Their Excuses Are Inexcusable

A recent survey of 1,500 Texas high school students to find the most creative new excuses given for absence, tardiness and missed homework proved that youngsters haven't lost their touch. Fred Bleeke, vice president of Concordia Lutheran College, and 16 of his senior teacher education students, who wanted "to be forewarned about the kinds of excuses we will be getting," found the most-used of the new excuses were broken garage door openers that kept cars hopelessly out of commission. But there was variety too. One student said: "My water bed leaked, and I spent two hours mopping up water." Another said: "Someone super-glued my car tires to the ground." Of course, many absences were attributed to illnesses. One boy claimed he had morning sickness, while another said he was suffering from jet lag. Confession must have been good for several souls. A tardy student admitted it was "total irresponsibility on my part." And another student who failed to turn in a homework assignment said: "My mother couldn't do it."

--When it comes to creativity in school, David VanWinkle, superintendent of the Alton, Ill., school district, has proved to be no slouch. The federal government sent the school district by mistake a document titled: "ANTITANK WEAPONS: Current and Future Capabilities." VanWinkle decided the unclassified report, written "in typical military" language, deserved some sort of response and wrote a letter entitled: "School Curriculum Response Analysis of Proposal or SCRAP 87-1" to Sen. William Proxmire (D-Wis.), renowned foe of wasteful government spending. VanWinkle said the English Department had attempted to apply Pentagonese in its literature classes. "However, Tolstoy's classic 'War and Peace' loses something with the new title 'Degraded and Benign Environments,' " his letter said. "And, certainly Arthur Miller's 'Attrition of a Salesman' may have less impact." He added that the Physics Department was excited about examining "kinetic energy warheads until the high school principal became alarmed about the likelihood of staff attrition due to suppressive counterfire from students in Saturday morning detention."

--Australian tycoon Alan Bond has paid $2.6 million for a condominium in Vail, Colo., which may be the highest price ever paid for a condo in Colorado. Sources familiar with the transaction said Bond, who won the America's Cup race in 1983, sent his lawyer to Vail to purchase the 3,500-square-foot unit. Records showed no lender was involved.

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