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.