Thursday, April 25, 2019

Grandpa's Solid Gold Hot Rod

Part 25 of 30 -- Guidance Counselor series

As my high school career was in its last few weeks, everything loosened up. Of course I was busy, with a big push to get papers and projects done and make sure I passed. They were strict on that point, leading to at least one all-nighter. I had to justify with documentary evidence in my Science paper that the earth not only has flat plains but mountains. But along with the fever pitch of all that, everything else loosened up. The guidance counselor, so often a burr under my saddle, even loosened up. Knowing his time with me had come and gone. He looked at things stoically, all things must pass. When I sat in his office, not going to wrestling, he still didn’t like it. But now it was nearly over so it wasn’t so bad.

For the students, the end of the school year is always a time to cut loose and even raise hell. And everyone expects it while not encouraging it. Take the guidance counselor. He was mum on it, but who knows what he did in the Korean War when it was time for him to come home! He might’ve stripped naked and run back and forth across the 38th parallel. I know that’s what I would’ve been doing if I were there, if I’d ever been drafted. Mooning the Communists, our enemy at the time, Kim Il Sung and the slave state in his thrall.

OK, loosening up. Behavior a little beyond the norm. Even veering off into the completely irresponsible and wacky. I was lucky to get away with it, but now I can crow it from the roofs What’s the big deal now that I was the one in Grandpa’s solid gold hot rod spinning brodies in the damned school parking lot? As long as I didn’t get caught, it’s my business and no one else’s. Even then, it’s not like anyone was really going to get hurt, as long as they stayed out of the way. Spinning in gravel's a magical experience. With the beauty of gravel being it’s very hard to trace the tracks to anyone in particular. And back then there were NO video cameras. If you could do it and get the hell out of sight, it was their best guess against your best denial. And I didn't know anything about it...

The guidance counselor might try to weasel information out of people about their pranks, but that late in the game his days were numbered. I got used to his disappointed glares but you still couldn't be too complacent. I believe he had some kind of arrangement with the administration to weasel information out of kids in exchange for rewards, maybe dates with the wrestling coach’s leftovers or rejects. But the key thing to handle that is simply to stay quiet, let several decades go by, then once they’re all good and dead, dead and gone, spill the beans, totally irrelevant today. Were the high school to come after me for old infractions, at this point I’d cuss them out and assume they couldn't legally rescind my diploma.

So I'm not too worried. This time life's on my side. The old foes are now a'molderin' in their graves, with bigger fish to fry.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Piece of Cake Training School

No. 24 of 30 -- Guidance Counselor series

Here's a good mock-up (?) of a pretend (?) wrestling coach place, combining two of my themes, the education of guidance counselors and the reformation of wrestling coaches. I'm assuming it's pretend, but on closer examination this might be how they actually do it!

I'm going with my gut, I think it’s in good fun. So coaches, please don’t wrestle me to the mat and have your way with me. And if you do have your way with me, please let me see what you have first just in case I have a hard time later discerning your presence. Which might qualify you for advancement to guidance counseling, although don't read that as a guarantee.

The theme, you have to admit, is curious, however pathetic it also is. That the guidelines for wrestling coaches and guidance counselors are so lax at that particular institution! And I need to be careful. If there really is a place called “Piece of Cake School of Guidance Counseling,” let's call this another place, a fictional place, whose low standards matches my other posts on these actual occupations. That’s always danger egging these guys on, you don’t want to get in trouble.

Knowing what I know, though, it's still hard to picture their standards so lax that a guy on the beach could brag about his misbehavior and failure to be in school and that he'll be advanced anyway toward a degree and career. I’ve had a few lenient professors in my career, but none of them was quite that lenient. And not so much because they didn’t want to be cool, but because the price of it would be their reputation and profession. So everyone was respectable.

Even my guidance counselor was genuinely educated, I’m assuming. I actually never saw his degrees or transcripts, but I have a hard time believing no one else did. Now that he’s gone, passed on, it’s probably a moot point. But for all the faults I found with him, having the required degrees wasn’t among them.

"Reforming Wrestling Coaches Since 1965." That’s a pretty good record, depending on when the ad was made. If it was 1966, then they were just at it. If it was last week, that’s a long time not just to endure wrestling coaches but to reform them! That much reformation, if it were really happening, would have revolutionized the industry by now! Because one thing none of us wants — except maybe them — are wrestling coaches running amok and unreformed.

And the Alert-o-Tron 5000, while it sounds like a great invention, is probably someone’s idea of a gag. The very idea that someone could strap on an Alert-o-Tron and manage to stay awake for 2 minutes and get a degree sounds like a stretch. Heck, I could stay awake for 2 minutes, depending on what time of day it is, without an Alert-o-Tron, and I wouldn’t be a good wrestling coach. I don’t know anything about the various techniques, except the very basics: If you're pinned and exhausted, give up and pound the mat yourself. And as far as the well-known perks of the trade, I don’t swing with such lenience. I’m particular as to partners and follow some pretty stringent guidelines. Flowers, wine, a call the next day...

