Perhaps the only real benefits of attending an uptight bastion of screaming white assholes like Graland Country Day School -- outside of the gaggle of MILFs who assembled at the gate every day, MILFs who would rather let you and their children play with automatic weapons than properly monitor you -- were the school's trips. Like the morally bankrupt producers of some perverse reality-TV show, lusting after the airwaves' next truly fucked-up moment, Graland kept packing us up and shipping us out.
"Hey, I got an idea," some administrator must have said somewhere along the line, slowly sipping a highball in a wood-paneled trophy room, his seat a Mexican worker paid to crouch on all fours. "This school consistently yields the most impossibly ass-backward social landscapes anyone has ever seen, right? So what do you say we put these little bastards in cramped living spaces and take them on the road for a week? Can you imagine it? The ratings will be through the roof!"
"Sir, this is a school, not a television program."
"Quiet, Jeeves!" the administrator must have said, hurling his drink into the fire for dramatic effect. "Those charlatans at Kent Denver will simply shit their knickers when they get wind of this."
The trips were brutal. Outcasts were pushed even further down the social ladder; homely girls' eating disorders were cultivated through cruelty and contempt; lacrosse was glorified to a level not seen since the Aztecs. But we did visit a lot of cool places. Leadville, Creede, Mesa Verde, Taos. And for the ninth-grade trip, the big one: Washington, D.C.
The Graland parents yielded a wealth of powerful political contacts, and we were marched up and down the Hill all week, a snot-nosed troop of sixty paying court to our nation's leaders. Then-cabinet member Federico Peña had memorized each of our names, and as we passed through his office, lined up alphabetically, he addressed each of us by our first names. It was an impressive display of politicking, but the joke was on him: I switched places with the kid in front of me, and Peña called me Kevin. Kevin! Get a clue, Fed.
We met with then-Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, who visited with us just long enough to realize that our group lacked the sufficient minority presence necessary for a worthwhile photo op, then wandered off in search of his next Roast Beef and Cheddar. We sat with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, but were specifically forbidden from asking questions regarding pubic hairs.
And we met with Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell. From the get-go, this visit was different. Here was our state's senator, a real American Indian who rode motorcycles, wore a leather jacket and a ponytail, and had probably smoked peyote. We were impressed. Of all the politicians we visited, Campbell seemed the least like a politician. But as we grew older, those of us with any intelligence realized that despite the bells and whistles, Campbell was just that: a politician.
And what a politician! During his twelve years in office, Campbell was all over the map. He represented a traditionally underrepresented constituency, the American Indians, yet was given an anti-civil-rights voting tag by the ACLU. He was one of three Republicans to vote against making Yucca Mountain the nation's nuclear-waste dump, yet he authored a $500 million Animas-La Plata water project that infuriated conservationists. He even switched political parties, from Democrat to Republican, in 1995.
And since Campbell announced his retirement last March, his behavior has been as unpredictable as ever. He doled out more than $242,000 in staff raises at taxpayers' expense, skipped the last vote of his senatorial career to meet with casino magnate Steve Wynn in Las Vegas, and announced that he was endorsing an upcoming line of camping gear called "Nighthorse."
What's left? Glad you asked. Ben Nighthorse Campbell's resolutions for 2005:
: Expand "Nighthorse" label to include series of graphic Cherokee-on-white porno films
: Kill loose-lipped intern before gubernatorial race
: Cement legacy as Uncle Tomahawk
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: Finally accept lead role in sweeping Kevin Costner biopic Dances With Whoever Has Most Wampum
: Arrange ponytail transplant for Ken Salazar so legacy may live on in Senate
: Arrange for Celebrity Boxing match with Tonya Harding
: Purchase posh Platte Valley loft, pay entirely in Sacajawea coins.