Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Guidance Counselor Go Bye Bye

Part 30 of 30 -- Guidance Counselor series (bye bye)

The end of the school year came and as it turned out was anticlimactic. Especially looking in hindsight. Everyone had to deal with end of the year issues, getting your hats ordered for graduation, etc. Then there was the whole deal with the locker, which I should’ve never had to deal with. If there's a problem, call the insurance guy.

We always have the world we have, though, and that was how it was back then. There was a definite ending point in view. And everything from that point is your place in the world as they foresaw it, or different, and making do, getting by, trying, striving, failing, trying again, relationships, having children, starting blogs, learning about computers, life insurance, burying your parents, scattering their ashes to the four winds, and looking forward, most of all, when you learn later in life that the guidance counselor eventually met his fate. With his cremains out there somewhere. I never sought them, and probably this close to my own death -- cough cough -- I’ll just wait to see his spirit in the great beyond. And go toe to toe.

But he had nice words for me as we parted, looking to make my life easier, “Don’t call, don’t write.” It’s true, it’s saved me a fortune on dimes and stamps. Which I know I could’ve done the responsible thing, given the dimes to the March of Dimes and the stamps to soldiers to write home with. But I banked the whole thing, keeping what was my own for my own purposes.

When I walked the stage to get my diploma, family over here was proud of me. They let out a cry of happiness that evaporated immediately. The other kids who’d been in the guidance counselor’s office were proud. A few of them didn’t make it, so weren’t present, so I don’t know if they were proud or not. Since they were likely hanging out on Skidrow, it’s not like we were going to see each other very often. Have I ever dreamed of being on Skidrow? That’s as far as it goes, I’ve imagined it without really ending up there.

The other big memory at graduation was seeing the guidance counselor among the rest of the faculty. There were the teachers I liked, the teachers I disliked, the school secretary whose deft handling of my money and the giving of my weekly lunch ticket is eternally impressive, a few hangers-on, like teachers from junior high, including the bastard who nailed me for nude magazine pictures in 9th grade, and of course the guidance counselor.

I never saw him again and if I ever did it would’ve been too soon.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Graduation--No More Guidance Counselor

Part 29 of 30 -- Guidance Counselor series

The big day for Graduation at long last arrived. No more teachers, no more books, no more guidance counselor’s dirty looks. Which turned out not to be literally true, because there he was on the stage and giving everyone the eye. Friendly or dirty, depending how he felt about you.

I was fairly proud not just of graduating but of everything leading up to it. When the big moment came, that which I’d stumbled my way toward for 12 long years (plus the time you sleep in Kindergarten) turned out decent enough. I somehow managed to pay for the flowing robe and hat and made it to the school on time. Pretty good, if I do say so myself, for an incompetent guidance counselee! Put that in your dirty look and smoke it!

The ceremony was supposed to be outside but was held inside because of rain. So even the weather was against me, because had it been outside, the guidance counselor would’ve been obscured by trees and shadows and maybe never brought to mind. Since it was in the school, we got the same glare of lights throughout, like at basketball games. Nowhere to hide.

Of course the scene was orderly and nice, with laughter for variances. Say someone did something out of line -- jump up and click their heels -- everyone laughed. The folding chairs had school color decor on each end, the junior orchestra was in good form belting out a few of the usual tunes. The faculty were in their places, apparently on their best behavior, not wanting to betray their true nature when so many unaware folks of the community were present. They wished it could've been outside more than the rest of us, so their biting comments and dirty sneers could've been more blatant.

The guidance counselor was on stage, like some kind of scholar. It kept running through my mind, “You almost graduated from Barber College and here you sit! Thanks to the GI Bill and the way your path was narrowed by fate! The simple fact that Barber College doesn’t have a wrestling team, and you thought you might be Coach of the team here! Then, if that’s not enough, the idea that they’d make a wanna-be wrestling coach, almost barber, the guidance counselor, how bizarre! Education isn't the orderly well-thought out profession they pretend. They grab any warm body. True guidance isn’t at work, except that of rank convenience for someone. A lowly staff person was no doubt responsible for this travesty. After making a decision of convenience, not merit, they got an extra hour to watch TV (some deadbeat guy) or have her hair done.

