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.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

The Guidance Counselor's Influence

No. 6 of 30 -- Guidance Counselor series

The graphic is from recent years, when as an old man I started having colonoscopies. Now I'm an evangelist for colonoscopies, recommending them to everyone for the good they can do. It involves going in the anus with some kind of camera tube and it extends up into you and sees if there’s polyps in there. If there are they can be cancerous. Whether they are or not they usually take them out, depending on various factors that I don’t need to go into. The beauty of the whole thing from the patient’s point of view is they put you to sleep and a second later you’re in recovery.

Do I mind having them? Not really. Of course I’d rather I'd never need anything of the medical type. But eventually there we are. If you get older, things will go wrong with age, and if you want your life to progress with less complications, a little prevention or intervention is necessary. Colonoscopies are one of the procedures that are very helpful toward having positive outcomes. Get together with your doctor and see if you could benefit from one.

Now, naturally, when you’re on the table, you’re not there to quibble with the doctors about their views on things. For instance, I don’t ask them which news channels they watch. Because I’m trusting that no matter how crazy their viewpoints might be, they know their colonoscopy stuff. And I don’t seriously ask them whether they’ve been influenced at any point in the past by guidance counselors. (Yes, it always crosses my mind.) One, what can you do about it? Your past is your past. And again, they can do great colonoscopies no matter their interactions with guidance counselors.

I'm definitely suspicious of anyone who’s had interactions with guidance counselors and have liked them. Because my guidance counselor was a no-good so and so. But that doesn’t mean I’m personally a bad person. Just as it wouldn’t mean my doctors were no-good if they had these relationships. Anyway, a guidance counselor's influence may be fleeting, and the consensus almost has to be that there are guidance counselors who are good people. I’m optimistic enough to believe that, but never forget, they're more likely out to get you in a negative way.

A person could ask their physician just as quickly if they were ever influenced by wrestling coaches. Which is equally questionable as far as I’m concerned. Am I saying there’s no good wrestling coaches? Again, for legal reasons, I can’t go that far. Not every wrestling coach is a varmint. It’s hard to type that, but my lawyer said it should be there. And anything I write that seems to suggest anything to the contrary deals with individuals not cited by name and not representative of the profession as a whole (wink wink).

Which could be the actual truth, hard as it is to believe. Because think of the statistics. They say there’s good in everyone — we’ve all heard that — so despite the individuals we’ve known and loathed over the years, they do not necessarily taint entire classes of people. I know that objectively and affirm that as the truth.

I should probably also put a disclaimer about colonoscopies. I personally think they’re good, with a doctor’s recommendation, for their purpose, diagnosing problems or giving the all clear. But they may not be for everyone and I’m not claiming they are.

Why I feel I need to scrupulously hedge my legal bets here is anyone’s guess. But I do. And let me add, Nothing in this blog should be used to judge, diagnose, or derive actual useful information. It is for entertainment purposes only, and by reading it, you hold the writer absolutely harmless from all legal ramifications and/or claims. If you're not entertained, you read a long way trying to be, and I affirm that.

Anything else that you read here that might be offensive — like almost everything else I write — is strictly my personal opinion and not anyone else’s, except my loyal readers', who dwell somewhere in the known world and do not wish to be identified as such.

Friday, April 5, 2019

My Violent Fantasies

No. 5 of 30 - Guidance Counselor series

Of course in terms of actual history I never hit the guidance counselor. I sat there like a good boy. And we weren’t opposed to violence in those days. But I had some pragmatism, a self-interest to protect. And if he showed up today, I'd give him a friendly embrace. Even though he deserved a good whacking, a thrashing like he wouldn’t believe. But I had to worry about staying in school. Because to drop out would’ve meant a life of low paying jobs. Instead of the wealth I'm surrounded with now. Just bought a microwave three weeks ago.

But those days are gone, and we’re geared for fantasies, you know I’m right. I bet most of you have serious fantasies. I’m not going to sketch out any of mine, except to state what’s obvious in everyone’s experience: I’m the center of it and it involves lots of different characters all with very perverse intentions and playful schemes of behavior. Which is enough about that.