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Birth, Life, and Death

No. 23 of 30 -- Guidance Counselor series

As the school year winds down at Dump Overlook High there's a big assembly, with the guidance counselor offering his thoughts on the year just passed and his vision for the future. The natural assumption is that he has lots of wisdom and will draw something good from it for our inspiration.

The year I graduated it was a big production, with me even having a part in crafting the grand backdrop. I’m proud to say the backdrop hadn't always been so lavish. Some years it was no more than a few pathetic sheets of paper tacked to the front of the podium with illustrations like the sun, moon, and stars, a sky motif illustrating the passing of the years and our hopes and dreams.

My year was a much bigger deal, with a huge backdrop on Birth, Life, and Death. The scheme was almost philosophical. Birth is over here on the viewer’s left, the beginning. Life is the indeterminate span after Birth, which unfortunately leads — varying from person to person, depending on his or her susceptibility to whatever's catching, everything from polio to gonorrhea and its associated itching — to a possibly brutal and painful Death. It's humbling to think of some of the ways you can die. I knew a guy literally decapitated! Never knew what hit him. Only knew, whatever it was, it was fast...

For the assembly I was privileged to work on the DEATH sign. They even put me in charge of it! A little sop from the guidance counselor, I later thought, to give me a deeper sense of my native aptitude, a lesson in sticking to a job, and encouragement that I could oversee something successfully. And I had very little help with it. I hate to ask people to help, but there were a few kids who were also at loose ends and we were cobbled together for the project. A few of them mixed the paint and the rest of us daubed it in, making, I’m sure you'll agree, a nice tableau.

I had a lot of pride looking at it as he spoke. I kept thinking, It could’ve been better. I saw a few streaks that should’ve been touched up. But there was a deadline and we didn’t have the time we needed to pour into it, with classes and tests and the fact that people have a social life, dates, dealing with hormones, etc.

Still, I thought proudly, it looked pretty good! Especially if you figure in the guys who did the BIRTH panel didn’t put in half the sweat, and as far as elbow grease they also had the short end of the stick. The LIFE team did a great job, but they had a lot more people. And anytime a panel is central to a presentation, of course that’s where the resources will go. Like being born on third base, it’s not a great feat if you’re first to score.

And think of this, everyone’s down on DEATH. We’re not supposed to think of Death like we think of Life. So instead of being on third base, it’s like being stillborn from the get-go, having to claw our way up from the slime, hunkering down and pushing forward despite the obstacles, and having to even justify our existence! It’s obvious if it weren’t for the whole scheme of BIRTH and LIFE they would’ve left DEATH out all together. Which isn't fair but it’s a fact. Meaning, actually, as far as everyone was concerned, we were on the project by forced necessity, not something to be proud of.

Still, you know, as far as these things go, the guidance counselor gave one heck of a talk. Backed by one of the best damned DEATH panels anyone’s ever come up with! Then when it was all over, it was all tossed out, I guess. The landfill guy probably looked at it and thought, Not bad at all.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Little Buddha Bull Frog

 Part 22 of 30 -- Guidance Counselor series

What’s this? Something about Buddha Bull Frog losing his equanimity, or alternately, his equanimitay. The spell check does accept that, but it rhymes in the full scheme of things, so TAY it is!

Yes, afraid so... That’s where the mind drifts today. I’m doing multiple no-nos therapeutically speaking, although of course it depends on who you ask on the nature of your therapy. I see the wisdom in various traditions, the spill-it-out school, wallowing in your trauma, getting it off your chest, spilling the beans. And I see the wisdom in putting it behind you, accepting a more nurturing path and outlook, not making hay out of your misery, looking on the bright side, etc. 'Torn between two lovers, feeling like a fool...' And the wisdom of just being.

And I'd say all that's well and good. I can swing multiple ways when it comes to trauma. And see multiple viewpoints. One, I am more than my trauma. My identity is not my trauma. Have you noticed all the years I’ve been here without mentioning the guidance counselor? I may have mentioned him in passing; I can’t remember, I’ll look it up later if I think of it. I have mentioned him in passing with people in real life, but have always found that no one really cares. That’s not a complaint, just a fact of life.

Do I care about the traumas of others? I actually do, but I don’t want to talk about them forever either. If we got together, though, and you had a particular trauma, I would be reflective on it, non-judgmental toward you, and encouraging about your future. Once it was out, though, and you were on your way, I’d be on my way too, with equanimity. That was a person I was able to respect and listen to, now for a hot fudge sundae!

Actually my trauma here is getting sickening even for me, since it’s all long past, and compared with other people’s traumas, seems almost illegitimate. No one touched me, no one cornered me. I had a guidance counselor whose attitude was somewhat askew from what I thought it should have been. At the time I didn’t tell anyone, because who knows, maybe that’s normal for a guidance counselor from a kid’s perspective.

