M. SCOTT MORRIS: Impromptu conversation on cheating



My daughter did a bunch of sneezing and nose-blowing on Thursday, so she called to ask me to take her home from school.

“It’s hard to pay attention,” she said.

The school nurse reported that the “hard to pay attention” line was popular among Milam students. She also said Olivia had no fever.

I made a Daddy decision and told Olivia to tough it out.

My boss and one of my co-workers heard my end of the conversation and gave me thumbs-up.

“We’ve all had to work through runny noses,” Ginna Parsons said.

I felt good about sending Olivia back to class, and certainly don’t blame the nurse or anybody at the Mighty Daily Journal for my decision.

A little while later, my lunch was interrupted by another call.

“Daddy, it’s really bad,” she said, sounding pathetic.

“I’m coming,” I said.

That space between the bottom of her nose and the top of her lip was red and inflamed, like some slightly off-target Rudolph-the-Red-Nosed-Reindeer thing.

“Baby, I’m sorry I didn’t pick you up earlier,” I said.

On the way home, we stopped for pricey tissue infused with lotion.

The radio was on NPR, and people were discussing the upcoming Olympics and performance-enhancing drugs.

“I know about that,” Olivia said. “That’s steroids.”

“But I think they call it performance-enhancing drugs because it’s not just steroids,” I said. “They also take other things to get an edge in competition.”

We talked about how athletes use a variety of banned methods to increase their strength and speed.

I had to be honest and say that a certain percentage of humans beings will cheat when given the chance.

“There’s always somebody looking for a shortcut,” I told her.

I hated the cynicism of that statement, though it’s undeniably true in athletics, as well as politics and any other human endeavor.

Republicans are correct to say some poor people take advantage of the safety net and Democrats are right in saying some wealthy people use power and influence to tilt the playing field their way. Craziness takes over when we pretend all poor people are unworthy and all rich people are uncaring.

I didn’t discuss politics with Olivia, but I did say, “I think most people play by the rules. That’s why it’s important to catch those who break them.”

Maybe it’s naive of me, but I believe most people are good people, including athletes and politicians who play for teams I usually root against.

Later that evening, Olivia seemed more energetic than I thought someone who left school early should be, and I told her so. I was wondering, Had she played me?

“I feel better after my nap, Daddy,” she said, and I was strangely relieved by how snotty and stopped-up she sounded and how red and inflamed that spot between her lip and nose looked.

M. Scott Morris is a Daily Journal feature writer. Contact him at (662) 678-1589 or scott.morris@journalinc.com.

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