Career Choices

Sophomore year of high school was a beast.  That was the year– my mother later said–that “they,” meaning her, had thought of sending me to a counselor because I had stopped talking.  That was the year too that I attacked Richards in the papers for my English class.  And towards the end of the basketball season, the coach came up and asked me if I wanted to quit the team.  Of course I didn’t; what the hell had made him think that I did?  Had I been screwing up or not trying?  I almost started bawling at the touch of personal attention he showed.  That was the year too I sat around thinking about killing my parents all the time.  I thought a lot about running away also as a less violent way to alter my situation.

I saw this vicious killer on TV who said his slide down hill started when he ran away from home.  You know, he said, I got a couple of miles from home and it started raining like hell and I hadn’t brought a jacket.  Man I was soaked.  And then a bit further down the road I got hungry but I’d only brought a quarter or something, so I went to this gas station and hit the attendant over the head with a brick and cleaned out the cash register.  And that was how he started his downhill slide to death row.

This killer simply didn’t know how to look before he leaped; or maybe he lacked impulse control.  My problem was that if I were to run away, I would be sure to check the weather forecast in the paper before I did so.  I was just too rational for my own good.  I had no money; I had no skills; and I was too thin to be any good at manual labor.  All and all, neither running away nor killing my parents seemed like a really good career choice.

I was glad I had done pretty well in school; I liked the attention and I even liked some of the stuff I was learning.  And if I didn’t do well my parents would be down my throat.  By sophomore year I began to realize there was such a thing as college and I more or less decided I would run away from home by making sure I went to college. Getting good grades was easy, but I had to make sure I didn’t rile my teachers.  So there in my sophomore year of high school, with no knowledge of the world and in many ways emotionally stunted, I decided what to do with the rest of my life.  I was going to college, get a degree, and make what they used to call a “decent living.”

Sophomore year was also the year I realized that they weren’t kidding about death.  I was walking home from school and was flooded with the realization of my morality.  It was a kind of mystical experience, not a rational realization; but one in depth.  The fuck of it was I felt almost, if not happy, at least free.  There had always been a way out right under their nose; I sort of put it into words at that time by thinking there was a part of me so small that they just couldn’t get to it.

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