So now, seeing the past by hindsight, am I Buddha Bull Frog? Normally, somewhat, yes I am. But in laying the facts out here, wondering why I am what I am, wondering how things worked out as they did, I have to think there are positives and negatives in the influences I had along the way. Like nice, kind aunts and an evil guidance counselor. Just leave out wrestling coaches, since I mercifully avoided that fate, thanks to my seizures and mother. But I saw the wrestling coach several times and the idea that I could've gone for him: “No, thanks!”

Buddha Bull frog or not, I definitely caught a few breaks along the way, which at the time might’ve seemed like the wrong path. Getting out of wrestling was great, going to the guidance counselor seemed bad, but having equanimity has to be in spite of the good and in spite of the bad. Life just happens. Take the good with the bad. Unless the bad is definitely actionable, then take the bastards for all you can get!

Buddha Bullfrog is unborn and marvelously illuminating, over and out.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Grandma vs. Guidance Counselor

 No. 21 of 30 -- Guidance Counselor series

I’m looking at the picture one last time before launching into this and it makes me smile. This might be the best, most decisive evisceration ever of a guidance counselor. But if you have a better graphic evisceration, I’d be happy to set it side by side mentally and judge.

As graphic eviscerations go, it’s hard to say it’s better than he deserves, since in this one case the guidance counselor deserves only the best. It’d be a humbling thing to see the look on his face as he looked at it. I'd get a tingle in my legs. And I’m nice enough, remember, to have sympathy for him, so I'd probably not even show him. But if he had an ounce of humanity at this point, I hope he'd be a little humbled. Of course then he'd get a grip and shake off the humanity and swear it never happened! Or swear it would never happen again because he's now dead...

We ought to have an Evisceration-Off. All you need is the world’s bitterest grudge and a willingness to admit it, then put it in the most drastic terms you can think of. Notice how my guidance counselor never comes in for shades of gray. The ounce of humanity I gave him was a stretch. Because you can’t eviscerate in slow motion or by half measures. It’s not compassionate to the recipient of your grudge. Like skinning a rabbit, it has to be fast. And lest I look bad with that statement, remember, I didn’t start this fire. He was the one in charge, not me.

Anyway, we have here a truly compassionate person, Grandma, telling me that she was just reading an article about women’s boots, something perfectly wonderful, then assuring me that I can do whatever I set my mind to. Isn’t that just like her? The important news about what she was reading became a touching defense of her grandson’s ability to set his mind on things!

Then on the other hand, what have we here but His Unholy Eminence, the world’s most concrete evidence of the existence of a literal devil, the guidance counselor, doing his level worst to cut me down. I need to read his poisonous words again, which I’ve put in his mouth, to get the full impact of his evil: “Whatever it is, you’ve shown you can’t possibly accomplish it.” That's harsh! And might be even too drastic for him, but in putting it that way I’m consolidating numerous slights, interpreting rolled eyes, etc., so naturally it needs to be essentially the opposite of what saintly Grandma said.  She read an article about boots and encouraged me in the same breath. But he does the exact opposite.

Now look at me in the middle, torn between pure goodness and abject evil, not countermanding the guidance counselor or even thanking Grandma for her fashion sense and sense of my righteousness, but speaking from my own intellect on a book designed for children but still impressive enough to be called a psychological tome -- sort of like Dr. Seuss -- of a cat and mouse sharing the same name. Which could be applied to me and the guidance counselor. We’re either two individuals or the same mega-person in an inner titanic struggle — good vs. evil. Two souls in one body, like something from Star Trek, with the Enterprise in mortal danger for about 49 minutes.

I seriously like this graphic more than all the others! One, it gives me a remembrance of Grandma. Two, it takes my breath away to hear the guidance counselor’s verbal poison, and it makes me feel good about myself in the center, an overlooked scholar enchanted about a cat and mouse, while no doubt raising in my own core lessons about guidance counselors and how they go bad.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Ginger Finally Graduated

No. 20 of 30 -- Guidance Counselor series

In my opinion, the school treated this young lady miserably, and I'll be more specific, guidance counselors and wrestling coaches over the years. The details of the case are so hideous they cannot be lightly aired here. But they must see the light of day. So I'll preface this rather juicy and immensely interesting story in a serious way. Do I wish it'd never happened? Yes. Can I wish it away? I've tried to no avail. At least I personally had nothing to do with it, so I'm off the hook. But of course I'm still fascinated that things could go so awry at an institution as well respected as Dump Overlook High School.

I hesitate to share the details because even this blog has standards. Foremost among my standards are two competing interests: 1) The life of the innocent must never be disparaged; 2) The guilty must never be cleared. OK, in Ginger’s case, I don't disparage her in any way. I supported her graduation as much as anyone after 10 years of high school. And as for the guilty, I oppose them to this day, forever refusing to exonerate them and their filthy ways.

Indeed, the sad truth is Ginger was kept in high school for nearly a decade. And why someone didn’t raise holy hell before now — not “now” but now contemporary then, 40+ years ago — is anyone’s guess. And since I’m anyone, fornication was at the heart of it. Just old fashioned you know what.