Most of my fantasies do not — let me repeat, do not — involve guidance counselors. But now that I’m old, maybe I missed out on something. It really took a lot of thinking in these latter days of my life, leading to this blog series, for me to flesh out what are likely the patterns of guidance counselors. Most of you probably had good guidance counselors, at least seemingly good. They were good enough not to jump your bones on the first session, and if you only had one session with them, you got off scot-free.

To be fair to my guidance counselor — a guy I did not like and would have no reason to say good things about if they weren’t true — he never once jumped my bones or attempted to. He was passive/aggressive, yes, but only in ways either to help me or injure me psychically, not sexually. I would never accuse anyone falsely of such a thing. As it turns out, with adults (and me as a kid) there was never ever the slightest untoward thing that anyone did to me. Which these days is no laughing matter, of course.

I didn't care for his words and attitude, though, and his behavior was not exemplary in the fullest psychological sense. But there was lots of room for deniability for him. Which my Mom could've discerned and figured it out. She got me in with the guidance counselor in the first place, so I wouldn’t have to take part in a semester of wrestling. But even she did not know the problem.

It does me some devious mental good to take him on in memory. It's funny. Like this sitting on a bench and faking a yawn and, oops, a black eye. And, yes, I know gratuitous violence is also out today -- we're so righteous -- but this is purposeful violence, indicating my desire to strike back, to smite righteously a hostile adult figure. Which is still allowed. "Oh, did my fist accidentally smite your eye?"

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Protesting The Guidance Counselor

No. 4 of 30 - Guidance Counselor series

Here’s one I definitely remember. I had a hot plate thing, which is a one-burner stove you plug in. And I had the idea to print up a few fliers and hang them here and there to generate interest in my drive against the system, The Man, at Dump Overlook High School.

Yes, I was a wide eyed optimist in those days, somehow foolishly thinking that bringing light to a problem would very soon set things right. To make it short and sweet, I was concerned. I thought the guidance counselor was on some pretty shaky ground as far as his behavior.

In case you missed the basics, I was excused from the required semester of wrestling for boys because I’d recently had a series of seizures. My mom was concerned wrestling would induce more seizures. It wasn’t a universally liked idea on part of the administration. Especially, for more or less unknown reasons with the guidance counselor. He himself was a wanna-be wrestling coach, and maybe he merely wanted time off and not to sit with me. Whatever, we started out on the wrong side.

I thought it’d be good to call attention to this kind of injustice. It a time when protests were sometimes spontaneous, called by someone. But my cause didn’t rally many people. But it was spontaneous, the posters put up, the hot plate put into action, and the whole thing busted up by the lunch ladies and the principal in record time. Instead of resisting further and jeopardizing my freedom, I caved to his demands and put the soup away.

But it was a shining moment, with three other kids compelled to find out what the issue was. And definitely their consciousnesses were raised at least for a few moments, leaving them perplexed as to why they wanted to shut us down so summarily. But they were much like me, not compelled to go completely to the mat for an issue not clearly defined and with a lot of ambiguity.

The principal was nice about it, even though he probably shook his head about what kids would come up with next. I don’t think he respected us in the least. And the guidance counselor, of course he was interested, trying to get his hands on whatever dirt was being spread about him. My little sessions with him were a lot like that. He was less concerned what he could do for others, for me, and more what it meant for his reputation and day. A very suspicious guy, and who knows how much of that suspicion was the result of deeper things, truths that must not be spoken. If I knew them I’d tell you. But he kept a lot of his more deeply buried secrets — truths that couldn't be told — to himself. As to confessions, he had none. I believed he was guilty of something, yet never knowing precisely what. So just like that, we were shut down!

The soup was vegetable beef and the little bit we ate was pretty good.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Entering Guidance Counselor Swamp

 No. 3 of 30 - Guidance Counselor series

Anyway, the story of my sad decline from a normal student doing normal things to having to be with the guidance counselor weekly instead of wrestling started with a short series of seizures. Which, while I wouldn't wish them on anyone, actually were very interesting. Beyond Sunday School, they were my first taste that the surface life we take for granted is not all there is. There are experiences that go well beyond the norm -- brain or hormonal disturbances, if you could only tap into them.

