7: Glenwood Education
The one thing I enjoyed about Glenwood was going to school. That building was old and creepy, but I learned a lot there. Whenever I was on restriction, I didn’t mind it so much as long as I was made to work after hours in the school. The only part that I wasn’t very happy about visiting was the basement.
The basement of the school was dark and damp. When you went down the stairs, it almost seemed like you were entering a different world. At the bottom there was a long hallway with a bathroom on the left, an empty room with a barber chair on the right, and an abandoned music room at the end. Every kid in Glenwood had to have his hair cut once a month, and that barber chair was like a nightmare. The barber was an old Polish guy who didn’t speak any English. He wore the traditional white barber frock, and you could see his yellowed teeth in the light cast down from the one overhead lamp which hung from the ceiling on a chain above the big green chair. You couldn’t see any part of that room other than where the low hanging light cast its ominous glow, and I always imagined big hairy spiders waiting in the corners just outside of its reach, ready to move in and consume me if that light should go out. As creepy as it was, I thought that it was the only thing keeping them at bay. The barber would cut everyone’s hair the same way, by placing a plastic Tupperware bowl on our heads and cutting around it. As he did this, he would talk to us angrily in Polish as if he were cursing someone who had robbed him.
Other than the basement though, I quite enjoyed my classes. Every day in history class I could imagine being out of Glenwood and on the battle field of some Civil War conflict, becoming a hero of the Northern Army. My teacher was a Civil War buff and even did reenacting on the weekends. He would always bring in antiques and show them to the class, and holding those old swords and trying on those old jackets always seemed to transport me to another place.
There was nothing special about my Math class, but I loved going there because my teacher, who looked like Carl Weathers, hated little Mikey from my Rathje cottage as much as I did. I think that he knew that Mikey enjoyed special privileges, sometimes at the expense of others, so he took the opportunity to belittle that fucker since we could not. One time, when the teacher was talking about evolution and how the places that societies come from dictate the color of their skin, Mikey raised his hand with a question. He asked Carl Weathers; “So, if Michael Jackson walked from Africa to Russia, would he turn white?” Everyone in the class just looked at Mikey with a dumbfounded expression on their faces. Without missing a beat, the teacher whipped an eraser at Mikey, which beaned him in the head, knocked him off of his chair, and left a Mohawk eraser mark on his head. That may have been the funniest thing I ever saw at Glenwood.
I also loved my typing class, and even though I wasn’t so sure about the computers that replaced our typewriters, I got used to them pretty quickly. I got up to 70 words per minute with few to no errors, and my teacher would let me use the computer after school sometimes to write stories for my writing class.
But my favorite class had to be Art. I was the best student in my art class and it was the one thing I could do that would earn me praise from both my teacher and other students. In that class, I learned that I have that special ability to draw whatever I see in my mind, and mimic real life in pencil. After it became apparent that I was good at it, I started getting special requests to draw comic book heroes, naked chicks from playboys, and fantasy pictures. Those talents made me want to draw comic books for a long time, until I met some actual comic book artists who set me straight.
Our teachers were not military people, so they were more understanding, and in a lot of ways more human. They were adults that I could relate too, and because of that I rarely got into trouble while I was in school. The ONE time I did get busted, was when a dean heard me call another kid a bastard after he had punched me in the eye. He asked me if I knew what that word meant, and when I told him that I didn’t he made me look it up. He wanted me to write out the definition 50 times, but it was too short. So instead he made me write out The Raven by Poe…50 fucking times. I don’t know if you know this? But that’s a long fucking poem, and I can still recite every line of it to this day because of that.
8: Full Metal Ass Beatings
Although the military side of Glenwood was a pain in the ass, like most things that suck in life…I got used to it. However, as is usually the case, those in charge fucked up the small bit of enjoyment I got from that.
