Appearances Can Be Deceiving

I recent­ly con­nect­ed on Face­book with an old friend from high school. I offered an apol­o­gy to her for my sad teenage ways and assured her I’ve spent decades get­ting my head out of my ass. She respond­ed with

Sounds like you’re being a lit­tle hard on yourself…You always seemed to have your act togeth­er — respon­si­ble job, car, etc.

Well, I did have a job. I worked at a cor­ner phar­ma­cy through­out high school. I have no doubt that my employ­er con­sid­ered me to be gold. I was con­sci­en­tious, depend­able, and com­pe­tent. So I con­cede that.

Car? No. I had no car. I had ready access to my moth­er’s Ply­mouth sta­tion wag­on. If she knew how I drove it, I would nev­er have been allowed to dri­ve a car belong­ing to my par­ents again. I street raced con­stant­ly. I was rou­tine­ly dri­ving 50, 60, 70, 80 or more in 30 and 40 mph zones. There was a train cross­ing that I drove over fre­quent­ly that was pitched just right so I could “jump” it (I don’t know if the car left the ground or not, but it sure felt like it. Peo­ple stand­ing on the cor­ner would dis­ap­pear as I came down the street after “land­ing”). There was one late night vari­a­tion of the game of chick­en that could have eas­i­ly end­ed with Mom’s car in the lake. I was a mani­ac. How I nev­er got caught I’ll nev­er know. I am pos­i­tive I am only alive today because I was always stone cold sober. Mom and Dad usu­al­ly kept cars for four years. They trad­ed that wag­on in two think­ing it was a lemon since it con­stant­ly need­ed brake work, sus­pen­sion, etc. But I nev­er scratched it.

OK. I con­cede the point that not doing drugs or drink­ing booze would be con­strued as hav­ing my act togeth­er. I did smoke though. And I had tried mar­i­jua­na three times and found it to have no effect oth­er than to smell bad and irri­tate my throat. I tried to like drink­ing but I could not stand the taste and the one time I got drunk felt like the end of the world the next morn­ing. I was­n’t sober from lack of effort to be otherwise.

I was a ter­ri­ble stu­dent. I had no clue what I want­ed to do in life. In ear­ly grades I always got good grades with­out hav­ing to put out any effort. So when the mate­r­i­al got hard­er I had no study skills to apply to it. I rarely stud­ied. I occa­sion­al­ly read assigned read­ing. If I liked the teacher (which usu­al­ly meant if the teacher liked me) I paid atten­tion in class and if I did not like the teacher I paid lit­tle atten­tion in class (and in one case I sim­ply slept through every class the entire year while sit­ting in the front row).

Then there was my vio­lent tem­per which I seemed to have no con­trol over (though I don’t believe it ever appeared while at school, and cer­tain­ly nev­er at work, so I must have had some con­trol). For­tu­nate­ly I was the prover­bial 98 pound weak­ling so I nev­er actu­al­ly inflict­ed harm on any­one while flail­ing away with my fists. Ves­tiges of that tem­per still linger.

So while I may have always seemed to have my act togeth­er, appear­ances can be deceiving.

5 thoughts on “Appearances Can Be Deceiving”

  1. Do you think she’ll for­give me, too ?

    Oh wait.

    I haven’t changed, have I ?

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