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I’m a Lover, Not a Fighter

Strange Confessions: I have never been in a fight, be it wrestling, pushing or fisticuffs with another human of the male persuasion that was not my brother or a best friend and I messing around. That is not to say I haven’t had the opportunity to take someone to the mattresses, I just chose some reason to get out of a mess myself or another has tried to get me into. Why fight, when you can love? Well, my experience in that area was sadly lacking as well. I mean, the Foreigner song, “I Want To Know What Love Is” made me weep in my little fourteen year face as I lay awake at night despairing of my lack of deeply emotional connections with the opposite sex. Teenagery really leaves a mark on you, in ways of thinking that everything else seemed so important. I look at the area of my life as a way to connect with these young rowdys nowadays: Connecting with the remembrances of the past helps us to bond with the future.

Anyways… back to the wars that could have been: The first time someone gave me the go ahead and try it nod, was when my best friend and I were wandering the tough streets of suburban Murray, Utah. Some young and most likely orphan toughs got in our path, challenging us with looks and upturned chin thrusts. I was giddy inside with nervous tension. We had run into these feral mongrels previously, but never equally teamed. Their threats were met swiftly and surely with a head-lock from my taller and more sure of himself best buddy, Greg. They ran off, pants sagging, ears severely boxed, crying for their mommies, who they had forgotten they lost in their moment of humiliation. Greg was the coolest. We were bestest for what seemed a time that would never end. I’m currently friends with Greg on that one site, but he never does anything on it. He has gone on to be one awesome adult: featured in Forbes and Business Weekly, making a mountain of moolah being the Vice President or Chief Financial Officer of one up-and-coming company or another, working his way up the ladder of incredible responsibility that I so sorely missed because I acted slowly. I decided to hide behind this future financial guru when the ruffians attacked, which was probably my loss. Oh well, no regrets. I have my wife, my daughters, and a forever future no one can take away.

Second time I was challenged was when I was a Freshman at Judge Memorial Catholic High School. Ah yes, I see your confusion. There would never be a challenge that would result in a fight at a Catholic High School. But, I am here to set you straight. Conflict and yes, sometimes fights would happen in Catholic schools almost as much as in those, gasp, public schools. Nuns and priests were scary, but they were not omnipresent. They couldn’t slap your hands with rulers and/or pointers when you were getting out of line all the time, and I was challenged with nary a religious authority figure in sight on this ominous day. It was a dude named Tom. Tom was someone I went to St. Vincent’s with and he was okay back in those times although he did have a pasty white complexion, light grey eyes, the lightest, thinnest blonde hair you ever did see on a boy, which had the craziest cow-lick in the class. Now, Tom may have been made fun of a bit in St. Vincent’s but I never did commence the teasing, but I may have stood in the background thinking it was a bit funny, grinning my stupid little grin, being happy it wasn’t me. Tom may have been a bit of a rival for my best friends regards, so I stood with those who took the opportunity to harass him. As a young lad, I never defended the tormented for I was a scrawny one, but my participation in said tormentation of Tom brings me a shame that I wish I could go back and fix. As high school began, I had to show myself as one who could fit in, and humor was my option of choice to promote the coolness that I knew was inside me. On the back steps outside of the Freshman hall I saw Tom as an available point of mockery. Easy, yes, but what a little snit I was. Not recalling my words, which really were hesitant because of the unsurety of myself since hiding behind future financial man, I just tried to show myself as someone clever. Tom challenged me: several times, to a battle of hands and face. I laughed and joked it off. Cowardly little weasel I was, and not even giving it up for love. Good thing I failed out of Judge, just to avoid any further humiliation at the hands of myself. But, as you know I give myself plenty of chances for self-humiliation.

Hiding. Laughing it off. Those were the tools of my avoidance. I used them well.