I came to like the repetitive nature of our everyday military drills which consisted of formations, marching, saluting, presentation, and standing at attention. However, it felt as though the officers and NCO’s were treating us like medical experiments in a concentration camp, just to appease their own sense of humor. It seemed like they were constantly testing the limits of what we would be willing to put up, and how much shit THEY could get away with. Keep in mind; these were NOT professional military drill sergeants. These were high school boys who LIVED to force shit down the throats of kids that were smaller than them.
One of their tortures was to make us stand at attention in two rows of six and face each other. Then our officer would walk through the ranks, randomly punching us in the stomach. Sometimes he’d throw a fake punch, and if you flinched? You got punched for flinching.
In the winter time, they would line us up in front of the double barred railing that stood outside of the mess hall. Then they would make us take our gloves off, and get down into push up position with our hands in the snow. NEXT? We would have to put our feet up on the SECOND bar, which was about waist high when we were standing, and do pushups. And if you couldn’t do 5? You’d get a kick in the ribs with those hard ass patent leather military boots.
And my PERSONAL favorite? I would be made to stand with my arms stretched out in front of me, and everyone in the platoon had to place their coats on them. Try this. Try this with ONE fucking coat and see how long you can do it. When I could no longer endure the pain in my shoulders and the coats would fall? Everyone in the platoon got to beat the shit out me for dropping their coat on the ground.
The few times that I stood up to this military bullying, left me in serious pain.
Whenever it rained out, we formed ranks in the basement of our mess hall instead of outside of it. One morning, the high school NCO of our platoon decided that it would be fun to pick on me in front of the other platoons. He told me that because my shoes were wet, I would have to do 20 push ups. Everyone’s shoes were fucking wet…it was raining outside. I did the push ups, and when I stood up he told me that I would have to hold everyone’s coats on my arms because I was out of breath. I knew that this meant an ass beating later in the day, so I refused. I didn’t say anything, but I wouldn’t raise my arms. Our NCO towered over me and screamed in my face to comply. Finally, frustrated and emberassed from being humiliated in front of the whole school, he grabbed my head and slammed it into the concrte wall. I had to be carried to the nurses office with a concussion.
Every year we would have an olymipic event where our cottages were made to compete against one another in various challenges. Our NCO’s were the team captains, and the only sport that I looked forward to was swimming. Each cottage lined up, and one by one we would have to swim the length of the pool. In my cottage, I made the best time. After the event was over, and we lost, my NCO scolded me for not having done better. I asked him why he didn’t yell at the other boys since I made the best time, and he told me to do push ups for talking back to him. My arms were on fire still from swimming, so I got down in the position next to the pool, and did five push ups before falling to my knees. The NCO kicked me in the ribs and I fell into the pool. When I tried climbing out to the echoing laugher of the pool house, he pushed my head back under the water. I scraped and clawed at the pools edge, fighting for air and I could see his smiling face through the water above me. I gasped for air and painfully filled my lungs with water. When I awoke, I was coughing furiously after having been given CPR by the gym teacher. That was the closest I’ve ever come to death in my life, and although I still like to swim, I don’t like to do it when other people are around.
In the summer time, the end of the school year was marked by ‘Flag Day’. June 14th. All the parents got to come out and we would put on a show of marching, doing drills, and some of us even got to twirl fake rifles around like fucking batons. I’d eagerly look out into the crowd from my platoon as we passed by the stands, scanning the crowd for a mother that wasn’t there.
But the thing I remember most of Flag Day was the got damned uniforms. These 40 pound wool death coats were the equivalent of wearing a fucking fur coat on the sun. 103 degrees outside, and we were bundled up in these things like we were about to go on a climbing expedition of Mt. Everest. They had tents set up to put the kids in who passed out from heat exhaustion.
Any given school year at Glenwood was a nightmare come true for me. My time was spent homesick, despondent, irritated, self loathing, and just plain sad. The only communication I could have to the outside world was through a pay phone in the foyer of the dean’s office. Every day after school I would call my mother and leave pleading messages on her answering machine, begging her to take me home. I would promise everything from complete and utter obedience, to cleaning her house from top to bottom daily. I never got a response.
