This response to the memoir prompt of Missed Opportunities looks at a question I ask regretfully ask myself quite often…
I have written volumes about what growing up was like for me; the cold war, alcoholism, racial tension, sexual abuse, and moving to a new town at a critical juncture in my life. At times, when I reflect on what I have written, it seems I may be pointing a finger at every possible excuse I can find, but I never point it back at me. I never talk about where I went wrong by my own actions or inactions. Well, I cannot honestly write about this particular missed opportunity, attending an out of state college, without putting the blame squarely on my shoulders.
I blew off my entire senior year of high school. Oh, I attended all my classes and did not even participate in Senior Skip Day, but I still took the year off.
I was talked into (yes, peer pressure) enrolling in a business education program for my senior year; a program that would account for well over half my required credits. Distributive Education was a class that educated the enrolled students in the fine arts of marketing and product disbursement. Because of the ‘specialty’ status of the classes, they fell into the vocation education category and pretty much set out a sign, for any of the students enrolled, that read “Not Interested In College”.
So, in a school that served the fastest growing community in Ohio during the mid-1970’s, and graduated nearly 500 of my fellow classmates, no guidance councilors had time to seek out every potential college bound candidate, nor did I seek their advice; which brings me to the weed.
I discovered pot during the early days of my last year in high school. When I started smoking it, I told myself that I wouldn’t smoke it more than once a week. Bullshit; by the time May rolled around, I was smoking it about once every 6 hours. I was a full blown stoner who started living the culture. Which meant, although I wanted to attend college, it had to be local because I didn’t want to lose my day to day contacts in the Marijuana Social Network.
So now we have grass, a nowhere business program, and a two way apathetic relationship with the school’s councilors that all collided to provide me with the glorious “I don’t give a shit” attitude that made up my senior year.
One thing I did do was maintain my 3.8 something-something G.P.A. all through school; which netted me one offer, which I didn’t even seek out, complete with grant packages.
Now, before I mention the missed opportunity, I want to do a little time travel to both one year before my senior year and one year after. My junior English teacher was hired by the school system to primarily be a baseball coach; what the board didn’t realize was they also hired what was surely to be a legend as one of the best, if not toughest, English teachers the system ever had.
The juniors who did not draw that teacher let out a sigh that could be heard in Johannesburg, and for good reason (or so they thought).That teacher drilled those of us who did get him like we were in Spring Training. We felt like we were enduring two-a-days every time we sat through one of his 40 minute classes. I sweat over, cried, moaned, and lived what he told us would be the most important thing we ever took away from high school; the Five Paragraph Theme. He was beautiful in his teaching us that technique
I mastered that process and still use it to this day. In fact, a year after my senior year, I was enrolled at Wright State University and once again had the complete misfortune of being scheduled with another tough nut English teacher (or prof in this case). The Five Paragraph Theme helped me maintain a low 90’s for that semester, because the prof was cold, unforgiving and didn’t care for the topics I wrote about (The Great White Flight from Dayton and I Would Rather Be on the Quad Drinking Beer than in Here were two titles), but marveled at the structure of my work and the compelling way I supported my arguments with that structure.
“Bullshit,” exclaimed one upper classman when I told him who my English prof was and what my G.P.A. was in her class. “You lie.”
So, I showed him my lower 90’s and he said, “Damn, that’s excellent, because the joke is, Hemingway would have struggled to reach 80 in her class.”
Now, all this to reach that monumental what if that this prompt is all about. Drake University, in Iowa, had sought me out to enroll in their School of Journalism. The grant package was impressive, but the offer wasn’t quite enough to shake me loose from the apathetic daze I had slipped into.
I have to wonder, and often do, what if I had taken that path and excelled? Where would I be now? What would my writing be like?
The effect on my writing would most assuredly have been one that resulted in cleaner, more structured matter-of-fact style; maybe. Maybe I would always retain my freestyle, raw and honest approach. It’s impossible to know what the outcome would have been, but the fact remains that I didn’t take the offer and I have a wealth of experiences, both dismal and wondrous, to write about.
I can only blame myself for blowing off my senior year of high school and missing out on another life all together.
Related Post: Who Needs High School? Educate Yourself
© 2020, Alex Crabtree. All rights reserved.
Years ago I started writing Flash Fiction for just the sheer enjoyment of writing, and now it has turned into a full blown addiction. I can't quit the horse, man! Another dirty little secret about me is my ability to write all kinds of web content. SEO content, articles, blog posts, manifests; you name it, I'll write it. Looking for some help? My gun hangs at firstname.lastname@example.org
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