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The Rise and Fall of Dieter Lee September 24, 2008

Posted by Master Shake in General blog.
1 comment so far

Today I am supposed to be consulting a client in Des Moines, IA on how to restore the interior of the old city library.  But instead, I’ve decided that I would rather be consulting some spiced wafers on how best to be eaten–by me. It was easy work, the client totally agreed that I was the best person for the job.

My number one client

My number one client

So while I was advising the Sweetzels, I had a random flashback to 5th grade.  Our story takes place at an elementary school in suburban Bucks County, on a warm spring afternoon, during what was then known as Field Day.  I think it’s Self-esteem Day or maybe Everyone’s a Winner Day now.  The story isn’t so much about what happened to me as it is about what happened to this kid, whose name happened to be Dieter Lee.

Dieter Lee was relatively nondescript, but had a small following based mostly upon his wise-cracking attitude and swagger.  He was that kid with a smirk on his face who called your mom some name while his toadies laughed.  Mostly harmless, but one of those people you wanted to see get punched in the mouth at least once.

Field Day would prove to be a fateful one for Dieter Lee, because as it turned out, he was the fastest kid in the school.  Now, instead of being the leader of a small gang of creeps, he was the most popular kid in town–in 10 year-old terms, it was sort of like W. getting elected President, because now his smirk had some power behind it.  To use the immortal words, he had political capital and he intended to spend it.  Which he did, doing popular kid stuff like “going out with” the painfully cute blond Lori Ann So-and-So, or getting to eat his lunch at recess.  Total BS.  Eventually, as was foretold, he was made captain of the district Field Day team, and would represent us in the only event that mattered to anybody, the 100-yard dash.  I managed to make the relay team, but that was sort of like being the world’s tallest midget.  The real glory was the sprint, and the smug Dieter Lee was already guaranteeing a victory at the district final.

Training Tomorrows Leaders

Field Day: Training Tomorrow's Leaders

So a couple of weeks later we loaded up some school buses and headed over to the High School, where the district Field Day was held in the big football stadium.  Our elementary school would compete against 4-5 other schools.  Because it was 1980, and former hippies were now teachers, we had cool tie-dyed shirts to distinguish our group.  Anyway, after a relatively poor performance by the whole team, and especially my disastrous last-place finish in the relay, I was content to hit the stands and watch and wait for the big moment when our school would be crowned the Lords of elementary school sports. Our savior would be Dieter Lee; as much as I disliked him, I had to root for my team.

So the big event came: the 100 yard dash.  Our squad of neo-hippies gathered in the stands, anxiously awaiting the gun.  Somewhere in the back of the crowd, a very faint chant began, that soon grew into a cacophonous refrain “Dieter LEE! Dieter LEE! Dieter LEE!”.  We all screamed.  The other schools were drown out.  By sheer force of will alone, we would win this event and be redeemed.

The gun sounded, and they were off.  It was looking good for the first half, Dieter Lee was out in front!  Our glee quickly turned to dismay, as three other sprinters overtook him in the final stretch.  He finished fourth, just ahead of a kid who later on in life would be a star of the track team.  Go figure.

Weeks later came the end of the school year, and eventually, the end of elementary school.  Dieter Lee’s star had faded.  He didn’t show up in our new school in the fall.  I’m sure it was because he had moved or his parents had converted to Catholicism and stuck him in parochial school. Or maybe he was so humiliated by his collapse he could not return.

I like to think that it was the latter, because cosmically, he was finally punched in the mouth.

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