9: Camp Glenwood
Then there was Camp Glenwood in the summertime. Camp Glenwood was in Wisconsin on a lake. For the life of me, I can’t remember the name of the lake or where it was located. If military school was a nightmare, camp Glenwood was where nightmare’s go to die. Since I wasn’t needed at home during the summers, I was bussed off to a wilderness hell not unlike the camp in Friday the 13th (the original), but without the girls.
Instead of cottages, we had cabins at Camp Glenwood. There was a lake, and depending on which side of the campus you were on, there were 2 bathrooms. The bathrooms were ‘open air’. They consisted of a roof held up by two by fours, hard plastic all around the middle, and chicken wire fences along the bottom. The bathrooms were set back in the tree line, I assume to keep the smell away from the main campus. The bears didn’t seem to mind the smell at all.
During the day, the COOL kids got to hang out with the hippie ‘counselors’ and smoke pot, then they’d all come back to the cabin and make my life fucking miserable. One time, I was so desperate and stupid to BE one of the cool kids; I took them up on a dare.
Tom Padgett told me that if I ran from the cabin TO the bathrooms naked, and back again, they’d let me hang out with them. It was two in the morning, there was a frigid chill in the air that comes with nighttime by a lake, and I did it. I stripped and ran out of the cabin like a fat little greased pig. I got to the bathroom, which was about 500 feet from the cabin, and my feet were killing me because I was barefoot and the cold dirt path was riddled with stones. When I got back to the cabin, winded from the run, and my feet bleeding from the path, I was filled with joyful pride because my days as the ‘outcast’ were finally over. There was a triumphant smile on my fat little red face, despite the pain I was in…
And they’d locked the fuckin’ door.
Hails of derisive laughter could be heard coming from inside as I pounded on the door and plead for mercy. My glee of what was supposed to be ‘acceptance’ turned to stark horror as I saw female counselors coming out of other cabins to see what the commotion was. This may be why to this day; I don’t believe much of anything people say to me. ALSO, ladies…I fuck with my shirt on. Deal with it.
Then there were the bears sniffing around your ankles while you were trying to move a morning deuce, the leeches so big they could suck out your soul, and making caramel from scratch over a camp fire while surrounded by the most hateful, bile-filled, horrible shits since ‘Children of the Corn’. I STILL have scars from having hot fucking caramel whipped at me.
My favorite CAMP nightmare though? It has to be when I got stung by a bee and had to spend the night in the infirmary because I’m allergic to them. I blew up to TWICE my normal size, which was probably like 8 times the NORMAL kids size, and the ‘cool’ kids started a rumor that I spent the night blowing the Lou Ferrigno-esque male nurse. That one stuck with me for probably two years.
Camp Glenwood was NO ‘Meatballs’, but I did enjoy it more than the regular school year. It seemed, as fat as I was, I had a natural affinity for swimming, and did so every chance I got. One counselor would take us to the quarries or the garbage dump outside of the campus, where we could see hundreds of bears foraging around the refuse. That was kind of cool. Also, if we caught Crawfish in the lake, the cooks would boil them up for us. I learned about the outdoors, and camping, and how to build a fire, so it wasn’t all bad.
10: The Myslinskis
Aaron was my age, and was the first of the Myslinskis that I met because we shared classes together in Glenwood. His brother Mike was a few years ahead of us, and eventually became the NCO of my platoon. Aaron’s other brother, Frank, was in high school, so I never had too much interaction with him on campus.
As Aaron and I became close friends, we realized that his mother’s house was very near to MY mother’s condo, so after having met me, his mother would take me home on the weekends with them because my mother wouldn’t. Those weekends were the only thing that kept me going throughout the week when I was on campus. I looked forward to playing ‘Tyson’s Punch Out’ in Aaron’s basement while Frank talked about going into the military after high school, and Mike bragged about whatever chick he was banging at the time.
