Introduction to the thunderdome

Geoff Bokuniewicz gives us his perspective on his hatred for cartwheels. Photo courtesy of

If you’re an astute reader, you might have read my previous columns in this space and wondered who was expressing all those excellent opinions, week after week, page after page.

Well, with due respect to my fellow writers, the answer is, of course, me.

I’m Geoff Bokuniewicz, and I’ll be kicking off my official column this week with an overview of my mission and a small piece.

I’m going to call this space that the Highland Echo (in coordination with the St. Ignatius School for Repeat Delinquents) gives me the only name that makes sense: The Thunderdome.

What’s a Thunderdome? Google directs the word to several things:an album, a poker table, a music festival and a “steel-cage jousting arena known as the Thunderdome.”

Of all the descriptions that the great and wonderful Internet has given me, the last one really stands out for what I’d like this column to be.

That’s not to say I want to literally step into a steel-cage jousting arena and take on all comers if they disagree with me about bananas, headphones, politics, glam rock or the Decemberists.

While that would actually rule in the most hardcore way possible, things that society has set up like “freedom from unwanted physical violence” and “The Virginia Anti-Dueling Act of 1810” prevent me from settling debates in the most just form possible.

So, I’ve decided to name my column in its honor, and in the spirit of men killing each other with lances in a cage, I hope you, my dear readers, write back if you feel like something I’ve said is incorrect or not exquisitely honored.

Think of it as a verbal joust, with pens instead of lances, and the postal service instead of horses. And very little blood spilled, unless you decide to write me a letter in blood, which is actually the preferred ink of our corporate sponsors here at the Highland Echo.

So, without further ado, I’d like to get the heads a-rollin’ with the first casualty of my insidious hatred: cartwheels.

Yes, I hate cartwheels.

I hate most everyone that does them, equally, all the way from senior gymnasts showing off to other seniors to those weird toddler competitions they have where parents try to prove that their kids are the greatest things since Blood, Sweat, and Tears (the band, not the things) because their children can do cartwheels at the age of three.

You see, I was always one of the kids who couldn’t do a cartwheel when I was little.

And for some reason, cartwheeling was allowed—nay—encouraged at the grammar schools of my youth.

Imagine for a second kids of all ages happily doing cartwheels on fresh-cut fields of grass, surrounded by good role models.

And then I must ask you: can you imagine anything more horrifying?

You see, there’s a silent minority that can’t do cartwheels. As I said, I couldn’t do one until about 9 or 10, and then I couldn’t do one well, and I eventually grew out of it, taking a moral stance that if one citizen of this great country cannot do one, I would abstain as well.

And I have. I haven’t done a cartwheel in about 11 years, and I don’t plan on doing one again.

It’s an inherently exclusive activity.

You wouldn’t choose to invite 30 kids of differing socioeconomic backgrounds to an unpaid-for amusement park trip because you would be called classist (or should, in my eyes), and likewise you shouldn’t invite 30 children to do cartwheels when there may be a couple who can’t or won’t.

Why is one form of bigotry tolerated but another isn’t?

It takes a man of great moral integrity to stand with the few against the tyranny of the many.

That’s what I am, and that’s what I plan to continue doing as long as the good editors of the Highland Echo and the good wardens of the School for Repeat Delinquents let me.

Won’t you join me in taking a stand against cartwheels? Or will you live out your life as an enabler or even outright supporter of societal shame towards the few?

Will you choose to stand for good, or will you do cartwheels?

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