Although I’m not that old, I’ve been through a lot in my life. No more than any other, and certainly no worse than most have had it, but some might find my exploits entertaining. In the other chapters of this book I talk about the correlation between past events and current situations, however ‘The Life and Times of a Jaded Loser’ will serve as a much more comprehensive look into my youth and will give you a better understanding of what makes me tick.
This idea came to me a few months ago when I finally made a Face book profile which gave me the opportunity to re-connect with old friends, make new friends, and even ignore ex-girlfriends, spiraling them further down the toilet bowl of hatred towards me. Some of those ‘old friends’ that I have ‘friended’ on Face book include classmates from a time in my life long in memory, but whose influences still haunt me to this day…military school.
Glenwood Military School for Boys. I attended Glenwood for five years, but because they were the developmental years of my young life, they’ve stuck with me like peanut butter on the roof of a dog’s mouth.
Now, first off; wipe that “what did you do? Press your dork up against a bus window so the judge sent you to military school?” look off your face. It wasn’t necessarily a school for ‘misbehaved’ children. I’m sure that every parent had good intentions for sending their kid there. It just so happened that my mother’s intentions were a bit more…selfish than most. But we’ll get into that later.
My friend Mike, who I haven’t seen in years, said some very nice things about Glenwood Military School on his Face book wall. I quote: “I look over these pictures of myself when I was younger in Glenwood and everything seems to fade away. I can do nothing but smile and remember the incredible times I’ve had at this school. I can’t explain the elation within myself. Thank You Glenwood”.
For years when someone would ask me about my childhood I’d either lie so I wouldn’t seem hateful, or I would subtly change the subject so as not to talk about it at all. Glenwood has always been a source of pain for me, and in my selfishness, it never occurred to me to think of the ‘good’ it might have done some boys.
So, after reading Mike’s blurb about Glenwood, I grabbed Mr. Peabody and jumped in the ‘way back’ machine to try to come up with some reasons of my own to gloat about my childhood in military school. Other than the few friends and acquaintances I made there, I couldn’t think of ONE fucking positive thing other than the fact that you can STILL bounce a quarter off my bed which I make every morning. Fuckin' corners all tight, bedspread folded back a palms width and no wrinkles in the pillow. Hell, a girl jumped on my bed once and almost shot herself into space like Wile E. Coyote. This bitch is wound like a trampoline.
Far be it for me to think of someone’s thoughts or feelings as ‘disingenuous’. I have no reason NOT to believe that Mike had a great childhood at Glenwood. I consider Mike to be something of a brother. Hell, we used to crash weddings in Florida WAY before that stupid ass movie came out. I’m sure that his time at Glenwood WAS productive in many ways. Some of us hit the ‘pick 6’ in life’s lottery, and some of us end up standing BEHIND the old ass lady who gives the checkout clerk at the gas station her lottery numbers like she’s reading off launch codes for a nuclear fucking submarine, when all you want to do is hand the girl behind the counter a ten spot for gas and move on with your life. Just when you think she’s done, you realize that she was only catching her breath and she again starts spitting out numbers like ‘Rain Man’ at a bingo parlor. Then she takes more time to pick out ‘instant’ tickets than “John the Stutterer’ from Howard Stern reading a James Michener novel out loud to an ADD class. By the time she IS finished, you’re 3 days late for work and now have a full fucking beard. Fuck you lottery lady.
Glenwood School for Boys is a 150 acre campus on 187th and Halsted near Harvey in Glenwood IL. At any one point around 150 children would be housed there in various facilities in age groups ranging from 2nd graders to seniors in high school. The living quarters, referred to as ‘cottages’ were spread out around the campus and each one would hold approximately 12 kids at any given time, with 3 kids to each dorm room within the cottage. We lived on the campus, and a majority of kids got picked up by their parents and taken home on the weekends. Campus was generally closed on holidays meaning that EVERY one went home then.
On the weekdays, we would wake up early in the morning, and every cottage would form ranks in two lines of 6 and march to ‘Butler Hall’, which was our dining area. After a brief time of being yelled at by whoever was our commanding officer at that moment, we’d file in for breakfast. The food was horrible at best and included such delicacies as: ‘cream beef on toast’ which to this day I don’t know what the fuck that was, ‘fish sticks’ which I imagine were made from fish caught in ‘Lake Biohazard’, and ‘Mashed potatoes that were more paste than potato. In the 6 years I was at Glenwood, the menu NEVER changed. I ate the same shit week after miserable week.
After breakfast, we’d head off to school. Formation was repeated for lunch time, and again at dinner time. We wore dress clothes every day, and on Wednesdays we would wear our military uniform, which consisted of a light blazer with the school emblem embroidered on it.
