Look back, way back. Recall with me those glorious school days of the '30s, '40s and '50s, even if all we see is distorted by the rose lens of nostalgia.
No crime. No fences. No busing. (Remember? We trekked miles to class, barefoot in the snow, uphill both ways.)
We never talked back to teachers.
Everyone knew and loved everyone else.
God was in His Kingdom, and all was well.
Except. In those pre-Playboy, pre-Janet Jackson days of yore, hormone-crazed boys like me made do with dog-eared eight-pagers, Sears underwear ads, and the occasional National Geographic featuring naked pygmy women.
No wonder so many of us, sublimating money for sex, grew up to be horny millionaires, aggressive in the boardroom, bumblers in bed.
Personally, I'd rather be a kid in school today, especially here in Florida.
Consider Debra Beasley Lafave, the 23-year-old Tampa middle-school teacher, recently charged with having sex with her 14-year-old student. The deeds allegedly took place In her classroom, at her apartment and, once, in an SUV while the teen's 15-year-old cousin drove.
Check her out. Here's a woman who looks like she could teach a man to forget to grow old.
Of course it's way politically incorrect to say this, but why oh why did nothing like that ever happen to me when I was 14? Or 16 or 18? The closest I ever came was when Miss Seaberg's left breast flopped out of her blouse as she picked up a piece of chalk dropped while engaging in a bracing discussion on gerunds.
It wasn't the same.
In fact, nothing at Park Ridge, Illinois' Maine Township High School, circa 1950, was remotely as sexually engaging as any Florida school today. This explains a lot about the views and behavior of Hillary Clinton, the US Senator and National Honor Society member who graduated from the same school.
Today's high school kids regularly "hook up," a charming euphemism for sex without expectation. And at those religious institutions that Gov. Jeb Bush's educational system favors over public schools, kids signing chastity oaths are likely to exchange oral sex as part of a balanced study plan.
Although our governor always seems to be in a race to the bottom with his older brother's Texas record - most executions, least dollars spent on schools and social services, most gerrymandered state - our Jeb wins hands down in the "graduating seniors" category, placing dead last with less than half of entering high school students earning a diploma.
Yet, to be a student today means never having to say you're sorry.
In the name of building self-esteem, school these days is a place, like Lake Woebegone, "where all the grades are above average."
Not only does everyone get A's (We wouldn't want to hurt anyone's feelings, would we?) but also there are never, ever any losers (except of course when the student leaves school and hits the wall of reality).
In Phys Ed what we used to call gym students take bases after striking out and jump rope with no rope. Nothing is ever present to trip up on.
Unlike those stern days when you and I were in school, teachers today are the students' friends. Buddies, even. (Occasionally much more!) Just as contemporary parents often feel that it's more worthy to be a sidekick than a disciplinarian, some teachers today share that view even as they share their booze and garage-grown marijuana. A science project, no doubt.
In our day, we felt lucky to get a smile.
As if it weren't already perfect in Paradise today, the National Rifle Association has just added frosting to the academic cake. Governor Bush is about to sign a bill that will allow any Floridian to shoot anyone, anywhere, anytime. If it's "reasonable."
Ain't that great! Let's face it, few of us ever feel unreasonably murderous. And what that means in school is that from now on bullies; even slowpokes and teachers' pets are fair game.
So until kids reach puberty, they can still find diversion blowing away anyone who gets in their face - bullies, teachers, parents, all are equal under this law.
Ah, to be a kid again! In Florida.