As I entered into the world of my pre-adultness that was retail, new challenges awaited me. Around this time I had several people tell me that they hated me when they first met me, but then they got to know me, and then they finally saw the real me, and liked it. I believe that may be the case now, only that is something you don’t tell people when you are a real adult. You either avoid or you force yourself to pretend you like. They pretend to like you so long that they forget that they should be trying to know you, and relationships get stagnant. In the retail world I may have run into one of my most famous potential enemies. He was from Brazil. He didn’t speak English goodly. He worked in my same department. We didn’t talk, but the time we did he was very aggressive, angry even. I didn’t understand him, but could read human nature well enough to see I didn’t agree with his vision of what I was supposed to be. Eventually I got out of him that he didn’t like me and wanted to beat me up. I couldn’t understand why and tried to get it out of him. He wouldn’t work it out. He told me there was no chance for us to resolve whatever it was that made me rub him wrong. I said I wasn’t going to fight him. He gave me an angry look and stalked off. I was genuinely frightened. What was wrong with me? How did I spark such anger in our foreign friend? Most of all, how was I going to get out of someone messing up my dapper aspect? I don’t know how I got out of this, but this fine Brazilian gentleman disappeared like mist. Was it all a dream? My face was safe once again.

There was this show my wife watched that I hated: Judging Amy. I would be sitting with her while she viewed the stories. I caught on that the relationships the people in this program were so utterly complicated it hurt to listen. I complained to her about that it wasn’t real. People wouldn’t hold on to something that was almost always so impossible to work through. I understand that these complications were a week to week sort of deal, and it may have kept the viewers hooked. It was tiring slogging through these weekly gorgefests of saturated difficulties among humans. I think I may have wanted to watch an hour of dogs barking at each other than watch this regularly. Thankfully my wife and my relationship is easy… well, not easy, just not full of drama, like the show. One show I do remember, was this one dude’s wife was going to pottery classes, where sexy French-man was the instructor, and he was making the moves on wife. Arguments ensued between husband and wife regarding his banality and lack of passion when it came to fighting for their relationship. Wife soon agreed to sexy French-man’s offer of private pottery perusing to perfection. Husband discovers said encounters and storms Frenchy’s apartment door, pounding furiously, determinedly and surely. Husband’s clenched fist greets sexy French face as door runs agape. Wife’s eyes glitter amorously at husband’s new found ferocity for feeling the force of his love for wife. Ah! Relationship difficulty cured by angry husband’s closed fist. Husband and wife: a thing worth fighting for.

For a while I wondered if my wife wondered about my lack of forcefulness when it came to fist meeting face. But, I hope she knows that I would give it my all in defending what we have; even if it came to me wrestling aggressor to the ground and sitting on threat until “Uncle” was cried.

~Stranger

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Strange Confessions: Shoes to Impress!

Strange Confessions: In High School I desperately wanted a pair of slip on checkerboard Vans shoes. But we could only afford the cheap knock-offs, and the one day I wore them to class, these “cool” rocker dudes caught the fakes and laughed at me. I never wore them to school again.

I went to private school all my life and never really had the chance to wear anything of my choice. That is, until I failed out of Judge Memorial and ended up going to Brighton. So, in 1984 I was able to show off my own personal style. I was a rocker, but didn’t go for the concert t-shirts and ripped jeans look.  I didn’t grow long hair, because it always just grew straight out. But, what I did have, was the standard issue stoner Mexican Baja jacket, and I did play Hacky Sack at the end of the hall during lunch and classes I was skipping.

I wasn’t much of a trend setter nor did I follow trends too strictly, but I knew what I was and where I fit in on the social scale. I wore what was comfortable and did things I found enjoyable. The one thing that I did want, that most rockers had at the time, were a pair of black and white, checkerboard, slip on, Vans sneakers. This was right before the resurgence of skate-boarder cultural phenomenon known as “The Straight Edge” movement. Oh, you say you don’t know what The Straight Edge movement was? Well, let me tell you. The Straight Edge movement was an identity that listened to the re-emerging SKA music, didn’t do drugs or alcohol, had a skate board hanging from their hand, and wore Vans slip ons. “Why is this important?” you may ask. Well, this site is not only designed to expose myself and my many foibles, share the gospel of Christ, help me be a better writer/communicator, but, as well as to educate people on a culture that may slowly be forgotten. These are just side notes, things that make you say, “Hey! I remember that. I’ll write this doofus and share my memories of that era.”