So it’s too terrible to even write about. I'm flinching at the keyboard. But the facts came out and still need to be rehashed, over and over, so these things never occur again. She was purposely lost in the system as various guidance counselors and wrestling coaches made a play for her. I know it’s not funny. I’m well aware of what we’re dealing with here -- liquid dynamite -- and those guidance counselors and wrestling coaches must be excoriated without mercy. Which they were but now they’ve all passed on. Which doesn’t excuse them.

This is so difficult for me. Because I know there’s someone who’s never heard the story and is just waiting for me to say something untoward so they can nail my hide to the shit-house door. Please don't. I'm not the enemy. These unnamed perps, who are all dead, were to blame. In no way was it Ginger’s fault, and I believe she’s also passed. Free of this terrible injustice, which lives in infamy.

One guidance counselor considered her file and lack of interest, and no matter how much pleading was made, how much sending of flowers -- and he tried various bait and switch schemes -- she was unyielding. He tried candy for a month, which was controversial at the time; it isn't that good for you.

As he considered the investment, which was mounting, naturally he was more and more loath to throw in the towel. But at a certain point giving up is the better part of valor. The other determinate fact that should've never been overlooked is she plainly wasn’t interested. And eight years of high school is enough for anyone.

So finally the guidance counselor decided the course for her future. After a cursory sham review of her "failing grades" they were switched to D, giving her enough credits to graduate five times. And to soothe any potential ruffled feathers with her or her confused parents (not right in the head), she graduated with distinction, the only student to ever get five diplomas. And their best wishes.

Why, O why, did they persist in such a scheme! he questioned himself.  Guidance counselors are optimistic by nature, but at some point you have to worry about your reputation. And collateral damage. Another decade and people would've been talking. So he needed her to cross the stage sometime short of needing a walker to get it accomplished. Pass her on, let guidance counselors in college have their chance.

G [initials were used in the reports] was a good sport about it, thankfully. She came into high school a sprightly flower, a delicate posy, so cute, so pert. And being voted most likely to succeed seven years in a row kept her spirits high. Which never sagged in all those years... But such an injustice!

Friday, April 19, 2019

Guidance Counselor In Barber College

No. 19 of 30 -- Guidance Counselor series

Well, well, Hair Doktor, prepare your scalp for the royal trim. Would you like that clipped free-form or do you prefer a bowl? Think it over. A bowl could be better, seeing I’m just a kid with very little grasp on abilities. Certainly the future’s nothing set in stone at this point.

And you are the guidance counselor, are you not? And you took it upon yourself to criticize so rashly my choices in life, even at this tender age, as not being guided by the deeper channels of wisdom, planning, regard for particular classes, and even participation in wrestling against the wishes of my mother and presumably my doctor.

No, no, no! You set yourself up the arbiter of students’ futures, actual living human beings with hopes and dreams of their own, not looking (at least in their sometimes immature dreams) to do anything definite, which you then warned would be grunt labor or another cog in the machine. It's great that you were so bold and that your wisdom ran so deep, when being guidance counselor wasn’t even your first choice.

Of course you got out of the military. I don’t know if you were drafted, but it seems entirely possible that once in you might’ve considered staying and taking the path a lot of guys dream of, retiring in 20 years. That sounds cushy, retire under 40 and sit around with a fishing pole and keg of beer.

But you looked around at your fellow servicemen and something about them made you say no. Always thinking: What is something on these guys that grows apace everyday and doesn’t involve sex? Hmm. Of course it’s hair, that fine substance that sprouts from heads, short and bristly at first, then limber and beautifully pliable with length. Sure, there’s dandruff to deal with, but that’s just dry scalp, could happen to anyone. Rub a little tonic on the average head and it's good as new. And the head is a miracle field needing a constant harvest, no planting needed. A haircut every month for its natural span of life! Or until it goes bald...

So why not be a barber? There doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with it. You can use your stories of near misses with Korean guerrillas to hold off the quick criticisms of guys whose hair was clipped too short or left too long. There must be a war injury you can toss in. They’re trying to tell you the cut's too short but the blasts are still ringing in your ears and you missed their exact wishes.

I’m not sure what the rest of your thought process was, but I have my guesses. You kicked it around in your mind, a barber career, but decided to do something else, going through college on the public dime and thought you’d be a wrestling coach. For the ladies. Then since there was already a wrestling coach, how about guidance counselor! No one else wants it.

My beef isn't what your career was, but the fact that it took shifting decisions and varying paths to get there. Which looks to me the very definition of not knowing what you wanted to be before you got there. Which then looks like the indecisiveness you criticized me for when I didn’t know precisely what my future would be under your “guidance” and “counseling.” “Guidance,” is that another word for dirty looks? “Counseling,” is that another word for hopelessness?