I saw him on stage. Every paradise has a snake in it, and this snake I had nailed. I zeroed in on him, watching for him to reveal himself. When in one moment of revelation -- when the principle had said something witty and the gym was joyous in laughter -- I caught a glimpse of him flitting his serpent’s tongue out quickly. He recovered before slithering off, maintaining his seat against further revelation. A bolt of lightning would've driven the revelation home.

It gave me a chill. But I put it out of mind. Then we were going through the alphabet, and when my letter came, near that time, our row stood and we made our way to the aisle, walking solemnly, stoically, toward either our salvation or doom. I passed the piano and prayed for strength that I wouldn’t crumple next to the principal and end up pointing to the guidance counselor, only to see him jump up like the assassin of my Spirit Animal Abraham Lincoln, and kill me before exiting the gym with a painful limp and later being hunted down like the filthy dog he was and burnt alive in one of the neighboring barns. A barn that would’ve been built for that exact fate, had it only happened.

Instead, what happened, our eyes met for a second but nothing consequential. I thought it over, “Oh, nothing, huh? Playing it safe for the rubes? Keeping up the responsible guidance counselor ruse." I got my diploma, turned the tassel from here to there and lived happily ever after. To that point.

It’s better to graduate than not. So I’m grateful I did rather than didn’t. Even when I go to graduation ceremonies now — I avoid them when possible — I wonder if a similar drama is playing out before me. I tend to ask around if anyone knows who the guidance counselor is, then watch him or her. But everyone seems real normal, nothing overtly hostile.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

My Winning Communism Speech

No. 28 of 30 -- Guidance Counselor series

I know I wrung the guidance counselor many times through the wringer. And I’ll wring him out a little more today, with suspicions of ulterior motives, but for the most part this is positive about how he helped me accomplish my persuasive speech.

Have you ever given a persuasive speech? It’s very artificial in a class, since everyone knows it’s a persuasive speech. Of course they’re looking more for technique and less to be persuaded. Whereas, say I were to give my persuasive speech to a more typical crowd of indoctrinated Americans, it's likely they would’ve been repelled instead of persuaded. Almost persuaded, but lost, running dog lackies.

And who knows? I didn’t think it at the time, but maybe the guidance counselor only helped me because he thought it’d bomb and I’d look bad. As it turned out, no one was persuaded but I did OK for content and presentation. I even studied enough on Communism that for that week I was really into it.

We heard a lot about communism then, supposedly bad, blah blah blah. I thought, Give me a break. How can most of the world be Communist and Communism be bad? I was mostly thinking about China, which had people by the ton and manufactured most of the cheap things I bought. Seemed pretty capitalist to me...

OK, the guidance counselor was suddenly alive with helpfulness. I had no idea that he might be setting me up for a public hanging. But if indeed those were his evil motives, the kids in class were mostly bored and nothing I could’ve said would've yielded anything like a public hanging. Only one kid there was a radical — this was before Fox News — and I thought he had to be faking it. His hair he kept purposely short, his shirt was tucked in his pants by choice, his belt nipple-high, he carried a briefcase and identified with the word 'warmonger.' Even he didn't mind the speech.

I no longer have my notes and supporting documents except for what I have above. But you can tell what the tact was. To expose American propaganda about communism and show the actual truth that it's a good path for society. American propaganda tended to put a negative spin on communism, showing the people sad and in chains. Whereas the true teaching, communism’s testimony of itself, showed it as entirely good, the people happy, dogs breeding with each other like normal, etc. All hunky dory, the dog population proceeding apace, the people happy, dancing on the publicly held lawns, more or less a field day for everyone everyday!