Anyway, I begged my Mom for a pair of these. I suppose I used all sorts of tactics that said I’d die without them, or everyone else is wearing them. Like I said, I didn’t generally go for the trends, but somehow, this was different. These were cool! Well, she got me a pair, but they weren’t Vans. They didn’t have that little skateboard at the back that said, “Off the Wall.” The label on the back probably said something like “Keds” or “PayLess” or “Loser”. Whatever it said, it was wrong. And I didn’t know this until later, I just liked the look of the shoe. Somebody had to have educated me on the proper way Vans looked, because I still remember my “walk of shame.”

I was sitting in the back row of class and I had to go up to the front for some reason. I had to walk between these two rocker dudes that I held to some high esteem. I forget more of how a teenagers mind works every day. Why did these dudes opinion of my shoes matter a bit to me? I don’t know, it just did. I walked forward and knew these guys had caught sight of my kicks earlier, for they were leaning into the aisle, waiting for me to pass, so they could verify whether these were authentic or not. I felt like spinning around as they passed and walking backward the rest of the way. As I passed, I could feel the evaluation going on behind my back. Then I heard the snickers and guffaws shooting out whisperingly like silenced gunshots, aiming at my weakened ego; killing me with humiliation.

That was the last day I wore them to school.

Today at church, the pastor asked us if we ever really so wanted to impress someone who we went to ridiculous lengths to do so, and this story came to mind. We were in Romans 16 and the sermon was about what do we want our pastor to say about us to others. What would he say? And does all this focus on our Lord, Jesus Christ? I would like people to think well of me, but the most important person whose opinion matters, is that of Christ. Not that any of our works makes a bit of difference in our salvation, but that we look forward to that day, when we stand before Christ eagerly wanting to hear those words, “Well done.” Who are we looking to impress? Is everything that we do centered around Christ? This has sparked in my mind my attitude at work. Everyday I walk in, thinking it’s all about me. This needs to change to “It’s all about Christ.” Obviously, I know this and have known this for quite some time, it’s just that we need reminding, over and over again. And remembering stories about how we tried to impress people, only to look the fool, reminds me that God will never consider us the fool, laugh at us, or mock us for our failings. His yoke is easy and light. The burdens we place on ourselves for others and so much even for Christ will only make us grow weary. His strength will revive us, He will go forward with us in the work of His kingdom. I will praise Him forever.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

~Stranger

My Life, My Testimony: Part 2

Matthew 9:36 “But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.”

Being a sheep can be very wearisome. And, in the second half of my youth I had discovered new ways to stray as far as I could from my future, true shepherd. I had found many wolves to follow, to be a part of, to give my life over to. I had no purpose, no path lit up guiding me, showing me the way. My parents never forced me to finish anything. I failed at school, sports, music. Whatever was attempted was never important enough to see through. So those things never became important, never became purpose. Yet because of what I learned growing up Catholic, I knew there was a God. Perhaps He wasn’t impressed by the ceremony of Mass. Maybe, He wanted us to find out for ourselves the way we should go. I had heard many things about how drugs opened up parts of our mind we never even use. This was the way for me to go, to figure out a prime purpose. I had always believed myself to be destined for some amazing purpose. I had narrowed them down to two choices: to be abducted by aliens, or be in prison my whole life. Some picks, eh? But, drugs offered me so much more.

