How I spent my summer vacation — will there be cookies?

Burt's Eye View

Remember those first essay assignments of the school year? Teachers tried to ease us kids back into the classroom drudgery by assigning us to write how we spent our summer vacation.

It was the very topic most of us jabbered about right up to the ringing of the class bell. Now our minds were as blank as the fresh pages of line paper lying on our desks.

Over the summer, we’d jammed and packed more adventures into our 10 or so weeks off than seemed humanly possible — games, picnics, bruises, trips, bike rides, broken bones, birthdays, swimming, snake hunts…

Thing after thing, stuff after stuff, craziness after craziness, we did it all, and then some. And we were only getting started when the new school year rudely interrupted the best parts of our plans.

Now we’d been ripped away from the awesomeness, returned to our classroom captivity and bludgeoned by that annual exercise in torture, “How I Spent My Summer Vacation.”

It would take days to write EVERYTHING. Our brains would overheat, and our arms would cramp and fall off.

Plus, we were convinced that a teacher’s main job was to make kids miserable. Scribble all the exciting stuff and those heartless teachers would cackle over all the fun they ruined by heaping coal bins of homework upon our heads.

So I sharpened my pencil, pulled a single sheet of paper from my notebook and wrote:

“How I Spent My Summer Vacation, by Burton Cole

“It was awful. Dad made us bale hay all summer. I got to drive the tractor, so that was OK. Except for when I smashed through the barn door. I didn’t get to drive the tractor anymore. That’s about it. The End.”

See, if we made it sound like it was a relief to be back in school, we’d confuse those sadistic teachers. Maybe they’d feel sad for us and get the room mothers to bake cookies and throw us parties instead of pop quizzes. Maybe.

I know now that I had that all figured wrong. Many of my teachers were actual human beings, and some were even nice. And it would have been far more entertaining if we kids had assigned them to write essays on how they spent their summer vacations.

Now here I sit, decades later, freshly returned from time off from work, with no idea what to write in this week’s column. My computer screen is as blank as my appointment book.


“How I Spent My Summer Vacation, by Burton Cole

“Terry and I did nothing. We didn’t visit anybody. We didn’t tour anything. We made no appointments and kept no schedule. We didn’t carry our cellphones. Anytime either of us had an idea of something to do, we took a nap or read a book devoid of any deep thoughts until the feeling went away. We did nothing. It was glorious. That’s about it. The End.”

I hope my bosses read this, feel sad and bake me cookies instead of heaping in-boxes full of assignments upon my head.

(These days, a week or two unjammed and unpacked of any adventures actually is a thrilling summer vacation. It’s the bliss of doing nothing. I was just getting started when the return to work rudely interrupted the best part — six more comic books and three more naps.

But don’t tell my bosses this. I’m hoping for the cookies. It might work. Maybe.)

— Vacate with Cole at burtseyeview@tribtoday.com, on the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook or @BurtonWCole on Twitter.