Remember the compliments you receive, forget the insults; if you succeed in doing this, tell me how. -Everybody’s Free
Do you have like a day of utter triumph that you remember from your school days?
I have two.
The first was from an eighth grade softball game where I caught the inning ending pop fly in deep left. I was new to the school and not at all athletic or friendly. I know the ball was popped out to deep left cause that was the position I played. Deep left field.
Basically, I stood out there daydreaming about other stuff because nothing much ever happened out in deep left field…but that day…a Wednesday, ( I know this because I subsequently named my glove Wednesday) I actually caught a ball and ended an inning. We then scored like 17 runs in the next inning, but it started to rain and the game was called. The official score reverted back to what it was at the end of the sixth and we lost by one run. But at the end of the sixth, for a brief shining moment I had been a hero.
The other moment of sheer “I’m king of the world” ness was my sophomore year of high school. My school had an annual speech contest. You delivered a speech in front of the whole school — teachers and 700 students- a three judge panel decided who was first and second and then prizes were awarded. In freshman year I delivered Marc Antony’s monologue from Julius Caesar. Johnny (who had been a TV actor) performed some Puck monologue from Midsummer’s night’s dream and Arlene read that “Oh Captain, my captain poem”.
Arlene wore a neck brace.
So, she literally stood there immobile and read the lines in a monotonous string. Celebrity vs. sympathy vs. me.
I came in third.
The next year I decided to I write my own speech, complete with props and heart wrenching anecdotes.
I would make them CRY, dammit.
And I would win. I did a five minute speech in favor of the death penalty, at the end of which, the entire student body was on its feet. Standing ovation. Utter triumph. Not only did I win, for days nay weeks afterwards, people would quote lines of that speech back to me.
Ah, I get goosebumbs even now to remember it.
However, somewhere around 7th period, my math teacher -who HATED me- for no reason. And you guys know how I love to retell all the bad things I’ve done to people, but I promise, with her, I did nothing! So it’s 7th period, I’ve arrived at her class early, as I did to all my classes after that speech, so my teachers could shower me with praise and adoration while I gave variations of my “what that? Oh, did you like it? I just put it together last night…I wasn’t sure it it was any good. Thanks” response.
Cause, you know, I’m humble.
Anyway, I’m sitting there, people are shouting congratulations and praise to me from the hallway and in walks Ms. Donovan. She puts her teacher’s edition text and cup of coffee down on the desk, proceeds to erase whatever stuff was left over on the blackboard from the last class and sits down. She looks up at me.
I am beaming from ear to somebody else’s ear.
Then she says “you really think you’re something, don’t you?”
I remember thinking to myself “well this congratulatory speech is starting off different from the others, but…”
She continues “just remember, missy. The higher the horse, the harder the fall.”
And then she took another swig of coffee.
I said “thanks” and pulled out my textbook to begin my 47 minutes of not understanding anything.
Later that afternoon I went downstairs to (what I would have called my fortress of solitude, if I’d known that reference then) — Dr. T’s classroom. Dr. T was head of the English department and was the kindest, yet most sarcastically funny person, I have ever met. He always called me by my last name because he wife’s name was Summer, so we were the “two Summers in [his] life.” I was sitting glumly in my armchair of solitude kicking the air with my feet — as was my way of communicating at the time.
“What’s wrong gold medal winner,” he asked.
I told him what the the evil woman said.
“Eh, who cares about her? She’s a *math* teacher, no creative appreciation in a single bone in her body.”
“You’re like me, Summers, a hundred people could tell you the most wonderful incredible things about yourself, but it’s the unkind words we hold onto. I’d like to say you’ll grow out of it…”
And then he told me on of the seemingly endless supply of embarassing stories from his own teenaged days at my hight school.
“So, if you forget what Ms. Donovan said, I will forget about what Billy Nunzio did…deal?”
“But you just told me that whole story, you can’t just forget it.”
“Ah…so I guess that’s that then…we just have to live with it?”
“I hate her.”
“Okay, you want me to hate her too?”
“Okay. Done. Feel better?”
He laughed and then put on some old timey jazz record for me to listen to. He was always trying to get me to appreciate old timey jazz with pictures of black guys with puffed out cheeks on the cover.
It didn’t take.
I’ve been thinking about that story a great deal lately. I confess, I am still very much that petulant teen.
And the increasingly nasty/critical comments I’ve been getting over the last few months, either making fun of me because I don’t have a job, or judging how often I go to Vegas, or about how fat I am or how I can’t spell and don’t know grammar, has just gotten to me. Or more accurately, gotten me spending way too much time thinking about bad bad things to do and say to these people and I just don’t have that kind of time anymore.
My instinct is always to fire back with equally nasty belittling comments of my own or justify myself. Thankfully, I am mature enough to know not to get into a battle of wits with unarmed men and women.
But I’m tired of the shots; and since I know I won’t fire back, I am getting off the field.
People have a right to say what they wish. I have a comment section for that very purpose and so long as I put myself out in this public light, I get what I get. And again, most of what I get is awesome and great, and I’ve appreciated it (sometimes more than you’ll ever know.)
But the experience of having someone be able to pretend to be me so convincingly that people who have known me for two decades, were fooled, was not a pleasant one; plus the bullshit judgment of strangers I could care less about, bah…enough is enough.
Honest to goodness this really isn’t me. I’m not a sharer or a talker. I find a quiet little spot at the back of the room and silently slip into a chair and keep my head down.
I know my six plus years of tome-like posts sharing my insights and memories may have led you to believe, otherwise. But at heart I’m an introvert and while I think a million and one things a mile a minute, they really aren’t for public consumption. I used to say that Karol brought the crazy into my life. True story: I lived in obscurity and solitude in East Coco Beach for a good 17 years until Karol comes for a visit one day and she’s all “Hi, I’m Karol. I’m all friendly and bubbly! This is my friend Dawn. She lives here and I’m here to visit her, what’s your name?” Not two weeks later, I’m walking home and Karol’s new “friends” in my neighborhood drench me with the fire hydrant stream.”
Alas, it’s now Dawn Summers bringing the crazy. Though…if I really think about it…Dawn Summers is Karol’s fault too. I hate her sooo much. Karol. Not Dawn.
Anyway, that it’s also the beginning of my people’s holy season of introspection and deprivation, I’ve decided to take Lent off from blogging and twittering and facebooking and returning to my life as private citizen.
If I return in the Spring, this will mostly be where I make fun of politicians and celebrities…you know, the people who get paid to receive derision from strangers they could care less about.
See ya, bye!
Dawn J. Summers