I got drunk for the first time the night they moved away. I couldn’t have been more than 16 and I stayed with them all the way through the night leading up to their departure for Florida the next morning. I even passed out in the U-Haul truck they were using, hoping they wouldn’t notice and take me with them.
A month before I was kicked out of military school, Aaron introduced me to Steve. It was October 31st, 1986. Aaron and I were home for the weekend and there was a crisp autumn chill in the air. Aaron knew Steve because his aunt lived in the house just across from Steve’s backyard. When they were younger they would play whiffle ball together and get up to other little kid hijinks.
Aaron told me that Steve always built a haunted house in his garage for Halloween and the two of us jumped on his ‘Predator’ dirt bike and went over to see if we could help. As Aaron pointed to Steve’s house, I noticed a tall lanky figure in a monk’s robe with a rope belt and a hood on, going to the side of the garage behind some bushes. We pulled up in the driveway and dismounted our bikes. When we walked around to where the hooded figure was going, it seemed he had disappeared into the garage door. We approached to go in, when suddenly this tall monk jumped at us from the dark of the garage wearing an Alf mask, and yelled ‘BOO!’
After feigning fright in a barrage of sarcasm directed at this boy…Aaron introduced me to Steve. Over the years, Steve and I would have many adventures together, and it seems that no matter WHAT circle of friends I travel in…Steve is always one of them. Not to say that he is a follower, Steve is most assuredly his own man, he just knows a good time when he sees it.
Soon after I got kicked out of military school and Aaron left for Florida, it became apparent that STEVE would be the only person I knew who lived somewhat close to me. We formed a bond of friendship that I like to think has made us both stronger as individuals. It’s a hard thing, forming a true friendship. Sometimes people we THINK are our friends betray us, and sometimes when you’re down and out the people you THOUGHT were your friends abandon you. But Steve has been there for me through every piece of shit that life has flung in my face like a monkey on red bull. And if it wasn’t for Glenwood? I might not have ever met him.
12: The End of Glenwood
A week before we were to go on our Thanksgiving break in 1986, my houseparent Mr. Pros, took his family on vacation. While he was gone, our cottage was given a ‘relief’ house parent.
Mr. Pros lived in our cottage with his wife and his young son. They were all very nice people who were kind, patient, and smart. Every year when we would return from camp Glenwood, we were assigned to different cottages, with different house parents, and different kids. I was always stoked to be in Mr. Pros cottage.
Our cottages were filled with boys, not men, but boys. As boys we would often sit in the living room before bed time and watch T.V. in our underwear, or play board games. It never occurred to any of us to NOT be in our underwear, and you have to remember that in the 80’s, people only wore pajamas on fucking T.V. We were kids; it wasn’t like we were marching about the cottage with our dicks hanging out, so sitting on the couch in our boxers never bothered anyone. Not Mr. Pros, not Mrs. Pros, and certainly none of the other house parents I’d been with over the years.
The weekend that Mr. Pros and his family left, my friends and I went out and played ‘army’ by the river that ran through the outskirts of our school. Running around in the mud and dirt, we made quite a mess of ourselves, so we went back to the cottage to clean up.
In our dorm rooms we all had numbered laundry bags, and on Saturday’s, the laundry maid would come and pick them up. Sunday morning our laundry was dropped back off at our cottage before church so we could have fresh clothes for god.
After we got back to our cottage from playing army this particular Saturday, we cleaned up, and then went out into the living room to watch T.V. Our relief house parent, Ms. Watson glanced up from doing her outrageously oversized nails (even in the 80’s black women did this), and started to yell at us saying that it was rude to ‘wea yo’ unda-wea’s aroun’ a lady’.
