Last week, I wouldn't have been caught dead with one of those "My-Child-Was-Named-Student-of-the-Month-at-Blah-Blah-Blah-Elementary-School" bumper stickers on my car.
While parental pride is very nice, I believed, you've got to draw the line somewhere. And advertising your kids' scholastic achievements on the family station wagon seemed a good place to start.
Today, however, I'm a changed dad. You see, my 11-year-old daughter has been named Student of the Month. And there's a bumper sticker on my car to prove it.
Back in the '60s, there was a short-lived TV series called "The Guns of Will Sonnett," starring Walter Brennan as an Old West patriarch who rarely stopped praising the gunslinging abilities of his sons and who concluded each of those monologues with, "No brag, just fact."
Clearly, these bumper stickers fall into the same category. Mikhail Gorbachev won the Nobel Peace Prize; no brag, just fact.
Katherine Hepburn is a four-time Oscar winner, no brag, just fact.
My daughter was named Student of the Month; no brag, just cold, hard, undeniable fact.
That's why I felt no shame as I adhered the bumper sticker to my car, phoned all our relatives with the big news, constructed a three-story float for the girl's gala victory parade, and mass-mailed the following press release.
BURKETT ACES COMPETITION, SWEEPS 'STUDENT OF THE MONTH' HONORS
In a stunning triumph that did not surprise her parents, girl wonder Bonzai Burkett, 11, was elected Student of the Month at Hannibal Lecter Elementary School, beating out millions of eligible youngsters nationwide. Including yours.
The unusually gifted fifth-grader was honored for "consistent improvement" in the areas of "maintaining a tidy work station, penmanship, punctuality and finding her place in line during fire drills. In addition to a handsome certificate, Bonzai also received a bumper sticker and a coupon for one free video rental. Asked how she would "spend" her prize, the budding genius replied, "Beats me. My dad glued that to our car, too."
The Hannibal Lecter student body (aka "The Losers") learned of the election results from Bonzai's father, who ran through the school corridors screaming, "my daughter was named student of the month and you weren't! HA, HA, HA, HA, HA!"
The scene turned ugly when he was physically removed from the school grounds by several third-grade crossing guards, whom the elder Burkett described as "the first of the petty, jealous 'little people' Bonzai's gonna forget the very second she becomes a staple celebrity on "The New, New New Hollywood Squares."
Within a few hours of the girl's landslide win, the state of Arizona had already begun to report enormous economic benefits.
"We've never seen anything like it," gushed a spokesperson for the Arizona Board of Tourism. "Bonzai's home has already replaced Graceland as the nation's most popular vacation destination, and no wonder the tour is cheaper, the gift shops offer a wider variety of merchandise, and Bonzai isn't a dead fat guy."
Meanwhile, Bonzai's father admitted that while he is "very proud" of his daughter, "I remain deeply sympathetic toward all those less fortunate mothers and fathers like you who are doomed to spend all eternity bumper stickerless.
"Therefore, I have very generously printed up 7 million four-color, glow-in-the-dark bumper stickers which read, 'Michael Burkett's Child Was Named Student of the Month at Hannibal Lecter Elementary School.' I'll be passing them out directly after the gala victory parade."
Now you know. The only thing more annoying than a proud parent with a bumper sticker is a proud parent who writes for your local newspaper.