I started in with the cool kid in elementary school: smoking weed before baseball practice in 6th grade. Moving on to hanging out at the mall, carrying paraphernalia, getting busted. High school was well met with more divergent groups, leading me further astray from school, from family, from what was decent and right of my moral learning in the private schools I’d attended. They were all seeking some way to escape from lameness or to be badder or it was just who they were. I was seeking a purpose, seeking solutions, trying to expand my knowledge, in very many ways to escape from what I saw as a hopeless life leading to abduction, imprisonment, death, or worse: priesthood.

Failing out of Judge Memorial High was a conundrum of the highest proportions. I had failed where everyone else in my immediate and extended family had succeeded. The connection with this Catholicism was broken. My God was gone from me. He no longer had this hold on me that kept the slightest check on my behavior. Yet, where was He, why had He allowed myself to go this deep, this far away from Him? Maybe I needed it. My parents were definitely upset, but it didn’t seem as earth shattering as I thought it was supposed to be. It was some sort of release. I had more freedom. To go where no one else in my family had gone: public school. (I believe part of my parents attitude was relief: JMCH was expensive, and sending four children there was quite a drain on their meager finances.)

I began at Brighton High School meeting a friend from St. Vincent: Kenneth F. He was a slight outsider at St. Vincent; people thought he was dirty and shaggy. He was called the Bushman. I don’t know why he left, I liked him, but forgot about him when he was gone. He only went to school there to about the 6th grade. It’s strange how people disappear in our lives. I didn’t think about him for years, and now here he was, needing a friend as much as I did. The experiment in expanding understanding continued in new and unusual ways. This was soon a part of who I was, my identity. We’d get high before, during and after school. His mother had rented a room to someone who turned out to be a drug dealer. We’d break into his room and steal stuff. He’d have weed and mushrooms. Getting high and staying high was my main goal this year, this single year I had with Kenneth. It was marked with drinking, with wandering the neighborhood at night, with climbing the nearby mountains in the frozeness of night, but we didn’t care. We had no feeling. We were getting rid of feeling. No discussions, no learning, no building, or growing occurred this year. All memories fade from this time. It was all a frenzy of acquiring and consuming. Then Kenneth moved to Maine.

In this time I soon started perfecting the art of my depression. All depression is, is the art of self gratifying inwardness. At least it was for me. With Kenneth gone and not much drugs to be had, all I had, was myself. I had no God. He had deserted me. I went from full awareness of filling my time with a friend in need of me as much as I was of him, and the drugs and alcohol that kept us laughing, ignoring what I sought through the beginnings of drugs, to complete awareness of what a failure and how lost I truly was. My time in high school continued, with a friend here or there that provided me what I needed, never continuing the pursuit of meaning, of purpose. I got drugs or alcohol from them or my brother. My brother saw what was going on inside me, at least I think he might have gotten a glimpse, but he had his own life to lead.

Going to Utah State University, entering into the Forestry department, didn’t help matters much. When I was in high school, the mountains were my true escape. I would go up there with the intention of getting high, then feeling all paranoid and getting depressed, I’d go home and seek solace with food. It was the times that I went hiking, without any drugs, that I truly felt something fit, that I belonged there. I filed it away in the lock-box of my selfish brain, not really knowing what to do with it. What could I do with it? What purpose did it fulfill? Besides solitude, it gave me some exercise, some challenge. But, to fulfill what? It wasn’t until the college choices came up that I thought, I like hiking, I like the mountains. Maybe Forestry is what I ought to get into. Besides, USU was some distance from Salt Lake City, but not too far. So, I went. Deeper in to self I dived. I needed people, yet no one needed me. I was disillusioned by the Forestry department, I was depressed and isolated in the dorms. I went to the place where I could find people: the Fraternity my brother was a part of. It was a brotherhood, right? So, I did what I knew. I took drugs when I could find them, drank whenever it was offered and isolated myself in my room. Here all sense of purpose was gone. My main focus was finding something to eat, someplace to sleep, and get away from all the failure in my mind that I knew this was headed toward.

No part of this University experience was right. It was the wrong time, the wrong place, the wrong people, the wrong me. College was not a gateway to a brighter future for me. It was a confused place of darkness and mockery. Where people pretended like they cared, then they left you lost, alone, depressed, directionless.