So we all went to put some clothes on. Because all of my clothes were at the laundry, all I had was a house coat, which I put on and then I went back out into the living room. I plopped my ass down on the couch when a salt shaker hit the back of my head shooting stars into my vision. I jumped up to see who the fuck had just hit me in the head, and I saw that it was Ms. Watson. She, once again, yelled at me, saying: “its 5 o’clock in the aft noon! You don’t wea yo house coat in the day time, now go put some PROPA clothes on!”
Ok, NOW I was pissed. I JUST met this bitch and she’s throwing shit at my head and yelling at me. Fine, she wants clothes on? She’ll fucking get it. I went back to my room and put the only clothes I had on. The wet, mud covered ones from earlier in the day. I casually walked back down the long hallway of the cottage, dripping filth and muddy water on the carpet as I went. I sat on the couch and left a nice big wet human body mud stain in my wake.
About 15 minutes passed by, and I assume that Ms. Watson didn’t notice me because she was too busy putting glitter on her fingernails and reading ‘Ebony’ magazine. The OTHER kids in the living room noticed and they just stared at me in stark disbelief as I watched T.V. You could FEEL the tension in that room as everyone just waited for the inevitable confrontation. Ms. Watson was a new authority figure and the waters had to be tested. I was in the right after all, who the fuck did she think she was? Well, I found that out.
From out of nowhere I suddenly felt a sharp pain on my scalp as I was lifted up from the couch by my hair. Tears immediately filled my vision and I was thrown up against the wall. Lying on my back, I could see Ms. Watson looming over me with her hands on her giant hips. She barked at me while swiveling her head back and forth on her neck and snapping her fingers “Who the fuck you think you is little man? Ain’t NO white boy gonna disrespec’ Ms. Watson! Uh-HUNH! Now you go put PROPA muh fuckin clothes on!”
In all my time at military school, I had NEVER heard a house parent cuss. All the other kids in the living room were now leaning over the back of the couch watching this exchange more closely than ANYthing they ever watched on the TV. I was embarrassed, humiliated, and in pain. I got up crying and said “Fuck you, you fat bitch! I’m going to the dean’s office to find out WHY I can’t wear a goddamned house coat in my own fucking cottage!”
The silence that filled the room was deafening. I’d been in a lot of shit during my time at Glenwood, but NEVER, and I mean NEVER, had I talked to an authority like THAT. Ms. Watson stormed off saying ‘I’m goin to get the paddle! NO white boy gonna talk to ME like that!” As she left the room, there was a brief moment where my peers and I just stared at each other in silence…and then I broke the fuck out and ran to the dean’s office in my filthy clothes.
I ran as fast as I could to get to the dean’s office before Ms. Watson could call him. I KNEW if I could explain to him what happened FIRST, I’d be vindicated. I also knew that if Ms. Watson gave HER side first, nothing I said would matter. I dove down the stairs leading to the office and slammed through the door just in time to notice the dean on duty, Mr. Borgia, hanging up the phone. FUCK! I just threw myself to the lions.
Mr. Borgia was an older man of about 50, but he had a barrel shaped muscular figure. His time in the REAL military was apparent by his authoritative, take no shit, way of taking to us kids. Out of breath, and stammering, I tried to speak, but Mr. Borgia cut me off. “I have a cottage full of kids who say you just cussed at Ms. Watson, she says that you got mud all over the cottage and when she politely asked you to clean it up, you called her names and curse words”
My reply was “but…huh….huh…what had ….huh…huh…happened”. Mr. Borgia stood up from his desk with the furrowed brows of a predator stalking his prey, and walked around standing RIGHT in front of me. With his pointer and middle fingers he began poking me in the chest…hard. “YOU’VE DONE IT NOW HEMPEN” POKE, POKE “YOU’LL BE ON RESTRICTION FOR A YEAR FOR THIS ONE” POKE, POKE “AFTER I CALL YOUR MOTHER AND TELL HER WHAT YOU JUST DID” POKE, POKE
Each poke pushed me back a foot until I was up against the back wall of his office, my chest, where he was poking me was on fire and felt like I was being stabbed. It seemed like for the past hour I had been crying, and in pain, simply because I wore a fucking robe in my own home! I couldn’t take it anymore; I was on the verge of exploding….then I took my LAST poke. “WHAT DO YOU THINK YOUR MOTHER WILL DO TO YOU WHEN SHE HEARS YOU’RE BEING SUSPENDED…AGAIN?” POKE, PO…..