I was immediately repulsed at American propaganda for not even admitting that the Communists saw things in color like us. But everything was a dingy scratchy black and white. Was that reasonable? I actually asked my dad, who was strictly anti-Communist, and he vouched for the black and white scratchy theory. I asked a guy at the Chinese restaurant, since I didn’t know any Russians not in hiding, and he said, “No talk 'bout, order pwease.” I had a crab rangoon and left, disappointed at not knowing more about worldwide governance.

One of the things that really rang true for me was some good information I got on American capitalists being pigs. That definitely rang true in my experience, letting me know I was on the right track. That went over very well in the speech. No one rebutted the point, nor did anyone produce compelling proof that we weren’t pigs. The graphic I had on American children being pigs was pleasantly received, many laughs.

The guidance counselor gave me a thumbs up on the thing and sent me forth. When I figured out his angle, that I might’ve been publicly strung up for my foreign viewpoints, I was of course disappointed. But it was par for the course for the guy, a capitalist bastard with a stupid wrestling coach mentality in a stereotypical guidance counselor’s body.

In the grand world of communism — and someday we'll see it at long last — we’ll string up guidance counselors like him. Or reeducate them, which no doubt will be a waste of time, meaning his hanging will be an hour or so later.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Spit In My Spaceage Locker XL5000

Part 27 of 30 -- Guidance Counselor series

Here’s one for the books, my filthy locker that needed cleaned before I could graduate. And the guidance counselor took the same position as the school administration, that it was my responsibility either to clean it or pay $100, a lot of money.

This one needs a tiny bit of explanation. I was assigned the locker at the beginning of first year (of three years in our town). It was literally next door to where the wrestling team met and far from where I normally hung out. I immediately quit using it when I met a girl who let me share her locker. Her locker mate had dropped out. Then a guy I knew from Sunday School who was my original locker mate dropped out too. So our locker was abandoned.

Somehow, then, the locker abandoned by me "popped open." And unknown wrestlers and others, experimenting with chewing tobacco and other scummy pursuits, spat in it over and over. If they wanted good luck, they spat in the locker. If they had a tough opponent coming up, they spat in the locker. Over the years I periodically went by it and noticed it was open and I’d push it shut, but since the lights were bad down that hallway I didn’t notice the mess.

So the time for graduation came and I was tagged for having a dirty locker! It took a while to realize they were dinging me for the original locker, unused by me for three years. But when I went to look at it -- damn right, it was dripping with spit, with plenty more, years worth, encrusted everywhere. And not just that but dust balls that float randomly through the air. Everything you’d expect a sewer to be if sewers came in locker form. And now they expected me to pay $100 to clean it up...

Well, guess what, I said a little prayer, “Help me out of this mess. Some a-holes spat in my locker! Amen.” The very next thing, one of the janitors that I was halfway friends with came down the hall. He didn’t know the spit locker was mine but was sympathetic when I told him. Sympathetic to the point of taking me to his closet and sharing some of the original literature that came with the lockers.

You see a piece of it in the graphic. That brand of lockers was advertised as self-cleaning! Meaning, cleaning it should not my problem. And if the self-cleaning mechanism was broken, it was the school’s responsibility to fix it. The fact that the lockers were put in in the early ‘50s had nothing to do with it.

I explained the problem to a friend in the debate club, and he presented my case to the school board, who had to agree, the defendant didn’t owe a cent. The school was at fault!

So where does this leave the guidance counselor? Thanks, bud, for stabbing me in the back once again. After the great times we spent together, you doubted me one last time. But a big thanks to the janitor and his wife Deidra, who also had me over for donuts. She commiserated with me, saying how sorry she was that some bad boys spat in my locker. I patted her hand and told her truly, “That means a lot to me.”

Friday, April 26, 2019

The Great Colossus

Part 26 of 30 -- Guidance Counselor series

At this point in my life I suddenly knew how the Statue of Liberty feels, not just once in a while but everyday of her fascinating life, similar to Martin Luther, “Here I stand, I can do no other.” Which was an incredible insight for Luther, because when he lived the Statue of Liberty was still nothing but a gigantic French puzzle. People dreamt of it, “Will this thing ever be pieced together and floated to America on barges?”