Did I like the seizures? Absolutely not. But they were something of a turning point for me, and not all for good, then they went away. I haven’t had any since around 15 or 16 and quit taking the medicine when I was around 20. At times I’ve had the inkling that I could bring one on if I set my mind to it, but either I haven’t set my mind to it enough or it's a bad theory, because there haven’t been any.  Throw in great hallucinations and it'd still be interesting.

OK, the seizures happened. Then a while later there was a mandatory semester of wrestling for boys my age. I dreaded the thought of wrestling, then as it happened my mom wouldn't allow me to participate in it anyway because she was afraid it might induce more seizures. These days -- more modern times -- when a kid gets an exemption because of diet, allergies, other conditions, fear of crossing the road, it’s all highly respected. Their feelings — perhaps exceedingly delicate feelings — get tons of deference. Not then!

Back then, if you weren’t bleeding from a severed arm or leg, exemptions weren’t respected at all. You’re a slacker, you’ve put a lot of thought into it, in short, it was the same as draft dodging, which was always in the news. By the way, I signed up for the draft in a responsible way and checked the box that said I would not be a conscientious objector. Although, say I was drafted, I probably would've mentioned the seizures out of full disclosure and how I was kept out of wrestling, and it might’ve saved my life again.

But for me it wasn’t the anger of other servicemen or countrymen I had to face, but the plain unexplained disappointment of one stinking bastard guidance counselor. Why it was such a big deal to him is anyone's guess. But he made me feel very low for having the exemption, and extrapolated from that what the rest of my life would be, various handicaps, lack of values, penalties for willful shirking, etc. Did he point blank say all these things to my face? Many of the things he said I’ve forgotten, whether by actual forgetfulness since or a defense mechanism at the time.  The fact is, though, just to personalize it from his vantage point, he wanted to be the wrestling coach, and since I plainly avoided wrestling class, there was something deeper wrong with me.

That my friend is a swamp! I couldn’t have the good (a wrestling deferment), my shining star, without the bad, a swamp to slog through for a semester, with the presence of an unhelpful snake, the guidance counselor, clamped on my heels and driving me slowly at first, then more quickly as the poison coursed through my veins toward a personal and academic death, possibly.

What would be my escape from this swamp, this satanic serpent coiled around me and squeezing out my life force? In the movies, a hero comes to rescue Nervous Nell from the train bearing down on her tied-up body. For me there was 1) Suffer with it, 2) Hope the guidance counselor dies. Which he never did in those days, but he’s died since. So righteousness, even delayed eventually shows up when it's too late to do any good.

The real answer would've been to tell my mother and she would've made his life hell on earth. That's what I should've done.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Please, Coach, Let's Make Love

Part 2 of 30 - Guidance Counselor series

I wish I knew how the ladies ever got the idea that wrestling coaches are hot. That’s been one of the socio-psychological questions of my life, along with the question of cottage cheese being edible. When I heard it about wrestling coaches, I said in disgust, “Ewww, yuck.” But I later learned to love cottage cheese.

For about a week in the ‘70s, I lived in a town with two high schools and one university. As part of a research project I had volunteers (minimum stipend) following wrestling coaches. Note: It’s hard to do, because so often they’re behind doors where their activities are unseen. It is at these times most often, we surmised, that they’re having illicit affairs. Hence, there’s nothing to be seen except the partner arriving or departing, with nothing conclusively proving that they were there for bed sport.

I got only minimal credit until I found and used information from a wrestling almanac, briefly in print but quickly confiscated, with two pages of enlightening statistics on wrestling coaches, their affairs, how far their mates were willing to go on the mats, etc. Unfortunately, late one night a gang of wrestling coaches broke in where I worked and stole the almanac and the research. That was before we had hard drives or I would’ve had 100 copies in 100 different email accounts, at the very least.

So what we’re left with is what I can remember and hearsay. Both of which I consider admissible. In short, the wrestling coach has to have a big libido. I hesitate to give the full rationale for that. Except it has something to do with men grappling men and a certain split (awareness/denial) in the average wrestling coach's mind over that of what they're really doing. Libido action is required for admitting and excluding.