I just want to sit here a minute and think it over. 1) You in the service; 2) Then dabbling in the barber biz; 3) Then the wrestling job; 4) Then out of desperation, guidance counselor. Guess I have it right.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Guidance Counselor Recitations

No. 18 of 30 -- Guidance Counselor series

We don’t recite enough these days. I must’ve been born in the wrong century. I think it would’ve been cool to be one of those guys in the past who goes town to town reciting things. Before TV, before radio, when it was your memory and a confident ability to warble out inspiration. It’s hard to picture us these days, or even in the last 50-60 years, being patient with recitations. But people used to love it.

And it’s stuff that I don’t even know. I actually do know a bunch of Bible passages more or less because that’s one of my interests. But recitations once upon a time was so much more. Verses from Whittier, Shakespeare, and other literary talents, and no doubt a lot of  wash-ups from the past as well. The greats and plenty of hacks.

How’d they do it? Why’d they do it? Other forms of entertainment were totally primitive compared to now. I have a TV set up where I record movies to my cloud 24 hours a day, but I have time to watch maybe four or five a week. The others will eventually go away, I guess. Certainly cloud based music has made listening to music a lot easier. Still, I can see why people want to go out and invest in an expensive record collection, taking back personal control of it. And better sound. And the pride of having it.

The old recitations though, like from preachers, traveling evangelists, or just local guys with booming voices, would've been nice too. Just because I personally don't like a lot of affectation in voices, the rolling of Rs, archaic gestures and affectations, doesn't mean others didn't. And how fun it would’ve been to live in those times and go around mimicking it, making a little fun. Surely someone would’ve thought it was funny, but more likely they would’ve strung you up.

In terms of the Guidance Counselor, I’m saying he was a pompous ass. And it's easy to picture him spouting the wondrous words of deity, the psalmist, as though they’re meant to exercise his tongue and make people marvel at his eloquence. Later he'd be back in his trailer counting his coins, praising or cussing out the rubes and the county.

Opposing him, then, in the graphic, we have someone more from our way of doing things today. Someone who hasn’t imbibed the great words of oratory, but is still with-it enough to know that the best way to puncture oratory and pretentiousness is by quick vulgarity and a dismissive attitude. Stand on your head with your ass and/or crotch in someone’s face and belittle them for what they’re doing and you’ll see the power of language and gestures. And everyone's got it going on today in social media.

Our guidance counselor lesson for the day: I gave the guidance counselor power over me. I realize that now but I had no power at the time to counteract his poison tongue. I sat there and took it and tried to stay out of trouble. But he still beat me down with his nasty spirit, making him one of the bastards of the century.

In high school I was good at standing on my head, but I really didn’t know enough (or wasn't brave enough) to dress him down with vulgarities. It would’ve had bad consequences, so it's all better left in the fantasy world of today than in the actual world of those dark days.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Guidance Counselor Judgment Day

No. 17 of 30 -- Guidance Counselor series

Are you up for Judgment Day? Morality and mortality. It's handier to keep your morality right in front of your pointy little nose than not. So I do, a persistent state of consciousness coupling it with a feeling of imminent mortality. Goodness is its own reward. Birds and fish probably feel the same thing as they're driven by the sun or tides, inexorable and feels just right.

My usual consciousness, like the average guy, is life goes along as normal. With ups and downs, yes, but consciousness always hitting the target in the same ways and places. Making life predictable, and except for extremes — the ever present danger of serial killers and being wiped out on the freeway — it keeps its predictability. On the serial killer front, though, we can all be buoyed by the great work they’re doing with DNA. Wait several decades and they'll be nailed as toddlers, thanks to ever better science and robo guidance counselors.

Before then I will have faced my Judgment Day, and that'll be a piece of cake, really, thanks to certain Sunday School doctrines I’m pinning my hopes on. It'd be all the same, really, if none of it panned out and instead there’s fountains of living water, and beauties by the score according to your innate preferences, magical bliss for eternity. With no sign of guidance counselors.

Say Amen if you agree, no Paradise should ever be crawling with evil sin-inducing serpents or these other scurvy dudes. We could start a movement, our own religion. A lot of people don’t believe in the literal devil, and that’s understandable. Evil is a matter of choices and every coin has a flip side, etc., which I don’t want to get into. But other people have had at least a brief run in with a guidance counselor, so their theology on ultimate things runs deeper.

The key thing I remember about mine is the sense of stern judgment he held against me. For things that weren’t really my fault, having had a series of seizures and so getting a deferment from taking the semester of boy’s wrestling. It’d be great to go back and find the statistics, how many kids caught the same break. It couldn't have been many, because week after week it was just me alone with him. No one else. It would’ve been nice to have at least one other kid to dull the blow of his disappointment. Because he saw implications for my distant future that were dire, and a lot of it has come true. Every pain I get — and I got mad one day a few years ago and kicked something heavy and my toe still tingles — might’ve been the future he foresaw.

As a Judge, had the personality for it. It might've come from his time in the service where they have exacting standards and allow little deviance from the requirements. The politically correct side of me says to honor his service, but the practical side of me hints that he might’ve had a happier disposition if he’d just dodged the draft and left the fighting to other less fortunate souls. Be all that as it may, fate brought us together. He had one battlefield, the front, then chose another battlefield, my life, messing up my one fortunate break...

