Ah yes, I remember my junior high days fondly. Those were the days, weren’t they? What? They weren’t??? Let’s recap, shall we?
Growing up in a small town meant there was only one high school and one junior high school. There were two elementary schools feeding into the junior high school which meant you knew half of your classmates when you entered the 7th grade. You knew who the kids from the other school were because you hated them! Well, I guess hate is too strong a word, but they were not cool! It didn’t take long to make new friends (even from the dark side) because we were lumped together in a variety of classes.
Our school was experimenting with “tracks” which meant the smart kids were in Track 1, the almost smart kids were in Track 2, the almost dumb kids were in Track 3, and the dumb kids were in Track 4. It didn’t take long for us to realize that was going on because you always saw the same kids in every class and you wondered what happened to some of those kids you used to know. Of course they based this classification on those standardized tests we were forced to take. I always did well with those tests, so I was put in Track 1. That was not necessarily a good thing! This meant I had to work hard to keep up! I actually had to pay attention and do the homework! Why couldn’t they put me in Track 2 so I could coast for the next two years? It didn’t help that I was following one year behind my sister who suffered from such an intense desire to please the teachers that she became an overachiever. I entered 7th grade with the teacher’s expectation that I too would overachieve. I was happy with just achieving! So I was deemed to be a student who was “not living up to his abilities.” It’s not true! My abilities include not really caring about pleasing authority figures, so I was right on target!
Socially, I was way ahead of my time! I really knew how to talk to the ladies! If I liked a girl, I would make sure she knew it by how I never talked to her. There is one girl I remember from the 7th grade who ended up becoming my “girlfriend.” I never held her hand, and I never kissed her! Somehow she found out I liked her and she liked me, so we became an item for a week. I’m not exaggerating! It lasted one week! At the end of the week, she decided she couldn’t handle my awesomeness and she moved on. I think I said, “okay, that’s cool,” and then I breathed a huge sigh of relief because I really had no clue what I was doing! I’m sure to this day that I ruined the other guys’ chances with her because she will always compare them to me. Trust me – my skills did not improve when I reached the 8th grade! Or the 9th grade. Or yesterday!
How about gym class? I’m sure my athletic skills would help me excel in gym class! This was the only class that started with changing into our gym clothes, moved on into sports like dodgeball, volleyball, track & field, and every other sport except for one I may have excelled in, and then ended with nudity in the locker room! At least in the locker room, I could show off my advanced puberty skills, right? Oh wait, why does that guy have so much hair down there? Are you supposed to be that hairy??? He even has hair in his armpits! What the fuck is going on here?!?! If this happened to me today, I’d blame it on manscaping gone wild! ”Oh, you didn’t know this is how the girls like it? My girlfriend loves it like this!” I spent most of the 7th grade gym class wrapped in a towel.
Okay, so shop class should be good, right? That’s the class where you learn to use tools to make things. One of the larger employers in our town was a company that made tools. If you wanted to work in that factory the rest of your life, you better excel at shop class! So, while one guy was making an elaborate table leg with the lathe, and another guy was making a cabinet with a door and everything, this guy was using a band saw to cut wood into what I thought would be a Volkswagen Bug. It was going to be a pen holder with the pen in the middle of my Bug. So I cut the wood carefully into the shape of a Volkswagen. I sanded it down, lacquered it up, and presented it to the teacher (who, if memory serves, was missing a finger or two – or maybe that’s wishful thinking). He took one look at my Volkswagon, turned it upside down and declared it to be the funniest looking Mickey Mouse he had ever seen! Now I’ll never get that job in the factory!
Okay, so maybe junior high wasn’t all that good. Then again, I think my sense of humor is stuck there! Many of the things that made me laugh then make me laugh now. They all involve bodily functions like farting, farting with your hand in your armpit, farting by blowing on the palm of your hand, belching, swallowing air so you could belch again, saying the alphabet while belching. The list is endless! One persistent rumor was that a football player set the record by farting for 14 seconds. I wonder who thought to time that! That guy is probably working for ESPN now.
As for me? The awkward, nerdy kid became an accountant. I figured out a long time ago that you can try to fit in where you don’t excel and look like a tool, or you can fit in doing what you do best and become King of the Nerds!
All my life I’ve felt like I operate outside of the “normal” of the rest of the world. In a family of 13 siblings, I was a loner. That upbringing is probably the genesis of my ability and desire to sit back and observe what goes on around me, all while seeing the absurdity and humor no matter how bleak.
After a three year stint in the Army and four years in college, I went to work at a major public accounting firm. None of that would lead you to believe I would be operating outside the norm. You don’t do or say anything in the Army unless you want to clean latrines for a living. My college life consisted of being married and driving from Fairfield to Oxford and back again, followed by studying most of the rest of the day. I was a “serious” student! When you think “accountant,” you don’t think “funny accountant.” That’s an oxymoron if I ever saw one! However, I met quite a few “not-normal” accountants over the next few years. I still tried to fit in as best I could.
I didn’t always speak up. When I was young, I was hesitant to say what I was thinking because I didn’t want people to see how weird I was. Today, I have no such qualms! I have absolutely no filter and I will say what I think as soon as I think it. One nickname I had while working as a loan officer was “The Silent Assassin.” When I asked why, the nickname giver said, “you don’t say much, but when you do you come out of nowhere and say some things that hit the bullseye!.”
Nothing I say is meant to hurt, unless I mean to hurt you (which is rare). Sarcasm mixed with a dry sense of humor are tools I’ve honed to a sharp edge. Writing this blog may help you begin to understand how I see the world. It won’t always be abnormal, but I’ll try.