THAT got my attention. I could still feel the welts on my body from the belt beatings my mother inflicted on me the year before after the ‘shit incident’ at Rathje. Fear and panic seeped into my mind and mixed with the anger and injustice already there.
All my years of being punched by my commanding officers in the same place finally came in handy; I put all my fat little strength behind me, and punched Mr. Borgia in the solar plexus as hard as I could. The wind rushed out of him like Katrina, his breath smelled like tuna, old spice, and mustache. He made a hateful ‘O’ face, and fell to his knees directly in front of me. I stood there for about a quarter of a second in amazement as our eyes locked. That quarter second felt like 10 years, I came back to myself and took off like Paris Hilton accidentally walking into an AA meeting. I KNEW that if I were to stay, Mr. Borgia would beat the living shit out of me, and I’d had enough pain for one day. My scalp was throbbing from Ms. Watson pulling my hair, my shoulder felt dislocated from being thrown up against a wall, and my chest was on fire from that barrage of finger bangs in the same place.
The next day, I was called down to the Administration building to speak with the head dean, Mr. Martin. Mr. Martin was a tall round black man who wore glasses as big and thick as above ground swimming pools. He told me that I was to immediately write a letter of apology to Ms. Watson and Mr. Borgia. He also informed me that I would be placed on restriction for the incident with Ms. Watson. It seemed that Mr. Borgia did not want to introduce the fact that I punched him into public record, so I would not be punished for my ‘rash’, and ‘obviously foolish mistake’.
Relief washed over me and that very morning during breakfast in the mess hall, I wrote BOTH apology letters. I had never been so glad to be done with a situation. All of the fantasies of horror that I imagined would ensue…were just that: fantasies. Mr. Martin was a fair and decent man, and he promised me that my mother did NOT need to know of this incident. He knew what her reaction would be, and so he told me that once I had apologized, we would put the whole thing behind us.
What a fucking moron I was to believe him.
13: Thanksgiving Throwdown
That Wednesday morning, I went home with the Myslinski’s for Thanksgiving. I wanted the whole mess to be put behind me, and having Turkey with them the next day was the perfect way to do it. After we got back to their place on Wednesday, Steve met with Aaron and I, and we all rode our bikes up to the movie theatre and saw a flick together. After wards we went and listened to some music at the record store in the mall, and then we all went back to Aarons to play video games.
It was a fantastic day. Back at Aaron’s, the house already smelled of food being prepared for the next day. I was filled with anticipation for that meal, I was filled with joy at having my good friends with me, and I was thankful that my dread over the events from the past weekend had finally dissipated.
One thing I’ve learned in life is that there are ALWAYS consequences for your actions. Good or bad. There are just so many people on this fucking planet that it’s almost impossible for you to do ANYTHING unnoticed. There’s always someone willing to tattle, someone whose thoughtless comments will get you into trouble, someone to break a promise, or someone with something to gain, be it personal or financial, from your downfall.
After Steve left that night, we all went to bed in Aaron’s basement. The basement of the Myslinski house was a large carpeted room with wood panel walls, and an open stair case that was about 7 stairs long with no door. There was a bunk bed in the left corner near the stairs, and several couches around a T.V. set. Although Aaron, Frank, and Mike all had their own rooms, whenever I was over they would all crash in the basement. Mike and Frank slept on two different couches, Aaron on the lower bunk, and I on the top bunk.
We would always pass out watching something on T.V., and that night was no different. Whoever woke up first in the middle of the night would be the one to turn the set off while the rest of us slept. Back then, after midnight, most stations just played dead air, or static like in Poltergeist.