When you put it that way, I guess I shouldn't have worried so much about the guidance counselor and my life. It sounds like things were fairly well, or most definitely, set in stone, foreordained, and going to happen more or less as much as any other alternative. Heavy stuff, I know, but my super brain, fit only for a Colossus, or split in pieces and shared by several brainless men, can think such things (1) and recognize them when they eventually come to pass (2).

The guidance counselor, then, knowing the school year was ending and that he'd soon be rid of me, was in helpful mode. “What can we do to cobble together a reasonable cover story for your educational pursuit thus far, resembling as it does the Wild Mouse ride at the carnival, a rip roaring scary ride, fraught with bumps and bruises, but in the end still on track?” I thought, “Now you’re talking my language. The end is set from the beginning, but just getting there is half the fun.”

“Something like that,” he deadpanned in his usual sour tone. As much as saying, “What do you know?” With a side of “I’m also guidance counselor for the best and brightest of this school. Let me get you on track, Mouse, so I’ll be able to deny whatever bad eventually happens.” A real Judas Iscariot moment if you ask in hindsight. But it’s true, life is about sinking or swimming. Dying in the embers or rising from the ash heap and taking your place. Does anyone really doubt that a guy like me — with loving parents — would rise to take my place with the immortals? Hearing none, the motion's carried.

Just looking at my Colossus pose is enough to put me on top of the world, even today, so long after the events of the past, fraught yet with bad memories, but with the evidence of whatever wrongdoing was done either long forgotten, lost, or being eaten by mice in the educational headquarters and their hidden files. The beauty of the whole thing now is, despite the guidance counselor’s many fevered insults about me, none of it matters anymore.

Plus, I could go to a hypnotist right now and still be put in a trance and forever be centered on the image of me as the Great Colossus, striding over a dominion vast in scale. This Colossus wouldn’t be a bit funny. Not a bit, for in my mind, with the hypnotist’s help, I would stride around the city knowing, certain that I am the champion of the world! Be nice to me or that could happen.

It really gave me a funny feeling to think, “Here I am, every bit as good as the guidance counselor, and destined to surpass him in every way. And I guess I have in certain ways. I’m still alive and he’s dead. And I know where his cremains are buried. And I’m not yet cremains myself, but like I mentioned before, I’m still alive. Not to rub it in too deeply, alive unlike him, who is dead.

But he was alive that day -- damn the luck -- and that’s what always matters about the past.

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.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Guidance Counselor -- A Shinola Shine

 No. 11 of 30 -- Guidance Counselor series

I'm a firm believer in the sense we have these days that everyone is a person of value and worth. And that all the jobs people have, if it’s honest labor and accompanied with a certain amount of dignity, it’s good. I know that's an over-generalization and that anyone can think of exceptions — beyond the obvious exception, guidance counselors — but it’s not my place today to run the gamut of possibilities, just to express in general the way life works.

Are there good guidance counselors? I believe there must be. We look out on a dark night at the stars. And we have no real sense of how far away they are because the distances are impossible to fully embrace. I see a lot of videos these days on outer space and the distances from earth to even the next galaxy over (with there being millions of other galaxies) and it’d take you tens of thousands of years, were even possible, to get to the next galaxy. So, yes, in an existence where the seemingly impossible is possible, it's more than likely that good guidance counselors exist.

Sounds like heresy, I know, from someone who’s spent his post-high school life railing incessantly against them. But look back at the record and you will not find me categorically saying every guidance counselor is evil, worthless, etc. Because in my heart of hearts I am a definite optimist. I see the impossibility of space travel to distant galaxies and say, “It could be done were it possible.” See the optimism? The fact that it is impossible with current technology, and my current level of ignorance, off the charts, puts me among the skeptics. But never say never, unless you’re saying never say never.