In the months that proceeded my being shipped off to Glenwood, my mother would tell me that the reason I was going there was because she worked ‘midnights’ as a guard at Cook County Jail. I found out later in life that the actual reasons ran a bit deeper, but all I knew at the time was that she was a single mother, a cop, and a hopeless alcoholic. Between working full time as a police officer, and spending her nights drunker than Hemmingway at an Oktoberfest, I just didn’t fit into her lifestyle. So off to military school I went.
The very first night I spent at Glenwood I was accused of doing something that I didn’t do. I’m sure you can all relate, you’re ten years old and sitting on the couch one evening enjoying a bomb pop and watching ‘ The Secret of NIMH’ for the 47th time, when your dad busts in the room, and starts yelling at you because there’s money missing from his wallet or some other domestic bitch that parents are fond of throwing in your face. Later he realizes that it was actually your MOM who took the money to get the dog a new set of ‘neuticals’ because she felt bad that your pet Schnauzer ‘Spanky’ had nothing to lick anymore after being fixed. You scream back, or you get frightened and cry, hell you’re a kid…how the hell do you know how to come up with a reasonable defense to this kind of accusation? Same thing.
My mother dropped me off haphazardly, ignoring my cries of ‘please don’t mommy!’ early in the day. I had been set up in a cottage and two boys were assigned to show me around the campus. It was dead of winter and I can remember freezing my little kid balls off walking around in the snow looking at buildings older than religion. Later in the evening, after showing me the gym, where we watched the high schoolers play basketball for a bit, we headed back to the cottage. It was around eight o’clock and the campus had a silvery glow about it from a full moon reflecting off the snow. My crying earlier in the day had dissipated and I now found myself full of hope for what was to come.
I’d just made new friends in the way that only kids can be friends. Innocence, light hearted joking around, and a feeling of utter invincibility. You don’t think about being old like you do now. We spend all of our time as adults wondering what’s going to happen to us when we get older: Where am I going to be in 10 years? What’s my plan for college? Marriage? Kids? What underwear should I wear when I go get my first prostate exam at 40? Why does she have freckles on her ass?
When you’re a kid, all you have to think about is how much fun you’re going to have tomorrow. The world is just one big set of tits waiting to be bromskied. Well all those romantic fantasies of childhood wonder died on that night for me and set me down the path of rebelling against authority and learning to bullshit better than Kurt Russell in ‘ Used Cars’. Which is good, because I work in sales now.
We had gotten a few yards away from the gym on our way to the cottage, when seemingly from out of nowhere, a crazy black man ran up to us and started accusing us of throwing snow balls at his car on Halsted. He was waving his arms around, stomping, and spitting as he talked. I was so scared, I thought his face was going to split in two and reveal a fiery skull. As children, we had no recourse but to proclaim our innocence and politely start throwing snowballs at him to get him the fuck away from us. After 10 minutes of enduring this stupidity he stomped off and left us to walk home. Our innocence afforded us the luxury of laughing off our crazy accuser.
When we got back to the cottage, our supervisor or ‘house parent’ was waiting for us. Think of Barbara Bush only older and uglier…and a guy. THAT was our house parent. She told us that we were wanted at the dean’s office right away.
The dean’s office was a bear cave dug into the side of this enormous brick building that sat at the front of the school’s campus, called ‘The Administration Building’. A dean was stationed in this den 24/7 to deal with just the type of situation I was about to find myself in.
As so ordered, so did we do. We walked to the dean’s office without a care in the world; we would tell him “we didn’t do it” and be on with our night. Again…the mistakes of youth.
When we arrived at the dean’s office, we were greeted by a short thin black man who looked like a cross between Erkle and Prince (It was the 80’s mind you). He immediately began yelling and accusing us without asking any questions. In this fashion, he was much like our original accuser, only I would find out…THIS guy could touch us. He kept screaming for us to admit what we had done. I’m sure we cried. We were scared shitless, it didn’t seem to matter WHAT we told him, he simply would not listen to the reason of a ten year old.
Now that I’m older and understand authority a little better, I realize that he didn’t really care if we did it or not. We were going to get the blame because someone complained about kids on HIS watch, and blaming us was easier than going out to find who ACTUALLY did it. Not knowing that at the time we kept claiming our innocence.
