I had decided my mom was a total moron and finally considered the possibility that boys might not be morons. I was 14 years old and generally not impressed by anything. I struggled to fit in so I started blatantly not fitting in, by fitting in with the ‘skaters and stoners.’ It was an awkward stage, as was every other year of my youth. My style continually evolved yet somehow something polyester always remained a staple in my ever-changing wardrobe. Thrift store shopping and smoking cigarettes were my two hobbies, I’m not sure which one came first.
I remember sitting at this workshop for ‘developing kids’ or as I would describe at the time, ‘some crap that my mom forced me into.’ I gave minimal responses to questions and sat in the 2nd to back row (the back row was already filled). For most of the day I shifted around in my chair and honed my eye rolling craft. On break I snuck out with two new friends to smoke cigarettes. Upon return when asked about who was smoking, we lied and said we didn’t know. Nothing can bond young rebels more than a common distaste for a situation and cigarettes. Between sneaking puffs we laughed about how stupid it all was. We were comrades in battle ‘against the man’ or in this case woman leading the workshop whose collar was far too tight.
She was about 40. There wasn’t one hair out of place on her head and she dressed like a 60-year-old librarian. I almost started choking for her after one look at all those buttons on that stiff scratchy shirt. She never had a chance at reaching a kid like me. Her husband was with her, he was tall, handsome, flashed a lot of smiles and was well dressed. The pairing didn’t make any sense until he started a monologue with, “I just think positive in everything that happens to me.” I thought, ‘Oh now I get it, he’s a moron too and the crap streaming out of his mouth is going to knock me off my chair.’ His speech ended with, “And I don’t get affected by things that happen because I always just find the positive.” My hand shot up in the air although I had already started talking. “So, if your wife died, you’d just think positive and be fine?” He paused briefly, and replied, “Well yes…” I don’t know what he continued to say because I stopped listening. How could someone could just smile their way through a death and ‘be fine’? I pictured him sitting on a church pew, a stupid smile on his face like a bobble head, while a preacher droned on about his dead wife and her stuffy clothes. I had already decided the whole thing was shit, I wasn’t going to learn shit and I didn’t give a shit either.
I’m not sure why this memory popped into my head so vividly. There’s so many lessons here like how attitude affects outcome, or assumptions cloud possibility.
But these thoughts keep circling in my head:
- I was such a brat, my poor mother.
- I’m so glad that age 14 is already over ½ a life ago.
- Sometimes I’m the one who ‘doesn’t get it.’
- Lessons can come in surprising packaging.
- There’s still so much to learn.
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