One thing I know for sure, my guidance counselor wasn’t good to me. You tell me the chances of me as an old adult still dealing with the bad memories of a guidance counselor. I'm virtually a dead weed -- I envy crabgrass --  but I'm still going at it. And that dirt-bag still occupies a very dark place near my roots, my psyche, a place entirely off limits to everything and everyone except the bitterest foes from hell. And even with demons I expect a certain level of decency and accountability.

I would love to open the records and air my grievances on some grand stage, where of course I would be dealt with fairly and not just as a guy with sour grapes. But I’m afraid my case would never be dealt with fairly. Instead, they would likely to take the guidance counselor’s side every time, and even though they said they wouldn’t deal with me as a guy with sour grapes, that’s exactly how it’d work out. Or it'd be like this, smoothing the edges; the guidance counselor was misunderstood, his ways were inscrutable but always meant for good. Don't go there...

Next, they’d bring in the grandchildren of the guidance counselor who would say he was a quality person right up to his demise. And that his saintly last words were a survey of his righteousness and a plea that, “If there’s anyone I’ve ever wronged in my godly life — and there’s absolutely not — that I be absolved of all that now and forever — blogs to the contrary be damned.”

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Better Places To Hide

No. 10 of 30 -- Guidance Counselor series

Is the world big enough for you? Or do you agree with me that we need better places to hide from guidance counselors? And if the world were bigger, that’s exactly what we would have. If you agree wholeheartedly with me, please sit in absolute silence and tell yourself it’s so. I will sense your agreement. Because if we say it out loud, we'd certainly encourage guidance counselors to buckle down and torment their kids more. And knowing guidance counselors as I do, the last thing they need is more incentive than what they have inappropriately appropriated to themselves already.

Am I serious about guidance counselors or is this some kind of joke? Are heart attacks serious? Diphtheria, cancer, dog breath, Italian breath, rickets, psoriasis, hangovers? Are these dread conditions serious? Yes, they’re DAMNED serious, forgive the profanity. And I’m D——— serious too. My life, saints be praised, wasn’t completely ruined as it turned out, but if my guidance counselor had fulfilled his complete will, I would’ve been mush a long time ago, consigned to the garbage heap, tossed out like so many dirty diapers.

One thing I did when I didn’t have to be with him was scrupulously avoid him. It couldn’t be done all the time, of course, because the school wasn’t enormous, but if I knew he was going to be someplace, I avoided that place. Just like you would avoid toxins to the extent that you could. Poison ivy, poison oak, poison anything.

If I would’ve had full range and not been a minor and not had parents, I would’ve been long gone. As it was, once I graduated, I immediately moved to a different town. More because I got a job there, then went to college and had other jobs over the years, with only the positive additional benefit of being away from him. After high school, my prayers were answered, and I never saw the guidance counselor again. I went my way, and though I had been unfortunate enough to have crossed his path in high school, the rest of my life was lived in greater happiness and peace.

It actually turned out that if the world had been even smaller I likely would’ve avoided him too. But all that is with the benefit of hindsight. At the time I didn’t know. I could’ve gone to the ends of the earth and he would’ve been there. I didn’t know. I actually was in a small town hitchhiking once, well over 100 miles from where I lived, and someone pulled up and asked me if I was such-and-such, my name. And I didn’t know them. So I’ve never been sure if that person was a living tentacle from him.

Speaking of the earth, it’s interesting how we got the continents we have. I saw this on a science show recently. The continents once upon a time were one land mass! So you can look at the contours of the different continents and see how they fit together like a puzzle. Pretty cool that I learned that, huh?

But why did the Good Lord cause the continents to separate over eons, millions of years? Scientists don’t know the full answer, but research is starting more and more to point to one clear inescapable conclusion: to give kids more places to avoid guidance counselors if push comes to shove.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Credo: Strip 'Em Down

No. 9 of 30 - Guidance Counselor series

I don’t know if people hear the same things we used to hear, more or less on a daily basis, that you’re a cog, a gear, or screw somewhere in the ultimate works of society. The days I’m recalling were well before they encouraged big aspirations in every kid. Essentially they helped you focus on your little place as a responsible nut or bolt in the overall works.