From the 6th grade to a few years after losing my grant at Utah State University, I was so deeply involved in who I was, I had forgotten there was a world outside. Year after year grew more wearisome then the past one. My mind was scattered and I needed guidance. I needed purpose. I needed God in my life. And this is where Part 3 will take up. Hope comes home at last.

Luke 15:4-7 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lay sit on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.”

~Stranger

Strange Confessions: A Conclusion to a Realization Trilogy

Strange Confessions: I would probably never go to my High School reunion. But, I would definitely go to an elementary reunion, although I’d probably be the only one there.

The graduating class of 1983 from St. Vincent’s elementary school was the best group of friends one could ever have at that age. Perhaps it was my position or perception, but it seemed as though we were all friends. More than any other class that I could observe. There were no bullies, no outcasts, no snots. It was like being in one big family!

As I know and observe the world now, I know the last two sentences can’t be true. So, I believe that because I had cool older siblings and that I was fun, adventurous, and accepting that I had a lot more perspective on people than others might have. I could play baseball, football, foursquare, and I was an ace dodger at dodge-ball, so, I could relate to those who could play better than me; which was a majority. I could play D&D, hang out in a tree just to talk, climb through the prickery bushes, chalk up the black top, and hang out on the hills or bleachers, (whichever the case may be). I was involved in scandal, (see previous Strange Confessions), cheating (look forward to future Strange Confessions), skipping class, breaking machinery, going behind forbidden doors, and staying up late looking for trouble. I could eat anywhere I wanted during lunch, with the smart guys, jocks, girls, or outside with the semi-rejects. I was invited to all the parties, whether they be the cool kids or not, which of course I might have seen that everyone was invited, or just didn’t see who was really missing. Sure there was the occasional kid who didn’t particularly show a kind face to me, but I could hang with the kids they were with, so I was never extremely bothered by them. Most of the bullies who affected me were in other grades or older kids in my neighborhood. I got along with all.

In short, I was best friends with all these people. I miss them and would love to see them all again and talk and find out what they are doing and where they ended up and how they saw the past and how it affected them. Alas, the times I have gotten together with old friends have been less than pleasant or … fun.

In many ways I have not grown up. It’s a fact I hold with a rather nostalgic affinity. I really don’t ever want to let it go. I suppose that to really grow up means you changed beyond who you were and now seek more … oh I don’t know, adult(?). I want to examine this further, because there is some disconnect with friends I had and relation now. As I typed that last sentence I understand. It’s not that I still hold on to not being a grown up, it’s that people… really… change. Hmmmm… Well anyway, the not growing up part is being able to see a friend in anyone whether they may seek the same pursuits or not, have the same ideas or not, or are in the same “class” or not. We look at children and you can just walk up and be friends with another in mere moments. Mayhaps this is the key to understanding this. Even though I was not happy with my last Strange Confession, it has led me to this understanding. I should group these last three into the “Discovery” Strange Confession. Oh how I enjoy the “ah-hah” moments.

Back to the story. As I’ve shared before I had a facebook breakdown several months ago, where I got rid of a lot of people in order to renew my understanding. In doing this I came back with a new attitude and had the idea that I would accept anybody’s request, as long as there was mutual, and seek out old friends. I have, rather trepidatiously, asked friends from elementary and high school to be “friends” on that one site. I haven’t really had any kind of contact with them since we contacted again. To me that is very strange, isn’t it? I mean, you knew me back then and were connected again, okay, let’s leave it at that. In an effort to show my unification and a bit of humor (perhaps), I posted a video link of Neil Diamond’s “Hello” and said to all my new/old friends here’s to you. Only two people “liked” this and those were people I have been friends with since I’ve been on that one site. It’s fine. I really don’t care. Then there was this one girl who showed up in my suggested friends lists, who was connected to all the St. Vincent and Judge people, and she recently sent a request. I barely knew her, but I did remember her. She went to Judge, and she was friends with this girl who liked me. I know: weird, huh? It surprised me a lot too, and I really didn’t know what to do. She seemed to detect my lack of experience with a girl more than just a friend. It was short-lived after a dance. Anyway, I accepted this girl’s request and posted that I was surprised she remembered me and I was glad to connect. That is odd, is it not? All these people who I really knew, I can’t say a thing. Then one I didn’t really know, I post on her wall. She gracefully responded, “Of course I remember you.” It was nice to have a little back a forth. She told me about old friends and I was thankful to know. She said she would invite me to some Judge page. I told her that would be awkward, since I didn’t graduate from there. I hope that some day I can find the courage to really communicate with these old friends but I don’t see that day. We’ve changed. *gasp*