At three o’clock in the morning I awoke to the sound of a terrible pounding coming from somewhere in the house. POUND, POUND, POUND! Continuous pounding. Angry pounding. The kind of pounding that you just KNOW isn’t going to turn out good, like the F.B.I., or a pimp, or an ex girlfriend from 2 years ago with a 1 year old baby in her arms. POUND, POUND, POUND.
I could see from the light that the static on the TV threw across the room, and assumed at first that the T.V. was making that noise. I sat up and looked at the static for a long minute. POUND, POUND, POUND. Creepy. Now I was getting a little scared. Mike SHOT up into a sitting position on the couch, wide eyed and confused. I whispered to him “I think it’s the T.V. Shut it off”. POUND, POUND, POUND!
From below me, Aaron said “I don’t think that’s the T.V.” Mike still just sat there on the couch with the same expression of ‘sleepy’ wide eyed ‘what the fuck’ on his face, and I noticed Frank roll off the couch next to him. POUND, POUND, POUND! Without saying a word, Frank lazily crawled over to the TV and shut it off.
We were all awake now, and there was an eerie silence in the room as we all waited to see if it WAS the T.V. We were listening for NO sound. ..POUND, POUND, POUND!
We could hear their mother now, in the hallway just above the basement cursing and muttering under her breath. Aaron shouted up the stairs in the dark “mom, what is that?” She told us “someone’s at the door. Are Mike and Frank down there?” Mike and Frank both responded that they were.
We heard the deadbolt clack on the front door as Tess unlocked it, and then we heard a loud crash and an angry voice as Aaron’s mother was forcefully thrown aside by MY mother. She was drunk off her ass, and in her police uniform, which made her even more intimidating. From the basement, Mike, Aaron, Frank, and I could hear a commotion up stairs, but we still didn’t quite understand what was going on.
Suddenly the basement light turned on filling our vision with stars as our eyes tried to adjust to the bright light, my mother came stumbling down the stairs and burst angrily into the room. From the top bunk I could start to make out her form. I was groggy, and I still didn’t know what exactly was happening. My mother shrieked: “WHERE’S MY SON?” It would be impossible for me to describe to you the horror that I felt at that moment.
I was fourteen at that point and had a bit of a lip on me, so I started yelling “what the hell are you doing here? What do you want?” She locked eyes on me like The Terminator, stumbled over to the bunk bed, grabbed me by the hair, angrily pulled me out of the top bunk, and forcefully dragged me up the stairs and out of the house.
I was in so much pain at this point that I didn’t know what to cry about. My neck and ass hurt from being pulled out of the top bunk and dragged UP a flight of stairs by my hair, and she wouldn’t answer me when I asked “WHY?” That was the MOST frightening part…just that scary look that drunks get when they’re mad, but don’t say anything. I can honestly say that from everything I’d been through up to that point in my life, and everything I’ve been through up to NOW…that was the most humiliating thing that has ever happened to me.
Well, it turned out that earlier that night my mother had gotten a call from the principal of Glenwood. They’d decided to expel me. I was not allowed back on campus. Which meant I couldn’t even say goodbye to the few friends I DID have there; they would pass me through eighth grade, but I couldn’t go to eighth grade graduation, nothing. Cut off. I didn’t know HOW to feel, I was miserable because it was all I knew, and now I’d have to deal with my mother, yet at the same time I felt as though I’d been freed from a prison. Steve McQueen on the motorcycle finally making it to the Swiss border…but like that great scene…the feeling wouldn’t last.
You’d think that now my mother would have to deal with me, but not quite. That’s a longer story which ends with my sister hating my guts and my mother having me legally emancipated, meaning that I’m an adult at 16 rather than 18, and she can legally kick me out. This led to my FIRST stint at homelessness. Nothing like sleeping under a train bridge or behind a bus company when you’re sixteen to really boost the ole ego.
