the lads' cultural education was enhanced, but I think I did manage to scar them for life with the mad turkey thing. They can add that to the list of things they will need to tell their psychiatrists when they grow up.
Don is Assistant Publisher for Sherman Publications, Inc. He has worked for the company since 1985. He has won numerous awards for column, editorial and feature writing as well as for photography. He has two, sons Shamus and Sean and resides in the area. To read archived copies of his columns, click on his name, just under his picture up top . . . He can be e-mailed at: email@example.com