I’ve said before that this writing is something I am going to continue. I hope to try my hand soon at fiction again. But I am just comfortable doing this for now. I have many people who tell me they are reading but never say anything. That’s fine I suppose, but it would be nice to hear from more than just the standard four or five. Not that there is anything standard about them. Anytime I know someone has slogged through what I wrote, to reveal myself more, it is such a special connection for me. Thank you all. I hope your world has grown through reading. I recently asked people on that one site to send me their blogs, so that I could follow and read their musings. There was one response, and that was for other people’s blog. I know I’m not the only one who shares, it’s just difficult to find them, especially ones I really know. My blog has recently surpassed ten followers, and I’ve had one comment from someone I haven’t met face to face. I’d say that’s pretty cool.

Here’s to more writing, cheers!

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~Stranger

Strange Confessions: The Masters

Strange Confessions: During my freshman year of high school I would occasionally don a black felt, pointy topped mask, and acted like a weirdo in public.

At Judge Memorial Catholic High School, during my freshman year, I fell in with the wrong crowd. Or, wrong individual, is perhaps closer to the truth. This was a very transformational period for me. I gained much experience of who I was to turn out to be, from my standing back and observing this person, let’s call him Wayne, and how he treated his friends and me. I also, for the longest time, blamed Wayne for my lack of dedication, direction and hard work at Judge which led to my expulsion for poor grades. But ultimately, I knew I had no one to blame but myself, which took a long time for me to see. I still regret much of the consequences: seeing people I knew all through my childhood going on toward their purpose and being successful in their endeavors, united in their struggles, forming friendships that would last a lifetime, that should have been with me and for me. I still regret it but not in the same way, for that is another story.

I became friends with Wayne under delicate circumstances. Several of us were hanging out in the Boys’ room, I don’t remember who they specifically were or how I came to be there, but I was standing by the sink, messing with the soap dispenser. The nozzle on the dispenser was built up with layers of hardened pink goo. I pulled forward the release lever and several inches of the soap shot out from the only hole it could escape from under such extreme pressure. Do you know where the soap dispenser was aimed at? Right at the crotch of Wayne’s pants. Wayne stood there in amazement looking down and then looking up at me, with anger building in his face. I remember Wayne chasing me through the halls, but can’t for the life of me remember him catching me. I know he didn’t hit me or anything like that. I don’t even know how we came to be friends.

Isn’t it strange the things our minds eliminate from memory and sometimes the stuff we do remember is baffling to say the least. Either way a week or two later, we were wandering through the halls, Wayne blasting Rainbow through his boom box he brashly brought to school. We’d receive annoyed and disgusted looks from upperclassmen, but Wayne didn’t care. He… we were cool. Our group consisted of the big, but lovable; Tram, the scrawny and goofy; Mash, the pliable and eager to please; me, and the thick eye browed and grinny; Wayne. Joining this group was like becoming a Mormon: I was accepted immediately, once I professed any type of interest and loyalty, but the stuff that was revealed, in bits and pieces at a time, disturbed me enough to question what I’d gotten myself into, yet I was in too deep to back out, and there was nowhere else for me to go. In my immaturity, I began to believe that the loyalty to these friends was more important than school. I believed that I had found more than my past friendships I made a St. Vincents, and in my own stupid way shunned them for this new acceptance. Tram was a good guy, he had lots of other friends and didn’t make our group exclusive. Mash; oh I really think I could have been good friends with Mash. For he was smart enough to know that this group wasn’t as all fired up important as I thought it was, and he wasn’t around as much as I. Neither was Tram for that matter. Well, it eventually became just Wayne and I.