Looking back, though, and I oftentimes have, it could’ve been fun wrestling boys. I obviously can’t go back now. But I probably would’ve lived through it. Now I could almost do it, be flipped by classmates, pinned, depantsed, whatever it takes, with pictures of me later showing up in the bathroom. And everyone's rumor, “The wilting flower act is just an act, the little perv has a hidden agenda...” No, that'd be horrible.

But as the guidance counselor and his staff of bewigged judges would no doubt rule: “Guilty! Guilty! Guilty! Condemned to be hanged by the neck until he’s dead, and leave him there just in case.”

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

What Guidance Counselors Die Of

No. 16 of 30 -- Guidance Counselor series

At this point, it has to be clear, whether or not you understand its nature, severity, etc., that something awful happened to me with a guidance counselor.

Yes, I'm a broken man. Wrung out like a sponge. Barely a drop to my name. Soon to seize up -- that'd be the ultimate ending -- eyes as big as saucers, mouthing but unable to utter my last vain complaint: "What ... happened ... to ... my ... life?" Nothing comes out clearly, but I motion to my neck, which everyone at first takes as senseless muscle/nerve activity, involuntary motions. But, no, there's a purpose. They find a locket and open it, never for a moment expecting Super Fly to launch himself into the air and fly off who knows where! Super Fly will destroy the world! Then they look to the locket one last time for a clue to this terror: It's a picture of a man, of the sons of men! Hands out as if in a wrestling pose! And a strange expression on his face as if to say, I'm here to do guidance counseling!

Hope that clarifies things. The guidance counselor caused me endless suffering, all because of a few seizures and me being excused from a semester of wrestling. Doesn't seem like much of an offense at this point, decades later. But at the time, you would’ve thought I was the one standing in the way of some great cause or hope. I don’t know what it could’ve been; the cure of cancer comes to mind. Or other dread diseases -- Dog breath and Italian breath present themselves --  that have given the world such tragedy and sadness.

My own thoughts on tragedies and diseases is, I hope they don’t get me. I’ve been in pretty good health since those days. No more seizures, which proves the wisdom of me skipping that semester of wrestling. Since then I’ve had the usual sickness, the flu a time or two. I’ve cut myself on nails or whatever, nothing too bad, and I’ve survived nicely. All the while, the guidance counselor, who was quite a bit older, himself did die. That’s true, he’s gone. So what’s that prove? He was older than me and was likely to die first? Or that his unrighteousness did him in? I can’t prove either one, so I'll just go with the one that has me at the center of the trouble. But my hands are up! It's not my fault, it's his!

Who knows what exactly did him in, heart attack, cancer, rickets, juvenile diabetes, plain cussedness, lymphoma, or something easier to spell, but it was something. I walk through cemeteries every once in a while and usually they don’t say what they died off. But we can guess, Whatever it was, it was something. So something’s what did the guidance counselor in, related to me or not. He might’ve died of a broken heart. Say everyone else took wrestling after me and no one stirred his enmity a second time, he might’ve just died of disappointment.

It’s true there are lots of terrible diseases that I wouldn’t want to have. But am I all for stamping them out? Not really, because 1) Doctors need to make a living, too; 2) We need a full slate of things to die from so everyone’s not dying of the same boring stuff. You might die of boredom itself but for interesting diseases.

Another great reason to keep on track with death is, You are going to have enemies, just like the guidance counselor was to me. If they’re going to die, it needs to be something they don’t necessarily understand. I don’t know if the guidance counselor thought of me right before his death. That would've been wild: "Father, forgive me for treating that kid like crap so long ago. I didn't know I'd die from it.” But a consoling voice comes from Heaven: "Don't worry, my son, even if that's what it was, I had lots of other stuff to choose from, like your time in Las Vegas."

Monday, April 15, 2019

Guidance Counselor's Hot Time In Vegas

No. 15 of 30 -- Guidance Counselor series

I try to keep my blog clean of too much sex and dirty talk. I’ve always been that way, keep the bedroom talk for the bedroom or between friends behind the barn, just randomly cussing this or that for each other’s laughs. On the blog, I have a lot of innocent people, maybe even students researching topics for essays, and if they quote me I don’t want them to fail. There are times, periodically, where it’d be better for the teacher to steer them clear to some other site than here. Which is usually safe.

Today is one of those bad days, perhaps, but I just started. I'm wondering today what happened that time the guidance counselor went to Las Vegas. And as usual I have no hard and fast knowledge of what he actually did. It was obviously covered up immediately. No light escaped the darkness. He went for knowledge, he got knowledge. Carnal knowledge, perhaps. The last thing he would’ve ever done would be confide in me. Which would’ve been a real gas, to pull me over and say, “Guess what I did on my vacation....” Then my eyes are big as saucers and later I’m telling my friends on the bus.