14: Ma Hempen Mea Culpa
Now I know what you’re saying; WHHAAAAAA! Well, I’m not here to tell a sob story…just a story. To be honest with you later in life I got the opportunity to help my mother defeat her alcoholic demons through AA. She was born again, and although we had opposing views on religion, I always respected what it did for her.
If you saw a picture of her when she WAS drinking and one right before she died, you might think that there IS some kind of demon in booze. In her later years she devoted her time to helping addicts as a drug counselor. When she passed away, there were so many people at the funeral home; I thought I was going to have to rent another room there. All of these people told stories of how they had hit rock bottom and my mother was the one to pull them up and in some cases make them the success they were at that moment. I never realized what an impact my mother had on people’s lives until that day.
While at the wake, a sobbing man approached me. He could barely speak through his grief. I had never met this man before in my life. (I’m actually tearing up just recalling this). He handed me an envelope and told me that he had been a crack addict. For YEARS. It destroyed his life. He lost his wife, he’d lost any rights to see his kids, and he’d performed unspeakable acts and done horrendous things in order to feed his addiction.
Then he met my mother. He told me that she was an angel sent by god to help him. She did everything for him. Helped him through his withdrawals, counseled him, yelled at him, at times even HIT him so that he would not just hear her…but LISTEN to her. Then he told me that she got him a job on a construction site years ago. He now owned his own construction company and is a multi millionaire. When he walked away, I was thinking the same thing you are; yeah, right. Then I opened the envelope. Not only did he foot the entire bill for the funeral, but he paid for the banquet after.
THAT…that was the proudest moment of my life.
One of the harsh lessons I’ve had to learn in life is that as a man, you will never meet a woman who loves you more than your mother. There is a special bond between a boy and his mother that exists nowhere else in nature. If you take anything away from this story, it’s to spend all the time you can with your mother, ask her questions, let her teach you how to cook, and don’t waste one minute being mad at her. After all, she’s only human.
15: Keep Your Hands and Face Away from the Monkey
Look, I certainly didn’t have it worse than anybody else, and I think the fact that I can laugh about it now makes me somewhat of a (sort of) well adjusted individual. Sometimes when I look back on my youth with sadness or regret, I remember that I have all my appendages and a relatively steady speech pattern, and hell…at least I still have my clit. Have you SEEN that thing on HBO about what they do to women in Nigeria?
My life has been strippers, midgets, and balloons compared to what those poor women have to endure. FUCK the middle east, we need to send those troops to Nigeria and introduce some arcane ‘Spanish Inquisition’ justice to those cowardly, monstrous, inhuman fuckwads that would chop off a woman’s who-ha after shunning their sister for being raped, RIGHT before they go and rape someone. Makes me want to take the first bus off this shithole planet.
And that, at least in part, is my point. Why do some people walk around LOOKING for a plate of fucking misery when there is plenty on the buffet table? Calm down, relax. As shitty as some of the things we have to endure in life are; work, school, not being able to find a way out of a co-dependant relationship, getting into an accident without insurance, testing positive for Chlamydia (none of that has happened to me by the way). Just remember, at least YOU didn’t get your face and hands eaten off by a fucking monkey.
Bottom line? I’m sure Glenwood WAS a positive influence in some people’s lives. Youth can be an amazing time. My youth may not have been so great, but at least I’m at a point now where I can look back on it with a grain of salt. I’m happy and well adjusted as an adult, so maybe it wasn’t so bad after all. When I look at it, it seems that those who reflect on that time in their life do it fondly. Most of them have wives and children now, and I have nothing but good thoughts for their continued success. Except Tom Padgett…fuck you Tom Padgett.
My only hope for Glenwood is that they change the slogan: “Where a man is what happens to a boy” I think that you can find that saying embroidered on a pillow in the lobby of a N.A.M.B.L.A. club house.
To Be Continued…