Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A Swing and A Miss: Failed Blogposts I Never Actually Wrote Concerning Embarrassing Stuff I'd Rather Forget

One would think that with the wealth of free time I currently have on my hands ---summer vacation from teaching, kids no longer living at home, a clearer mind thanks to a brief respite from stress-induced impulse drinking...and...a laptop at the ready---I'd have written a long novel's worth of carefully crafted posts all published with the appropriate title Magna Carta Holy Grail but Kanye West totally scooped me on that front. However, it must be said that Kanye's reasons for using such a lofty title probably have more to do with the enormity of his ego and mine is just a symbolic accounting for the many, m-a-n-y times a day I thought about writing, said I was going to, and then... did not.

Oh...the promises I made to myself all those times I avoided potential parent contacts by hiding under my desk I was too busy with work related nonsense and now I've let myself down again! I don't think I'm alone when I say that the creative juices really do flow best when you're drunk you're too busy to do anything worthwhile with the ideas they bring forth. And I had some ideas, though upon later examination they seemed mostly to follow an unsettling theme illustrating my majestic lack of common sense at various junctures of my life. Such as:

*The semester I was a "walk on" on the college track team because I was somewhat faster than many of my non-runner friends and because my experience with actual athletes was...how we say...non existent? I thought that I, with my whippet-thin body and "Elmo arms" that had lifted nothing heavier than a dictionary,  would have no problem in being equal to everyone who had been running competitively since the invention of movies with sound. The willingness to have faith in oneself is important, but it is clear that it must also be grounded in some kind of reality. Obviously, I had not learned this yet. Oh, the hubris of youth!

Which is why during the inter-squad meet I didn't know enough to wear shorts under my thin white sweats, which were to be removed before we got into the starting blocks. I had to run in the sweatpants, which looked awkward not only because I looked like a white balloon in motion, but also because my bright pink underwear could be seen through the pants--not by only by those running nearby, but also from any low flying aircraft overhead. Also? I was the last one on my squad to cross the finish line.

*There was the time that I--in a fit of young teenage angst--possibly over dramatized the familial dysfunction that was going on inside my childhood home and wrote a lengthy and detailed letter to the advice columnist at Seventeen Magazine. Cut to a few months later when I get an envelope addressed to me from the magazine and a letter inside advising me and the fellow maniacs in my family to seek professional help posthaste. This was problematic for several reasons: 1) My mother did not allow me to read the magazine because--choosing to believe as she did a literal interpretation of its audience--decided I had to actually BE seventeen in order to be a legal member of its target demographic. Therefore, she could never know that I had written them in the first place, which was difficult since I was not of an age where I got personally addressed mail at my home unless it was my birthday.  2) I couldn't remember exactly what I had said (Had I exaggerated or not??) in the letter that had touched off the clear concern this stranger had for me, and 3) I was confused and afraid that--just perhaps--my family was crazy and now someone outside our family unit knew and would tell everyone.

It is my personal belief that the origins of my perforated gastric ulcer from three years ago can be  traced to the moment immediately after I received that letter.

*There was also the time when, in a fit of good will for my fellow human, I was so moved by a lonely young man's Dear Abby letter that I decided to write him at the address he provided. Because he was lonely and sad. And (You've got mail!!) he wrote back!!!! From his cell at the state penitentiary!! Did I know he was in prison when I wrote to him?? Incredibly, the answer to this question is yes.  Because I had been so chatty about myself in my letters about what I did and where I lived, my new jailbird pen pal began talking about what I might do to help him reacclimate whenever he got out. You know...maybe my dad could get him a job or something!?  This unforseen turn of events would have necessitated having to tell my very strict father (Whom we sometimes referred to as Captain Von Trapp.) that I had helpfully provided an incarcerated man with information about our family. That I had thought writing to a prisoner AT ALL was a good idea would have seemed to them beyond the scope of understanding. Let alone that this idea, apart from all other worthwhile things in my life that I should have followed through on, was the one that took root inside my hormonal mind.

Tragically, there are plenty more stories like this and I suppose they could serve as an embarrassing reminder of how stupid I was and for how long I remained that way. Or I could decide to focus on the fact that I did eventually turn into a relatively normal person with a miraculously amazing family and a decent work ethic and not a walking cautionary tale. People grow up and they get smarter in the process. Most of them, anyway. But they, like me, have a secret list of horrific missteps to remind them of when this wasn't always the case. Even today, and just to be safe, I never wear white pants...with anything.


  1. I never wear white pants ever either.
    The Seventeen story deserves publication.
    And you deserve a summer of peace.

  2. I honestly don't know how any of us recovers from our teenage years. Especially thirteen and fourteen, which for me, at least, were horridly confusing and angsty and full of awkwardly dramatic missteps. I assuage myself by firmly believing they make us better teachers and mothers.

  3. I've always set such lofty goals for myself during summer vacations. Home projects. Writing (articles for publication, my novel, my screenplay, my television show pitch, my lesson plans for all of next year). Fitness boot camp/yoga make-over. Starting a garden. I've been on vacation for six weeks and the only good thing I can say about my free time is that I've never before been this good at pissing it away with nothing to show.

  4. The Seventeen story is great! I'm impressed that they sent you a personal response. I bet they got a lot of mail themselves.

  5. The white pants story was like one of those showing-up-at-school-naked dreams that I STILL have a couple of times a year. I love the pink panty detail. Don't feel bad about being last; acute embarrassment will definitely affect your time.
    Like all good stories, your Seventeen saga and your Dear Mr. Shawshank tale left me wanting more. Did your mom make you show her the letter from the magazine?? What happened after that?? And did Papillon ever contact you when he was released? What was his crime? Did you send him a photo?? Seriously, I need more details on both those stories. They should be your next blogs.

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  7. Actually, Nancy, my mother still does not know about the letter from Seventeen. Providence was with me on the day that letter came. It could have been during summer when we were outside playing when the mail arrived and so kids got there first. Or maybe at Christmas when we monitored the mailbox so closely for the arrival of any and all Chrisgmas cards. I kept that letter in the bottom of my junk drawer as I thought about a way to dispose of it. I finally burned it in the fireplace, if memory serves. Same place I permanently got rid of my teenage journals. All three loose-leaf paper folders of drama and teen confusion. As for Mr. Shawshank, I believe armed robbery was his game. After an exchange of four or five letters I was suddenly struck with the enormity of my stupidity. I think I wrote him and said we were moving. All of us. My entire family. And then stopped writing. I never heard from him after that.

  8. Sometimes when you think about the stupid stuff you did, you really start to worry about your kids--because if YOU did stuff that stupid, what are they up to ?!

  9. Awesome!

    Telling Mr. Shawshank that you were moving was really pretty brilliant. I'm with the rest of the gang ... we need more details on this story.

    As for Seventeen ... were you at all comforted by an adult reaching out to you to validate your situation? Or was it just more "And this is how my ulcer begins?"

    Really, we need more detail on all these stories. Painful to live through: sure. Excellent tales many years after the fact: you betcha.


Be nice. It's not as hard as it sounds.