I say I don’t know, but on reflection, it appears certain, at least on the surface, that a lot of that has gone by the wayside. In the post-WWII period it was one way, settling into your position, whether by social planning, a divine purpose, or just your natural responsiveness to the obvious underlying drive. The same thought went into the cookie cutter houses they came up with, in haste, in getting society back on a peacetime footing.

Not to be too sociological, there seems to be a natural progression from the helter skelter scene of wartime to fitting into definite channels for peacetime. But they never actually said any of this. So if you’re a kid, you think they’re just against you personally. When it’s really only a macro sense of things and getting you situated in your little slot. And anyone who doesn’t fit precisely, now now now, is like a spare part to be cast aside.

And I suppose, naturally, some of those drives went into giving us a generation of guidance counselors straight from the bowels of hell. There they were, fermenting in the bowels of hell -- like other bowels but smellier -- not even fully aware themselves of the infernal basis of their hellish drives, every bit the same cogs in an unforgiving machine that they expected us to be, working it point by point, sending you up the chute of happiness or driving you down down down like the worm you were. Or pond scum, which to me is nastier than worms. And we grew up afraid of pond scum, not knowing we shared certain sociological qualities with those denizens of the shallow.

So here we have the guidance counselors of that day, assembling in rigid lines, themselves parts in the system, and being sent like demons to their bitter work, marking the quick and privileged for their destiny, then the rest of us to a dim purgatory of fruitless existence. Without even the mercy we might grant worms, the mercy we show when we poke air-holes in their little cup or container.

Is it too harsh to suggest that the Guidance Counselor Credo was “Strip ‘em down, sell them into servitude, etc.”? It’s right up there with Death Row, of course, with the 13 last steps to the gallows and a priest muttering words of comfort, more or less for himself, before they release the trapdoor. It’s a terrible credo, yes, but 100% accurate. And if the guidance counselor worked overtime, the percentage went up several additional points.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Desperately Seeking Grunts

Part 8 of 30 -- Guidance Counselor series

What are the motives of guidance counselors? This is one of the unanswered mysteries that has never been definitely answered. The surface explanation, of course, has to do with supposed guidance and counseling. A student, let’s say, needs counseling about his or her path. What will I be? How do I get there? The guidance counselor is there, at least superficially informed about those issues and at his best faithfully tending to students’ needs.

I wondered what I would be too. I thought about the future. But in all the weeks I was with the guidance counselor, sitting in his office literally with him right there present with me, I can't remember him once asking me any such questions or wondering what I’d need to do to get there. Instead, he was more often sour, like he resented the fact that I was there, and acted like it was ridiculous for a kid should've been wrestling to be sitting in the office with him. Wish I hadn't been so innocent and nice, I could've jabbed him. "You served our country fighting the Koreans (and by extension Chinese and Russian Communists) and you can't handle the weekly visitation of one meek boy?"

Why was I there? In case you missed one of the other parts, I had a series of seizures, just a few, and my mother thought the semester of wrestling would equal the onset of more. And I can see that, if I were thrown about the room, and bearing the pressure of other boys on top of me, or holding my legs up in the air as they pinned me hard to the mat below. Why it had to be the guidance counselor to babysit me, that's something I can’t remember at all, school choice. He was probably the only guy with few actual duties. What’s a guidance counselor do all day? Not counseling kids much while they’re in school, because they’re already in classes. I guess the basic purpose of a guidance counselor is to have someone step in for the wrestling coach when and if the wrestling coach is ever disgraced by his lust for the ladies.

I really hate thinking of myself as a guy the guidance counselor resented. Spectacular little old me? But he made it clear enough in his funky little asides and look of disdain that it was so. With a little more maturity I really could’ve entertained him, or kept his spirits up. If I’d known about the internet in the future and blogs, I might’ve told him, “Sometime in the distant future I will be writing a series about you. This won’t be posted in the newspaper or on bathroom walls, but will be visible and available to the entire world. But I won't use your name, because your name should be forgotten.”

