Friday, September 26, 2014

Nurse the Hate: The Brown Group

I was speaking with my neighbor yesterday.  He coaches swimming to young kids.  He told me that the kids have been broken up into three basic groups; Red, Blue and Brown.  The Red Group are the kids that are really good and are part of "travel swimming", which must be 12 year old version of being in the Rolling Stones in 1969.  Those kids must pull a lot of ass in the pools at The Holidomes when they are on the road.  "That's right baby.  I just blew into Ft. Wayne tonight for a meet tomorrow.  Whattya say we get to know each other a little better in my suite upstairs...  Bring some change for the vending machine." 

The Blue Group are the kids that are pretty good and are working towards getting inside the golden gates of the Red Group and enjoying the spoils of that association.  These are kids with some potential, which separate them from the dreaded Brown Group.  Those are the kids that are horribly overweight or somehow have no natural buoyancy.  They have been placed in swimming as an activity geared towards heading off their parent's grim vision of their future.  I mean, no one wants to be the parent of a kid that might never leave the basement with a life devoted to video games and serial masturbation.  I get it.  There aren't many that escape the clutches of The Brown Group though.  It's a nature vs nurture argument that has confounded scientists for decades. 

First of all, while I think there is some merit to naming the groups by colors as opposed to "Champions", "Contenders" and "Losers", children are generally alert enough to pick up on the fact that they have been labeled as a de facto "loser" by being in such an unsexy color group as "brown".  Even if the color name alone wasn't an indication of their place in the pecking order, just a casual look around to see that they have been placed in a group with pale asthmatics and soft pudgy kids waiting on a bench while the athletic kids glide through the pools like seals should answer any questions.  While the intention of building confidence through physical achievement is admirable, it actually has the opposite effect.  "Attention everyone!  The popular boys are now in the pool!  Gaze upon this motley crew of misfits!  These are my people!  I am them and they are me!"

When I first moved to Erie PA as an eight year old it was midyear in school.  The teachers, as opposed to figuring out what my reading level was, decided to start me in the bottom group.  I suppose they wanted me to fight my way through the ranks like a boxer.  As I recall, the top group were "The Red Roses" as the majority of the group were girls.  The bottom group were something like "The Brown Bananas".  On the first day I looked around my new group and saw one kid that kept crawling around on the floor, and one that I had already identified as a paste eater.  These were the misfits.  Oh, I'm sorry... They were "special needs".  At the time, they were tackling "Rover Walks To School" while the Red Roses were knee deep in "Crime and Punishment".  We met in a special room by the hot water tank in the basement while the Red Roses sat in the sunshine in special chairs.  I used all my eight year old guile to get myself out of what was an elementary school version of a minimum security prison. When it was my turn to read, I buzzed through the entire book while the teacher kept demanding that I stop to allow others to struggle through sentences like "He was a good dog".  I moved up the ranks that week until I eventually became a "Red Rose".  It was then that the boys demanded a vote in the group name.  With my ascension and one of the girls being demoted, the "Red Roses" shockingly became the "Red Rockets".  It was all belly laughs and back slaps on the playground for me that day. 

As I think about it, most of my once fellow compatriots in The Brown Group remained in different versions of The Brown Group forever.  Was that because they didn't have the genetic gifts to achieve in 21st Century America?  Or was it they had been labeled and then even they themselves felt like they were always second best?  Granted, that kid David that ate paste whenever we made crap out of construction paper was never going to be a scholar.  Bob, one of the others, is currently sitting in prison for bashing his dealer's head in with a baseball bat and then tossing the body over a fence like that would solve the problem.  Hmmm...  I don't know if I will ever attend one of those swim meets, but if I do, I'm keeping my eyes out for The Brown Group.  


At September 29, 2014 at 10:12:00 PM EDT , Blogger Inthon said...

Greg, I share your posts with my wife. They are hysterical. I literally laughed out loud at "he was a good dog". Your website is one of the highlights of my boring, white-collar job.

At September 30, 2014 at 10:02:00 AM EDT , Blogger Greg Miller said...

It's all about providing a distraction to corporate profitability. That's the true reward.


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