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If I were king of the world

I was cleaning out a closet last week and got sidetracked when I ran into a box of old photographs - and when I say old, we are talking 35 years or so old. You can't just set a box of old photos aside, you know. You have to stop and go through them, which is exactly what I did.

You need to understand that I wasn't much of a photographer back in the '70s, and the only camera I owned was one of those little Instamatics. You remember, they were the ones with the little rotating flashcubes on top. My point being that the photos weren't really that good from a clearly technical standpoint, but oh, the images they captured! And the memories they brought back!

My favorite picture in the whole bunch was of a thin young man with rather long hair - and when I say rather long, I mean by today's standards. The hair was thick and brown and covered the young man's ears and hung loosely above his shoulders. Let's suffice it to say that I wouldn't let my son grow his hair that long - and, in fact, I sent him to the barber shop just this week to prevent that very thing from happening.

Actually, I sent him to a beauty salon and not a barber shop, but that's another story for another day.

Meanwhile, back to the photograph. The long-haired guy in the picture was dressed in a rather ridiculous outfit. He had on a form-fitting Banlon T-shirt and bell-bottomed pants - white with bright orange stripes. Worst of all were the two-toned, blue suede shoes he wore. They were stacks with about 2-inch soles. He was staring at the camera from behind mirrored, aviator-style sunglasses.

In case you haven't already guessed, the guy in the picture was me, although it took me several seconds to actually realize it. I couldn't believe that I had once looked - and dressed - like the person in the picture. But as soon as I recognized myself in the photograph, I remembered exactly when it had been taken.

It was back in the early '70s, and my friends and I were on our way to Atlanta Stadium. Not to see a Braves game, understand. We had much larger fish to fry on this particular occasion. We were going to see Three Dog Night in concert.

If you are old enough to be reading this column, you are old enough to remember Three Dog Night - or maybe even too old - but they did "Eli's Coming," "Easy to be Hard" and their most famous song, "Joy to the World." Not the one we sing at Christmas. The one that begins, "Jeremiah was a bullfrog."

Now I told you all of that to tell you this. There is one line in that old Three Dog Night song that goes, "If I were the king of the world, I tell you what I'd do."

Well, I'm not king of the world, but if I were, I'll tell you what I'd do.

I'd do away with about 90 percent of the meaningless, grade-inflated, standardized tests that schoolchildren have to take and let classroom teachers have time to teach.

While we are on that subject, I would also tell those so-called students whose sole purpose in life is to distract others from learning that they just have to go on and find somewhere else to be all day. We are so intent on not leaving any child behind that we are holding a whole generation back. And I would make August a part of summer again.

If I were king of the world, Brian Nichols' trial would be fair, but it would also be short and sweet. I would not allow the public to forget who the real victims are in the tragedy that took place a year ago today. And the people who were in charge of the Fulton County Courthouse on that day would be on trial, too.

If I were king of the world, I would let Dubai operate our ports as long as they promised not to let Michael Jackson leave their country. I would also shorten college football games by giving the meanest player on either team permission to take out the guy in the red hat who monitors commercials if he wanders onto the field more than once every 20 minutes or stays one nanosecond past two minutes when he does walk out there.

And lastly, if I were king of the world, Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa and that whole dirty bunch would have their statistics expunged from the record books and never play another inning. And Pete Rose would be immediately inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Of course, I am not king of the world, so I can't do any of those things. I can allow my son, Jackson, to let his hair grow a little longer before I send him back to the beauty shop and maybe I will. Or maybe I'll just put this old picture back in the closet and forget about the whole thing.

Darrell Huckaby is an author and high school history teacher who lives in Rockdale County. Visit his Web site at www.darrellhuckaby.net. His column appears on Saturday.