It’s one of my big regrets that I wasn’t able to flummox the guidance counselor a little bit more. To get on his nerves. To really take him on not so much personally but on a professional level. By asking the obvious questions (obvious now, not then), What are guidance counselors for?

I’m afraid the answer might not be as high flown as we’ve all come to expect. But instead is something like this, to sift out the undesirables from the desirables. The haves and the have-nots. Those destined to be the grunts of industry, dispensable in every way, and quick to be forgotten when they’re ground under foot. What if guidance counselors were becoming hugely wealthy by selling students into industry for 30 cents per kid? I can see it becoming so mainstream very few people would even notice. Look at the things we get used to in politics. These days if someone broke the Bill of Rights out of its hermetically sealed case and wiped their ass on it, we’re so jaded we’d be saying “Would you like a hot towel with that?” They’d say yes and we’d be heating up Betsy Ross’s dirty old antique flag.

Well, buster, I’m no grunt... I’m here from the future to put you under arrest, and to take you with me back to the future to stand trial for your crimes and the crimes of your profession. Who do you work for? What are their plans for the future. Skip that last question; I’ll look it up on the WWW when I get back. And when you and I get to the future, the first thing we’ll do is Google your death to make sure we get you back in time for it. Don’t look at me like that. I’m not crazy. That’s how we talk someday.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Disembowel Him Once For Us

No. 7 of 30 -- Guidance Counselor series

Real life happens without a chorus. You get choruses in plays, Greek plays. They’re a technique to show public opinion and the sentiments of the times and circumstances without having a guy stand there and tell you. More choruses would be great now, but we do have pundits on TV to explain every nuance of public affairs. And choruses might be unreliable, since they’d be giving us everything on their fool minds, not the salient points of an established playwright.

I wouldn’t mind being a member of the chorus, alternately booing whoever it is who’s the villain of the day or cheering the heroes. But doing it without booing and cheering, but by super targeted comments, encapsulating public sentiment and immediately convicting or encouraging those in the light. Like Twitter.

In school, I kept most of my affairs to myself. I don’t even think I told my mom of my travails with the guidance counselor. That would’ve been interesting, wish I would have planted a bug in her ear. She was the one who got me the wrestling deferment, and it’s only right she should’ve been the one to stand up to the guidance counselor and pull his evil fangs out of my back. Always making me feel badly about myself — or trying his devilish best to do so. She could’ve gone in there and rained hail-knots on his garbage scalp. As it was, he saw his chance to make me an example — to no one in particular except for his own satisfaction — and took it. My big regret.

One thing about it is clearly wrong, his delight at reducing me in his and my own estimation by my compliance, 1) by even going to his office; and 2) sitting there and taking it. Wow, looking back on it in hindsight, I had great options, but maybe greater consequences if they'd gone sour. I could've been instrumental in getting him removed as guidance counselor! That would’ve been awesome. But then I would’ve had to face the next loser they dragged in, and he or she (it would’ve been a he then) might’ve been worse. ‘So you’re the little punk who offs guidance counselor, huh? Well, off THIS!” he demands, and suddenly I’m deflowered.

Or I wouldn't have had to have the original guidance counselor barred; I could’ve petitioned for some relief from his scornful behavior. Which everyone would’ve understood and applauded if they were true to their values. It was these very souls — the few good and the many evil — who taught me about the American colonists petitioning the King of England for America. I can’t remember all their demands. I think they sought lemonade every other weekend and three square meals on Wednesdays.

How bad the crowd must’ve been in England and America. Because crowds are out for blood, mobs. Mob action, death! Hang him! Disembowel him! Even as the guy is whetting his most ferocious blade, a big machete, big enough to lop someone’s head off, or otherwise trim him, making him worthless for women or men of the same mind.

Well, anyway, here we are decades later. I still have all my bowels. However many you’re born with, they’re all still there. And exercised on a daily basis, as nature calls.