You probably never knew Mr. Roark. Had my luck been better, I, too, could say the same. He was the athletic director at Carteret Preparatory Academy for Boys in West Orange, New Jersey in 1970. He may have been the AD for the previous two centuries, based on the world-weariness with which he seemed to survive every day surrounded by hundreds of us little shirted and tied glow in the dark white preppie kids who thought the world was our oyster. I never knew his first name. He was so old he may have been born before first names were invented.
I remember him really only for one, beyond devastating, put-down of our physically gifted (though intellectually somewhat diminished) football halfback offered as a performance critique on a very long bus ride back from Admiral Farragut Military Academy after we had had our collective buttocks not-so surgically removed by their football team, highlighted by an (ahem) ill-advised quick kick by this halfback that hit our quarterback full in the face, knocking him out cold on the field, and causing the ball to roll into our own end zone where the Farragut entire team, including the bench, cheerleaders and very possibly the scoreboard operator all pounced it on their way to a triple-digit victory.
The only sound on the ride back on the Garden State Parkway was of the transmission gears shifting and we all sat forward on our seat cushions as Mr. Roark, a glutton for punishment if there ever was one (or maybe just someone trapped in a marriage he no longer liked who couldn’t afford a divorce), who traveled with every sports team to every away game, leaned into the aisle across from the halfback to offer the following (I remember it forty-five years later as if he had just said it): ‘if they put your brain in a mosquito’s a-s, it would roll around and make a noise like a BB in a boxcar.’
That’s the sound I heard a moment ago as I read this NBC news story and started shaking my head. The American Civil Liberties Union, everybody’s favorite punching bag when we yell at one another and pretend it’s a discussion, on exercising constitutionally guaranteed freedoms, is right in the thick of this one as they always are and as they were so long ago for even more egregious imbeciles who desired to exercise their right to be obnoxious in Skokie, Illinois. I suspect after a day in court representing their client, they scrub off with a metal brush under a chemical shower in the hopes of getting all of it off themselves.
I’m thinking the Klansmen’s ardor for highway clean-up will cool noticeably once they learn the color of the pavement they are seeking to patrol. Perhaps an arrangement can be made to allow them to clean the underside of the roadway. That way, their efforts shouldn’t disturb the flow of traffic and motorists can leave those left blinkers on all the way to the Florida Panhandle.