Soon going over to Wayne’s house after school everyday became the norm. I learned how to cheat the bus system with different types of transfers, or stolen ones off of an unmanned bus, where the driver had taken a break to a convenience store in Wayne’s neighborhood, just so I could get home at night. Wayne’s mom was divorced and seemed to be always at work. So going over to his house was a sort of freedom. But there was always something niggling at the back of my neck. An uncomfortable feeling that I was not doing my school work, that I was neglecting my family, that nothing else seemed that important anymore. Wayne wasn’t putting a lot of pressure on me, I’d just follow him.

Looking back, as in former Strange Confessions, I’m embarrassed by my conduct, by the way I just did things, without thought for anyone else around me. It’s times like this, spent with Wayne, that I most wish for a time machine. To go back and slap myself, and say in a british accent, “Get on ye yargle! What d’ya think you’re doing with this gormless nutter!? You are better’n this. Go on back to school before I knock yer block off.” Ha! I’d do it in a british accent just to confuse myself. Wouldn’t that be funny to go back and give yourself a message in a different accent. I’d imagine a lot of mental gymnastics would be goings on at night,… well perhaps it’d be a bit too much.

Wayne didn’t command or order things to be done the way he wanted, he just expected them. I see now that he wanted to be a leader, but didn’t have the charisma or the surroundings to accomplish this at a high level, except that he had me. He was a bad boy, and I did bad and stupid things when I was with him. Which leads to my Strange Confession. Wayne had knitted this mask that looked like a KKK mask, except it was black and it was slit from the bottom up to the nose, so you could see the mouth. He’d put it on on the bus and squeal, and look around sharply, and pound on windows. Basically, the mask gave you to power to be an idiot. He’d have me do stuff with the mask on sometimes, like jump inside a store, squeal, look all around like some wild animal, then jump out again. Or, run after a bus that had just left it’s stop and pound on the windows, jumping up and down, probably freaking out the bus driver. His favorite was to pound on the greenhouse windows of some fancy garden center, then just stand there with your face and hands pressed against the windows if you caught someone’s eye, like we usually did. Wayne called this thing “The Masters”. Why? I don’t know.

I felt stupid doing these things, but Wayne thought it hilarious, and he gained such enjoyment from freaking out people himself. I wanted to make people laugh not think I was some sort of freak. But there I was. Doing whatever Wayne wanted to do. I was wasting money, wasting time, wasting my future, wasting my reputation. Throwing it all away for a bit of approval. We’d go over to Tram’s home and that was enjoyable. We never did that The Masters garbage when we were at Tram’s house, and his sister was so cute too. Wayne would make fun of me that I wouldn’t get Tram’s sister, and he would always be after her. I was shy, had no ambition of my own, and just a sad sack. Being a freshman at Judge was not all I had expected. I wanted to be friends with my old friends again, but by then the year was over. I had not made the grade and was kicked out.

After that year I never sought the approval of my peers, at least that I didn’t consciously think about. I’d make my own paths, find friends who liked me for me. Many times it is hard to have this attitude, especially with my personality. But, I did find others. I did see Wayne again a couple of times after this, once when my new friend at Brighton and I stole my mom’s car when she was in Italy, (but that is another story) and the other when I was taking out the garbage at work at the Pizza Oven Connection. Boy, I felt like a real winner then. All three of them are on Facebook and I don’t think I want to “friend” Wayne, but I’d sure like to talk to Mash and Tram. Maybe I’ll get up the courage to private message them.

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