Pass the Dunce Cap

When I was a kid, someone got the notion in their head that I was smart.  I don't know where this came from.  My coloring skills were miserable.  I showed no leadership ability at all, nor any interest in leading much of anything except a lunch line.  My grades were alright, but not top of the class.  I liked reading comic books so maybe they figured me nerding out early was some sort of sign as to a superior intellect lurking within me.

In fourth grade I was placed in the elementary school's "Gifted and Talented" program, or GAT, due to what must have been a clerical error.  This entailed me and a few other fourth graders being sent to the library once a week to engage in activies to feed our young gifted and talented minds.  One the first day we were asked what we wanted to be when we grow up.  Of course the answers of scientist, and doctor, and astronaut and such were written down.  I do indeed remember what I wrote down.  

"I want to be a Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestler."

Of course my parents were mortified, but as Lewis Grizzard wrote, "Wrestling is like eating collard greens.  When you're hooked, you're hooked."  My hero was Jimmy "The Boogie Woogie Man" Valiant.  I was on the edge on my seat when he was feuding with "Exotic" Adrian Street.  Unfotunately, I never filled out and suck at wrestling.  Another young dream dashed.

So I sat in GAT class with my dreams of the squared circle, and I don't remember anything about the class aside from being shown those pictures that are really two images depending on how you look at it.  There's that picture which is an old woman, but also a young woman looking away.  Never did see the old woman.  Drove me nuts for a long time.

Fourth grade gave way to fifth grade, and it was on to middle school.  The GAT program continued by this time it was once a week being loaded onto a bus and taken to a whole other school.  It was a bit more memorable in that we had a computer class.  We knew computers were the way of the future, but I really didn't care.  The teacher did his best to teach us a bit about computers, and I sat as patiently as I could waiting for the end of class when he'd let the class play a few games on the old comps.

This only last a few months as midway through my fifth grade year my family moved to the Philippines.  They did not have a GAT program at the Oliver Hazard Perry Elementary school.  They had a TAG program.  Same old soup, just re-heated.  I also somehow formed an intellectual rival, Gladney Asada.  Gladney was smarter than me.  Looking back, my desk was smarter than me.  There we were in the TAG program, which met one afternoon every other week.  I hated it.  The only thing I remember from that was the question getting posed "That would be a more sensible color for a road to be other than black?"  That's what we were supposed to ponder with of talented and gifted minds?  

This began the my first practices in skipping class.  We all went home at lunchtime, and I'd fake sick and stay home to watch cartoons featuring giant robots doing giant robot type things.  My grades started taking.  I didn't care about the classes.  Didn't care much for my teachers aside from Coach Donovan who was great guy.  This got me out of any giftend and/talented programs for the time being.  I never got anything out of them.  But then, I was a lousy student.

Upon returning from the Philippines I started to get myset back in order.  My folks said that my transcripts got lost in the move.  Yeah, right.  The TV did, but those transcripts with all my lousy grades got buried somewhere.  I started fresh, and worked a bit at school.  My grades were good, but not great.  Some people still labored unted the notion that I was smart, which was crap, but I didn't dispute it.  Things were moving along smoothly enough.  I managed to make the honor roll on a regular basis.  If you made honor roll, you got the skip out on a class for a pizza party.  I usually skipped those.  Went one time my senior year.  Quickly realized why I skipped all the previous ones.  There was nothing there for me.

Junior year I was offered to join the National Honor Society.  What was weird about that was if you did not want to be a part of it you had to sign a form and turn it in to the school's NHS director who was my old biology teacher.  There were meetings to go to and some sort of club fees.  I had no car and wanted no part of it.  My folks both worked and would have had to take off to pick me up from school after the meetings.  They'd have done it, but I didn't want to ask them to do it.  So I signed the form opting out and placed it on Mr. Regan's desk at lunchtime, when he was out of the room.  That part wasn't intentional, but I was just dropping off a form.  Later that day in Chemistry class, Mr. Regan slipped into the room, spotted me, and quietly moved to where I sat in the back of the room.  He held the paper in front of me wanting to know why on earth I would opt out.  He did this as discretely as possible, which I respected.  I told him the truth.

"I can't get a ride, and don't really want to."

Academic achievements are important.  Working hard in school is important.  Grades are important.  But to me, I just wanted to get by.  Not the best attitude.  If I had a better one then maybe I wouldn't be a laborer for a living.  Ah well.

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