I have been thinking about school lately. Grade school and high school. Fond memories of the old alma mater you ask? Not exactly. I have a friend named Mark, whom I have known since middle school, who congratulated me on Facebook for the publishing of my new book. We paled around for a couple of years in school (also with another friend named Mark who sadly, is no longer with us) and had a lot of fun but went our separate ways. It was fun to connect up with him online. I told him it was great to still have a friend since high school. And that’s what got me thinking. So this is a treatise on high school from my viewpoint.
Just to set the record straight, I hated school. Hate is a strong word I know, but true none the less. And here’s why: I was bad at math and bad at sports. Being bad at sports is the easy part to figure out. I was skinny and scrawny and wore glasses. I was always afraid of breaking my glasses so I hated “ball throwing” sports. My parents didn’t have a lot of money and glasses were expensive. Being skinny and scrawny meant I got crushed a lot playing football and was totally ineffective at blocking. But I could run, so I liked the races and relays. I was nearly always the last one picked for the team. For those of you who were good at sports, being picked last was a lousy feeling.
It’s taken me a long time to understand why I’m bad at math but I think I’ve come up with the answer. Dyscalculia. It is akin to Dyslexia except it involves numbers. Often when I copy numbers I transpose them. I do a lot of computer work at my job which involves typing numbers and I have to be very careful not to mix them up. I’m confused by math problems. Doing simple addition, subtraction etc. befuddles me. I can’t play card games where you have to count cards or add scores. It’s embarrassing but it’s a real problem. I’ve probably had this all my life but never knew about it.
So, with these two things stacked against me, school was tough. I didn’t feel like I belonged there. I didn’t join clubs or groups or do after school activities like sports. The bell rang and I got the hell out of there. Probably the only thing that saved me from going insane was music. I was given a transistor radio when I was just a kid. If you’re in your 50’s then you remember the little radios with the telescoping antenna and the single ear bud. It played mono sound and AM only. I LOVED that radio. I found that late at night you could hear stations from all over the country on AM radio. (Amplitude Modulation for the non radioites out there.) So I fell in love with Rock N Roll music. Somehow I got hold of a pair of drum sticks and started beating on everything in the house and soon after, the single most defining moment of my young life took place. My grandfather bought me a set of drums. Thank you grandpa, I will forever be grateful.
Playing drums kept me sane while driving everyone else crazy. This was something I could do well! And beside that, almost no one else in school could do it. Physical stamina came from continued practice and you didn’t have to do math. I could play Rock N Roll and didn’t need to learn to read music. Halleluiah I was saved! I practiced everyday for two years and then joined a rock band. The really cool thing about playing in a band was that my band was from a different town. So when we played in my town no one knew the other guys and they thought we were rock stars! My wife remembers singing in her first serious band and having middle school kids asking for her autograph. It was an amazing feeling to be sixteen and having a gym full of kids applauding you.
The best day of my high school career was graduation day. I was finally done. I could walk out that door and never look back. Funny how things change. I ended up going to college and became a Medical Laboratory Technician. And it’s interesting how things that happened to you in grade school can affect you. You think you just want to forget about it but you don’t. You carry some of that shit with you your whole life. I have graduated from drum sets and rock bands to playing hand percussion. I play a lot of ethnic drums from Africa, The Middle East, Ireland and Cuba. The point is that music is still with me and if I can, I will carry that to the grave. Unfortunately I still carry some of the bad stuff too but my therapist is my music and writing and neither costs much money. It also helps to have friends like Mark to remind you of the good times. Thanks Mark.