Now, however, I’m an adult, and know how things hang. And my mind is every bit as sneaky as his was back in the day. And I know exactly what he had on his dirty little mind when he went to Las Vegas, for a (cough cough) seminar on guidance counseling. How the administration of the school could ever be taken in to allow such a thing, that’s a mystery. The mystery must find its answer in a blunt: They Knew. He goes to Vegas with a certain amount of money, then goes to all the shady places where they give shady receipts. How about that? Wild oats time at the seminar.

All the way out there, he’s rubbing his hands in excited anticipation. “Can’t wait for that seminar on 'The Tortured Psyche of Our Students Today' or 'Constructive Criticism Is Out, Criticize for the Hell of It.'" Let's say he spent five minutes at each of those meetings, enough time to get the notes and his picture taken at the dais, then he's off to the happy girls, boa feathers starting at the crack of the ass and proceeding six feet over their heads. From the slimiest, slitheringest boas you can think of out of the depths of the deepest Amazon...

I personally wouldn’t be caught dead with girls like that. I have a huge fear intolerance and would rather die a happy life as an out and out virgin than spend a dime on the feverish hell they have to offer. But then again I was and am a person with huge ideals. Yeah, I've had my moments, like everyone, but when I say “No, not happening,” that’s exactly how it is. And I’ve never varied from that standard, piece of trivia for you. Rock of purity.

As it turns out, I probably would’ve made a decent guidance counselor. Had I not been tainted by the profession. And even if I did, I’d probably have been excluded from the polite society of guidance counselors for the cudgel I’ve held against them so many decades. Wouldn’t that be great though? I’ve literally never thought of me as a guidance counselor till this very moment. Because I’ve always had this grudge, kept secret except from people I’ve known personally who actually hated to hear it. I would’ve made a great guidance counselor.

But picture my guidance counselor. He’d be in Las Vegas, everything on lurid repulsive display, his whole works right there in plain sight, as big as life, however big life happened to be in his case. Then the happy girls come in, who’ve already seen everything and know the science of getting rid of guys fast. “Ooo la la,” they purr, getting him going. “Oh, you bad boy!” They sternly lecture him, “What are you, a guidance counselor,” she purrs, “how fun!” At that point or in the next few minutes he gets his money’s worth, ha! His fake receipt stamped, he heads home, thinking it over on the plane what he’s going to say: “It was a great conference, full of insights.” Yeah, I’ll bet you buggered everything in sight, you dog!”

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Abe Lincoln vs Guidance Counselors

No. 14 of 30 -- Guidance Counselor series

I’ve long claimed Abraham Lincoln as my spirit animal. And in spite of the pathetic pleas of those who think they know him better — scholars, historians, and other self-appointed busybodies who never even met the man — I’ll keep right on believing and living in strength through that truth.

Like Lincoln, I’m a person of many dreams. I’ve been dreaming since I was a kid and I believe in dreams. Many are scary, doubts whether I will withstand the challenges of the future, etc. But a lot of my fears I’ve put away, such as the childhood nightmares of Judgment Day. They pop up maybe weekly, but a few good screams and a tiny bit of crawling the walls and it's all over. That’s on my parents, of course, for taking me to church every time the doors were open. It might’ve stunted my childhood, but in a way I’m happy for it: It's a killer excuse for anything that goes wrong.

I used to wander in the snow like in the picture and think, think, think. Some very practical things, such as “What should I do about these boots, so kids won’t make fun of me for having big clodhoppers?” I remember once taking them off and slogging the rest of the way to school in Hush Puppies, which were ruined by the snow. The lesson wasn’t to quit worrying about what kids would think, but hope Mom found better boots.

All the time I was thinking, huffing and puffing: Would I die in the snow? Would class be OK? Would I be able to skate by another year, then be promoted? What would it be like in high school, when I’d be faced with all sorts of things — higher learning, dissecting frogs? I could only imagine it as a kid. I imagined the older kids at school towering over me. They seemed to be laughing, not crying. So whatever was to come, I’d have to manage.

Then high school had a lot of downsides, of course, really apparent when the guidance counselor showed his ugly head. But he had to earn his bread like everyone, meaning, when you’re guidance counselor you have to instill in kids a terrible fear of the future. Always hinting they’ll never make it unless... And then you get the scary bully tactics, laced with criticism, taking advantage of your innocence. “There are those who make it, then there's the vast majority who fall dead on the way.” Which finally explained the ditches full of corpses every time I went to town.

Is that any way to do education? It is if the goal is to keep one-time barber-college, wrestling-coach wannabes who settle for counseling and guiding students with barely five cents worth of personal decency to rub together employed. My big problem wasn’t native ability and lack of drive, but someone to walk beside me and not to kick me in the snow when the bell was about to ring.

So Abraham Lincoln towers above, whom -- if my vast historical knowledge still holds true to the facts and isn’t touched with Alzheimer’s Blessing, sweet forgetfulness, and a soon sinking into insentience and a calling home by the Lord of Judgment Day that I glimpsed so long ago -- was the 16th president. Which rankles everyone a bit that he’s so far down the list when we celebrate his day and Washington’s like they were contemporaries. Spoiler alert, Washington was already dead and moldering before Lincoln's dad took it out!

