Your writing sucks. What makes you think you’re so freaking special? LOL.
I DON’T LIKE SEAN OF THE SOUTH
DEAR I DON’T LIKE:
It was evening. The ceremony was in the gymnasium. The room was filling up. My wife squeezed my hand. “Are you nervous?” she asked.
I wasn’t. I was more ready than nervous.
My father killed himself when I was twelve. My mother wasn’t the same after it happened. She spent her days grieving in a bedroom. I did not attend high school.
My first construction job was as a teenager. I hung drywall. Drywall is the Devil’s work.
I don’t know how it happened. But over time, I came to believe I was unintelligent. After all, smart folks drive nice cars, go to college, and tell Charles to saddle their horse.
Educational failures like me sanded drywall seams.
Embarrassment was my roommate. I did a lot of reading during those years. I read so much I developed headaches.
I did this because I missed out on things like prom, football, and other various benchmarks. Books helped me feel less stupid.
The librarians knew me by name. I read Westerns, adventure novels, “The Unabridged Encyclopaedia on Cheesemaking,” “Innocents Abroad,” and the autobiography of Andy Griffith.
I admire writers. Always have. Especially those who write.
Anyway, getting into a community college was no small feat for someone like me. The truth is, I barely made it.
I took classes when I could afford them. I attended night school after work. I ate suppers in my truck, going over homework under a dome-light.
I wish I could tell you I was a fantastic student. I wasn’t. It took me nearly a decade to finish.
But there was a professor. She was older. She liked the first college essay I ever wrote. My opening line was: “Sometimes, I feel unsmart.”
She said it made her cry. She asked me to read it aloud before the classroom. I was too nervous.
So she took me aside. “You gotta believe in yourself,” she said. “You’re a pretty special student.”
So. There I am in this gymnasium full of people. My wife wears her Sunday best. When they call my name, I walk onto a platform and accept a piece of paper bearing my name.
It was special.
In the hallway, I loosened my tie and cried. I was still me. The same fatherless flunky I’d always been. The same fella who hung drywall, laid tile, and drove a commercial mower.
That professor found me. “You did it!” she said. “How do you feel?”
To tell you the truth, I felt ridiculous. The word “humbling” came to mind.
“Why?” she said. “You should feel proud, honey.” Then, she hugged me.
Anyway, you probably don’t care about what some elderly lady called someone like me.
But maybe you’ll care about this. That same gentle woman once told me that every essay needs a good closing line, so here’s my attempt at one:
I hope you feel special today, sir.
Because such things will change your damn life.