Beyond being merely interesting in wrestling terms, the study touched generally on how narrowly the mind can focus and fully function with awareness while not excluding but not fully recognizing simultaneous denial. Good stuff. As for me, I was happy I had the seizures, because I immediately saw the whole scene in its stark all together without studies.

Why the guidance counselor ever wanted to be a wrestling coach, I don’t know. I’m driven to the idea that he was looking for action, but maybe not. I'm sure there are wrestling coaches in it truly for the wrestling, not because they like to see boys in jockstraps and loose shorts roll around to pin each other, while jockeying for better vantage points. I'd hate to get the wrestling industry on me by making false insinuations, so I know there's good guys, with some bad. And with the bad, varying levels of hanky panky going on. And I’m not saying on whose part. How's that, a padded room, a den of iniquity.

In general, I was never alone with the guidance counselor beyond ordinary school offices, hallway, gym, etc. Much to my relief, and I can’t speak for him, but he was generally in a bad mood and not looking for action from me. No matter what you may think of the guidance counselor, and perhaps it was my own sense of industry, I managed to survive that semester without losing my virginity to a coach, counselor, or non-student.

Monday, April 1, 2019

He Took The Guidance Counselor Job

Part 1 of 30 - Guidance Counselor series

Welcome, Trauma Fans. Glad you’re here, hope you stick around and see what it was that Once Upon a Time upset me terribly, and even still today makes my blood boil or at least get warm.

My traumas won’t be as bad as some of you have suffered, I’ll just put that up front. So I don’t want to hear you saying, “That’s all you got!? I suffered X, Y, Z, and even now he’s still in the bedroom with a machete!” In your case, please don’t take time to reminisce, but call the proper authorities and get help. My thing isn’t nearly that bad.

Even though it’s not as bad, in my opinion it’s still bad. Because my thought is that adults, especially in the educational field, and particularly in the guidance counseling field, ought to be respectful of the kids they serve, and do their work with only positive interactions toward them. Do I get fed up with kids and their pesky problems? Of course, but I don't have very many interactions with kids. And I’m not a teacher and definitely not a guidance counselor.

OK, here’s the situation, a long time ago... At some point, the guidance counselor had gone into the military. I’m going to say he was in Korea, the war that was going on there. Then he got out and got a college education, apparently involving an education degree, likely with a sports minor. At some point he ended up in my hometown, applying for the job of wrestling coach. I will offer some surmises about wrestling coaches, but not here. When our anti-hero missed out on the coaching job, he accepted instead the guidance counselor position.

Flash forward however many years it would be and I show up at school. Then at home, over a course of weeks, I have a series of seizures. Next, back at school, the boys of my class were required to take a semester of wrestling, in P.E. (Physical Education class.) My mother thought the stress might provoke more seizures in me, so I was excused, only to be placed for that hour weekly with the guidance counselor. Who seriously thought I should be wrestling instead of sitting with him. At this point some of the details of my interactions with him have been mercifully forgotten, but that’s roughly it. He didn’t act like he liked me and I didn’t like him. He made me feel terrible about being there.

OK, on my graphic today why do I have the guidance counselor looking so sad that the wrestling job is gone? Not only because he didn’t get the job, but because I contend that wrestling coaches are in it primarily for other benefits, involving female fans. Which would make my guidance counselor a discouraged lover boy missing out on the extra goodies. See his problem?

And maybe he should’ve been the coach. He hid his disgust of me when anyone else was around, so he was good at keeping secrets. Perhaps he could’ve just as easily hidden his secret life with the ladies as coach. If only he had the opportunity! It’s funny how that was denied him. One can only hope he got his satisfaction somewhere else over the years, and was caught at it. But I never heard anything more about him after graduation.

Except to Google him and see that sometime since me being a kid he died. But please don’t feel sorry for him for that cause. Because everyone eventually dies, the good like me someday, and the bad like him way back when. He was older and statistically that’s when it most often happens, when you’re old. But sometimes when you’re young and stupid. Or young and through no fault of your own, you name the cause.