Back to School: That’s Good, Right?


Ah, the lunches have been packed, the driveway mugshots taken, and our two progeny have officially slammed the screen door on another summer vacation with their return to school this morning.

Barb has gone to her office, and now it’s just me, the dog, and A HOUSEFUL OF WALL-RATTLING HARD ROCK. Guns N’ Roses would never be tolerated on the house stereo when people are up early, stumbling up and down the hall, trying to find hairbrushes and clean underpants. Musically, the egalitarian choice is Today’s Top Hits, which to my Ted Nugent-pummeled ear, all sounds alike.

But not today. Everyone leaves at 7:45 and at 7:46 I’m on the HIGHWAY TO HELL.

Hello, morning paper. What’s up? Good to see you, second pot of coffee. How about a nice leisurely breakfast of fried eggs, fat-laden hashbrowns and some forbidden sausage? Don’t mind if I do.

For now, I’ll ignore the two heaping baskets of clean laundry waiting for me in the living room. I don’t have to deliver or pick up or feed or dispense money to any kids for the next eight hours, so I’m back to setting my own schedule. First thing on the docket today is tucking into a big fry-up and perusing the Missoulian while .38 Special blares from the living room speakers. Okay, I could live without .38 Special. Maybe I’ll just put on the new Tom Petty CD I picked up when I was buying school supplies yesterday.

Well, *burp* I read most of these newspaper stories on the internet yesterday, except for the standard collection of letters to the editor from the same small handful of Western Montana crackbrains. Ferguson is Obama’s fault. Zinke is a liar. The Middle East hates us. Why don’t people control their dogs?

Well, maybe I’ll get a jump on that laundry.

Okay, all folded. Except for the fitted sheets. I cannot fold them into a perfect rectangle without using a pair of scissors, so I’m not too worried about it. I mean, what have you heard? Are there going to be locker inspections today?

As I deliver the clean clothes to the kids’ bedrooms, I sweep through and pick up all the dirty dishes, food wrappers, sticky glasses half-full of Sunny D, popsicle sticks, and other junk that tells me they are totally ready for life in the college dorms. With one junior and one senior this year, it’s not that far off.

Hmm. I wonder if they are having lunch yet? I put a little bonus in there today, a Tootsie Pop.

Okay, before I dive into today’s workload of writing, song charting and the rigmarole of dealing with an out-of-state family crisis, I’ll check my email.

Boy, I’m getting a lot of junk mails from these penis enlargement places. Hey, that’s funny—most of them seem to be coming from my wife’s account. Must be some glitch.

Wow, the internet is screaming fast today. Probably because the bandwidth isn’t being divided up between me, my daughter binge-watching some series on Netflix, and a bedroom full of teenaged boys splitting an Ethernet connection to play an online game called WarZone ScapeQuest BlackOps Death Hammertime or something. All I know is the game is a non-stop series of massive explosions.

No, all is quiet on the bedroom front. Maybe I’ll turn the ZZ Top down a few clicks. I suppose right about now the kids are catching up with friends they haven’t seen all summer. They have some stories to tell, that’s for sure. It’s been a whirlwind summer for them, with lots of travel, lots of outdoor action, parties, sports, everything we could cram in before that big bell sounded and called them back to class.

Back to School. Bob Wire.

What can I say? This is what I saw.

Not that they weren’t ready. Both Speaker and Rusty are fastidious about their appearance, and they put some thought into what they wanted to wear on the first day, just like pretty much every other kid in Missoula last night. Rusty has become a bit of a clothes horse, occasionally wearing a nice dress shirt and even a tie for no reason at all. Today, the first day of his senior year, he decided to buy a real bow tie and learn how to tie it. I resisted my urge to tell him it would be easier to just hand-letter a placard that says “Please Kick My Ass” that he could hang around his neck. But, apparently, times have changed somewhat since I was roaming the halls of Spiro T. Agnew Memorial High School back in the day, and this wouldn’t brand him as a Poindexter. The cursing and frustration coming out of his bathroom this morning prompted me to suggest a modest clip-on. He looked at me like I’d told him to wear his underwear on the outside. The kid knows a dozen different ways to tie a necktie, and he sees this as a challenge. He eventually got it together in time for the driveway mugshot. I handed him his lunch, clapped his shoulder, and told him to have a great day. “It’s going to be a great year,” he said, loping off toward his hand-me-down Subaru.

When the kids were still in elementary school I spent a lot more time at the school during the day. Nearly every day there was a forgotten item or three to deliver, sick kids to be picked up, or some volunteer opportunity that required a guitarist. By the time Rusty was in fifth grade, I would saunter down the hall between classes and be treated like a rock star. “Hey, Rusty’s dad! Are you gonna play that song about the dead dog?” “Hey, Rusty’s dad, did you ever get that stuff off your shoe?” Like that.

But these two young adults who left the house this morning seem to be able to get through entire weeks without Dad having to rush a forgotten permission slip or fresh asthma inhaler to the school. So I get to focus on my life here at home, working on my various projects and trying to keep the joint presentable.

Man, so many commercials on this radio station. Maybe I’ll punch it back to the Hits station. Just for a few minutes.

Is it 3:30 yet?

   Check out all of Bob Wire’s posts in his blog archive.


Have an off-white Christmas with Bob Wire.Think of it as Gonzo meets Hee Haw: Missoula honky tonker Bob Wire holds forth on a unique life filled with music, parenthood, drinking, sports, working, marriage, drinking, and just navigating the twisted wreckage of American culture. Plus occasional grooming tips. Like the best humor, it’s not for everyone. Sometimes silly, sometimes surreal, sometimes savage, Bob Wire demands that you possess a good sense of humor and an open mind.

Bob Wire has written more than 500 humor columns for a regional website over the last five years, and his writing has appeared in the Missoulian, the Missoula Independent, Montana Magazine, and his own Bob Wire Has a Point Blog. He is a prolific songwriter, and has recorded three CDs of original material with his Montana band, the Magnificent Bastards. His previous band, the Fencemenders, was a popular fixture at area clubs. They were voted Best Local Band twice by the Missoula Independent readers poll. Bob was voted the Trail 103.3/Missoulian Entertainer of the Year in 2007.

You can hear his music on his website, or download it at iTunes, Amazon, and other online music providers. Follow @Bob_Wire on Twitter.


MIM NewsletterLike this blog? Don’t miss another one. Sign up for our E-Newsletter.  It provides you with a list of all the week’s stories/blogs and is delivered to your inbox every Tuesday morning.