Then he started with the ‘Spanish Inquisition’ techniques. He told us, with a sneer on his face that would seem comical to me today, that he would interview us one at a time while the other two sat in the foyer outside of his office. The first boy went in and us other two were left in foyer. We could hear the beating being delivered on the other side of that door and it still haunts me to this day. Every loud ‘THUD’ of a hand hitting that kid was followed by the sound of a frightened and confused child wailing into the dead, empty, fake wood, panel board and flickering overhead ‘ Joe vs. The Volcano’ neon lights.
The two of us in the hallway, clutching our green pleather bound chairs with tiny white hands, looked at each other with both fear and understanding. We knew what we had to do lest we suffer that humiliating fate, and we’d have to do it in order to STOP it from happening to our friend any longer. In a slow steady motion, we hesitantly stood up in unison; we cautiously walked to the door and pushed it open. Our eyes were saucer wide and filled with tears. We didn’t know it at the time, but what we were about to do was compromise a basic principle of life: innocent until proven guilty. We walked in and told the dean what he wanted to hear. The consequences don’t much matter now, I can hardly remember them. I think we got a week of ‘restriction’ which meant that we had to shovel snow, clean bathrooms, and do generally menial labor.
After that night I developed a philosophy that “If I’m going to get blamed for something I didn’t do, I may as well do it”, from then on I got myself into trouble at every opportunity. I was constantly on restriction. This is a philosophy that sadly has followed me into adult life. I think that understanding its origins helps me to make better decisions. But to be honest with you? Self discovery can be a mother fucker.
Well folks…THAT was just the first fucking day. Through the years I suffered daily beatings from high school kids because I was such a fat, clumsy, retard. I weighed as much in fifth grade, as I do right now. I looked like the fat kid from ‘Bad Santa’. I was constantly ridiculed because my mom would either forget or refuse to pick me up on weekends when all the other kids got to leave. There were holidays when I was the ONLY kid on that campus because everyone but me was taken home by loving family members.
Another source of ridicule came from the fact that my mother would never give me new clothes or shoes, so I was always wearing second hand shit from the ‘clothing room’ which was where old clothes and shoes were housed. That place smelled like linen and piss and I still remember the humiliating shame I felt whenever I had to go in there. I don’t think I had a pair of shoes that fit me properly for 2 years, which is probably why I ALWAYS buy shoes that are at least 1 size too big on me now.
But the clothing room was nothing compared to the humiliation one felt if they pissed the bed. One of the worst things a kid could do in Glenwood…was to be a bed wetter. Being a bed wetter in our cottages made you more of a target and an outcast than a pedophile in prison. These poor bastards would face nightly ‘blanket parties’ like Private Pyle in ‘ Full Metal Jacket’. Luckily, pissing the bed was ONE thing that I did NOT do. However…I DID have a different take on the ‘uncontrollable pissing’ genre.
During that first winter at Glenwood, about three or four nights of the week, I would wake up in the morning with my feet soaking wet. Much like YOU’RE thinking now, I assumed someone was pissing on my feet as I slept. I’d seen the ‘blanket parties’, and the ‘dipping someone’s hand in warm water’ bit a million times, but I’d never yet heard of pissing ON someone. I assumed that it was the kid in the bed next to me because he was one of the bullies that picked on me from the moment I woke up to the time we went to bed at night. He would laugh uncontrollably at my wet feet in the morning and feign ignorance as to how it could have happened. After a few instances of this occurrence, I went to my house parent, Mr. Pros and told him that this kid was pissing on me while I slept. Mr. Pros didn’t even look away from the TV as I tattled on this shitheal and his indifference made me feel alone and isolated. I started to fear that these mother fuckers could get away with ANY thing if ‘pissing on someone while they slept’ didn’t herald an immediate response from those in charge.
Several weeks after I had first brought this phenomenon to Mr. Pros attention, I found myself being shaken awake from a deep sleep. It was Mr. Pros. He was yelling at me, and in my state of awakening confusion, I realized that I was standing up. When I gathered enough of my wits to see my surroundings, I realized that I was standing in front of the water fountain at the entrance to our cottage…and I was pissing on it.
This was the FIRST time that I had done it indoors, so he HAD to stop me. The next night, I came up with a plan to stop myself from doing it ever again. I tied a piece of twine around my wrist and to the bedpost in the hopes this would wake me up if I were to leave the bed. That night, I DID wake up as I tried to sleep walk and piss on something…the only problem was that I had tied the twine in a sailor’s knot and couldn’t get it off of me. I had to piss so bad that I thought my eyes were going to pop out with geysers of urine, and I KNEW that I couldn’t piss on my bed or I’d get beaten worse than Clubber Lange in Rocky III. So I did the only thing I COULD do…I aimed my dick at the bully in the bed next to me while he slept…and pissed all over him.