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.

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