And now, as the sun sets slowly in the West…. End of competition and return to God’s country (Garrettsville, in case you didn’t recognize the description).
The contests, across so many topics and fields, illuminated our strong points and our areas ripe for improvement. All team members made some critical contributions—math, nineteenth century literature, scientific notation, historical events, whatever—at some time or other. Zoe Swenson is the “go-to” individual for literature and “the arts”, Joe Emrick carried a lot of the load in history. Captain Christian Crawford is a reliable polymath, across the board, and as a leader he gave Jack Lawrence a seat at the competition to prep for next year; Kevin Splinter does amazing things with numbers in his head and, more often than not, nails questions on mythology. Not hard to see why I call them the Quiz Masters.
Then there’s the element of pure luck. One of the parts of the format which this particular organization follows is that at a certain point a team may choose from a selection of four topics for their next set of questions. The team then gets ten questions to answer for a designated number of points each. Any questions which the first team cannot answer then go to the opposing team and they may get the points. Then the roles reverse. During one particular match, we jumped on “MVP’s in the NFL”, because our rising senior, Kevin Splinter, is a whiz at sports statistics (among other things); we rolled on that one. Later, same situation, the selections were not particularly to our liking but we chose “Short stories”…apparently not ones which we had read…and the other team took “the Hajj” (one of the Five Pillars of Islam, the pilgrimage which every good Muslim should make at some time in his/her life) to rack up a stack of points. Not one of our finer moments. Next year’s new recruits will get a chance to up the ante and carry us to an even better showing.
One interesting break on Saturday night was the Coaches versus Parents competition. It was also an opportunity for senior team members attending to serve as readers/moderators with a chance to be chosen to return the following year to fill that position officially; there are presently three venues for the competition—Washington, D.C., New Orleans and Chicago—some new sites are under consideration, which don’t sound too shabby either. I think that one was to be in Atlanta and one in San Francisco. Anyhow, Garfield was well represented when Amy Crawford stepped up to the plate and helped the Parents’ team pull off a tie. This was not a “Chicago Black Sox” situation; we coaches were just a little disorganized, that’s all (I know that you’ll have difficulty believing that of me.).
So when our competition came to an end, we had a chance to kick back, observe other teams compete, pack up ready to leave, just like the Army… ”Hurry up and wait.” One of the teams from the other bus in our convoy, the Hawken School elementary group was in the finals and eventually took all of the marbles in that division, unfortunately it also took quite a long time, longer than usual. Then they had a celebratory lunch while we waited…and waited.
The waiting was fraught with uncertainty too. Remember that one of our buses—the one we were on—broke down on our way in. It sort of hung around the hotel for a while then it was gone. We just assumed that it was probably getting repaired and would, eventually, take us home. But, on the day, no bus was in evidence. The other bus driver had made occasional appearances during the weekend but didn’t seem real sure about what was happening. Neither was anyone else.
Turned out that what was happening was that our bus could not be repaired in time for the return trip, so the bus company had to scuffle frantically around the Chicago area to find another bus company that had an available bus—and driver–which could ferry us home. Well, that must have been fun!
At long last a bus turned up—Prairie Trails or something on the side—and we hefted all of our goods and chattels into the baggage space or up into the overhead space (We managed to rescue some of the snack foods from the wounded bus to tide us over during the trek homeward). Wagons Ho!
Well, sort of. This bus had a pretty flashy lady bus driver(What a manicure!) and was making pretty good time but it soon became apparent that it did not have much of an air conditioning system. It was still plenty warm that Monday (Reminds me of a menu in the vegetarian restaurant in Kent which described the hotness of its salsas as “mild…summer in Ohio…center of the earth”). The kids in the back from Shaker were sweltering and we were noticing the lack of chill too. None of this was remedied by the rest stops when we stepped out into ninety-some degrees. The lead bus driver popped the rear panel, fiddled with something and improved things somewhat, then we drove on into the afternoon and evening. And drove and drove.
There was cellphone communication to give everyone a heads-up about when we would arrive at our pick-up point. That’s another story altogether. But we pulled into the parking lot at the Streetsboro Wal-Mart and spotted a James A. Garfield bus waiting for us. Dreama Adkins never looked so good, bless her heart.
The home parking lot looked equally good; everyone had a car waiting to whisk them home and whisk they did. I’m waving good-bye as they pulled away. Dreama, good woman that she is, hauled me and my pile of stuff home so that I wouldn’t turn into a pumpkin somewhere on the road when the clock struck twelve.
The cats sort of noticed when I came in.