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Those who have rowdy kids shouldn’t throw stones

by Brian Clarey

So I’m all set to throw rocks in my column this week, and I gear up by drinking way too much coffee and then go about my usual method of cruising news sources until I see something that pisses me off.

Alberto Gonzales? Eh. It’s a scandal, but not much of one, considering the litany of ways the White House has abused its power over the last five years or so. No rocks for you.

The 2008 presidential race is heating up, though there’s many miles left to go before things get serious. I’ve got some rocks for this one, but I’ll hold on to them for now.

Likewise, the Greensboro mayors’ race has to run few more weeks before I can knock down any targets.

There’s a sex scandal in Washington that certainly got my attention, but frankly there have been so many scandals that they’re starting to bore me.

And then there’s Rosie O’Donnell’s career track (yawn), Alec Baldwin’s parenting skills (not really all that funny), Larry Birkhead’s fist-pumping “victory” on discovering that he had impregnated Anna Nicole Smith (kind of disturbing) and the many foibles of “American Idol” (I just don’t care anymore).

Then I stumble upon a dispatch by Greensboro News & Record reporter Donald W. Patterson concerning a proposed carousel in Downtown Greensboro.

A merry-go-round? Downtown? Oh, this is priceless. Are we stealing ideas from Burlington now?

For some reason my mind jumps back to the 1994 NBA playoffs, when the New York Knicks squared off against the Indiana Pacers. Reggie Miller of the Pacers averaged 24.7 ppg that series and also made the century’s highlight reel by flashing angry director and rabid Knicks fan Spike Lee the international symbol for “choke” in the fourth quarter of game five. But I’ll always remember the discrepancy between the two venues in that series: Madison Square Garden, located amid the bustle of midtown Manhattan, and the somewhat hokier Market Square Arena, which was demolished in 2001.

In between plays at the Garden fans were treated to the spandex-clad Knicks City Dancers popping it to “Everybody Dance Now” or some such tune while laser lights sliced through the roiling New York City crowd. At Market Square an old-time organ pumped out a spritely version of “If You’re Happy and You Know It (Clap Your Hands).” Clap, clap.

And since my personal vision for downtown Greensboro is more in tune with the Garden than Market Square, I carefully pile my arsenal of ballistics, ready to let them hurl.

But hold on there, pardner. I read through the piece and discover that the carousel, which should cost approximately $2 million, is an effort by the Rotary Club of Greensboro and is of particular interest to its president, Bernie Mann.

Now, I don’t really know enough about the organization to fling rocks at it and I’m familiar with some of its other projects in Greensboro – the playground at First Horizon Park comes immediately to mind. Also I know the list of members is comprised exclusively of Greensboroans who wield way much more influence than little ol’ me, including News & Record editor John Robinson, former Guilford County Sheriff Walter “Sticky” Burch and my own attorney and former Greensboro City Council member Don Vaughan.

And then there’s Bernie Mann himself, owner and CEO of Mann Media, publisher of Our State magazine and a man whose list of accomplishments and accolades makes me feel very small, indeed.

I’ve done some work for his company, and his checks always cleared, which makes him okay in my book. I also happen to know that he’s a New Yorker who met his wife while they were students at Adelphi University, which is right next to my junior high school. So there’s that.

I drop my rocks, hopefully before Mr. Mann knows I’ve stockpiled them.

Maybe it’s a good idea, I say to myself. For the kids and all.

This was before I spent the weekend taking care of my own children while my wife was out of town on business.

How did it go? Let me break it down by the numbers:

51: hours that my wife was out of the house

14: number of times one sibling reported another’s infractions of the house rules

8: number of crying jags embarked upon by a 4-year-old boy

4: number of said crying jags attributed to physical injury of his own doing

68: minutes of uninterrupted yardwork

25: number of meals prepared in our kitchen over the allotted time

4: cycles of pots, plates and cups run through the dishwasher

3: average number of drinking cups per day used by each child

0: words or gestures of thanks or appreciation from the children

1: number of food fights staged in the master bedroom, inspired by an overabundance of popcorn

2: incidences of impromptu artwork deployed on more or less freshly painted walls

1: number of spankings administered after discovery of said artwork

1: number of swats per spanking

1: household member who got her first taste of corporal punishment

4: household items irreparably damaged

37: total minutes spent in the corner by all three children

2: items confiscated and retired to a high shelf

1: instance of urination in the master bed

11: total times the words “I wish you were here” were uttered via telephone.

Luckily my wife made it home before I went all Alec Baldwin on their asses. Still, I can’t in good conscience endorse a carousel for my… exuberant… offspring. They don’t deserve it, for one. For another they’d likely break it. Or pee on it.

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