You’re an idiot and I’m sick of your storytime bull $@%+, you don’t know half as much about life as you think you do… And it pisses me off when you go off giving advice to people.
You’re too young, why don’t you just shut up until you’ve lived a little?
I AM UNFRIENDING YOU
Thank you for your words. I sincerely mean that. Even though they weren’t exactly the prettiest sentences I’ve ever read, I’m grateful for them. Sort of.
Because when I started writing this column—if that’s what you’d call it—I wanted to meet new people like you. Writing is decidedly more fun than, say, taking knitting classes, or playing rummy with the Junior League.
Anyway, I’d like to go back to seventh grade for a moment. The year my father swallowed the barrel of a hunting rifle. I lost a lot of good things that year.
I grew up rural. I did not attend high school. I worked.
My first job was at age fourteen, hanging drywall.
My peers attended proms and picked out colleges; I smiled and congratulated them from the sidelines.
The word “outsider” comes to mind.
I visited the library a lot. Once per week, Miss Terri, a short white-haired lady, hand-picked stacks of books for me.
She chose subjects like: chemistry, botany, ornithology, American history, agriculture, wood joinery, classic literature, and Western novels.
I read until my eyes went blurry.
When I hit my mid-twenties, I met an older man on a construction jobsite who had his masters degree. He was swinging a hammer just like me.
I clocked off work early and rode to the local community college. I walked inside and told the lady I wanted to go to school.
She said, “Where’s your high-school diploma?”
“Don’t have one,” said I.
“How about a GED?”
She told me about a college-entrance exam for those who’d been schooled at home. “It’s a tough test,” she insisted. “You’d better study for it.”
“I’ll take the test now, please,” said I.
She led me into a room and seated me at a desk. After three hours, I gave the test back. She fed it into a machine. I almost vomited.
She smiled and said, “Congratulations. We need a signed affidavit, stating you were home-schooled in the state of Florida.”
I enrolled in the summer semester. I took my first English class in a double-wide trailer. And for several years, I pieced an education together, working during the days.
When I passed my last final, I hugged my wife in the parking lot and I cried.
I have never written the story I just recounted because it still humiliates me to even talk about it.
So why am I telling you this? Well, not to be melodramatic, but I have gone a lifetime feeling as though I were beneath people. I have felt ridiculous. And I have felt stupid.
Whether I am doesn’t even matter. Because I am a person, sir. A human. The same as you. Am I a fool? Maybe. But an idiot?
No sir. Not anymore.
Thanks for the letter.