But the guidance counselor and I, though from different generations, were contemporaries. And my contempt for him to this day proves it. I’m even somewhat provoked right this minute, even though that stale dude's been dead these many years, to walk out in the snow right now, if we had any, and call out to the skies, “What’ve you got, Guidance Fool!? Something better than Lincoln?!”

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Mentality Half-Formed, Totally Stupid

No. 13 of 30 -- Guidance Counselor series

Through this hardhitting guidance counselor series, I have rightly portrayed myself as the aggrieved party. With the guidance counselor being the supposedly responsible adult with an actual profession of “guidance” and “counseling” to uphold and perform. Far from what I was, an innocent high school kid, not an adult, with the innocent psyche of a half-formed, mentally bereft person, barely there at all.

It's so hard to picture me as immature, but I was. Because look at me today. People look at me, they point to me, maybe they read my blog and say, “There’s no one more mature, more responsible or qualified to lead the youth of tomorrow.” And it’s so true. I always take the position most aligned with good behavior, benefits for all, and responsibility. It’s not for nothing that my blog was voted “Best Blog to Fall Asleep To” three years in a row by the juvenile delinquents in my neighborhood. It was also a true survey, the results not determined, like most, by payoffs.

But I seriously wasn’t precisely an infant in a playpen in high school, but virtually. I didn’t know anything about anything. If you would’ve told me that babies came from baby factories and parents picked them up, I would’ve believed it. The closest thing to sex I knew was dirty magazines, which in those days weren’t explicit. More cartoons than anything, all hinting around about something but never quite coming out and showing it. Not like we have today, a fully inflamed wanton moisturized ready-to-go double-page spread and engraved invitation unmistakable in begging eyes.

So when I showed up at the guidance counselor’s office, I wasn't ready to be under his thumb and wasn't prepared to take him on. I appreciate it today that kids are schooled a lot more in what adults can do to them and the signs they need to watch for and the responsible things to do as a response. Back then they simply trusted adults and suspected kids of being dummies, which I at least was.

So we might wonder how did wrestling coaches get away with so much? And how did guidance counselors manage to break their students psychologically? With so few consequences. There was an stupid innocence and lack of awareness then that adults are up to no good if given half a chance. So these guys could commit murder and it'd be your fault...

It makes my blood boil, at least simmer, to see an adult guidance counselor in the same playpen as an innocent baby (representing me) wailing like he’s somehow the aggrieved party. I’d like to grab that lousy stinking bastard by the scruff of the neck, or let’s say cinch his tie up a little tighter for him. Then with his head straining like a filthy pimple, engage him toward expanding his professional disciplinary horizons. "You bastard" is right! How dare you?!

Friday, April 12, 2019

I'm Perfectly Normal

No. 12 of 30 -- Guidance Counselor series

This isn’t a good day. I’m feeling mucho funky about myself. Usually everything's great and I have the world’s best self image, perpetually, depending on which parts of the world we’re talking about. But not today.

And, yes, this cross on my back -- this guidance counselor series -- is bringing out the best and the worst in me, depending on how it hits me at any given moment. Some days I’m on top of the world; there were a couple fleeting moments yesterday. Then other times I’m sinking somewhat, but still bobbling along like the red red robin. Other times, unfortunately, like today, I’m a wild-eyed mad man, in one of my budget barn Elvis costumes, wild-eyed as I said, bad complexion, and eyes going crazy wild, wielding a sword and swishing it madly through the air, cutting everything in sight!

Call it what it is, some sort of dissociative dysfunction, I think, crabgrass of the brain. I’m having a hard time scooping out memories of the guidance counselor and dumping them before the public. And most of you have been sympathetic and encouraging, don’t get me wrong. But there’s a small group — like always — that comes down on the side of the guidance counselor... The guy could’ve flayed and panbroiled me and these buzzards would see no problem at all: "Don’t question your betters!" Their twisted myopic view is guidance counselors can do no wrong! Let's flip 'em off!

Dredging up any detail of the past for me has karma the size of the Titanic. If I'm thinking of some innocent thing, like us kids threatening a Nude-In in high school, I would associate it now in a negative way. Instead of the great joy it was. Certainly, then, something as tumultuous and negatively memorable as the guidance counselor making me his personal punching bag, all while keeping it psychological and therefore hard to prove, has a hurtful side.

One of my doctors thinks my flailing about with the sword is healthy and one strenuously disagrees. So with one doctor, I’m sitting there with it proudly. With the other I’m a little more reticent, because I hate being judged, as I know this guy is no doubt thinking in his mind, “This dude’s squirrelly. His stupid sword. His stupid guidance counselor issues. How insipid. Let’s move on, pal. Give me a break. Pay the bill and make another appointment.”

And I don’t have the slightest clue how dismissive he is of me and my ever-present traumas. Giving me, unbeknownst to him, yet another grievance that someday if I live long enough I’ll also be working through.