Autoblography Part 6: Happy Halloween

By Shamus Posted Thursday Sep 1, 2011

Filed under: Personal 144 comments

shamus_1980.jpg

Third grade. The teacher is explaining adjectives. She offers an example sentence and invites us to add one or more adjectives to it: “The corn is cooking on the grill.”

I zone back in from whatever daydream world I’ve been exploring. This actually sounds a bit interesting. There is a lot of room for adjectives in there. I uncharacteristically raise my hand, “The delicious golden corn is cooked quickly on the scorching hot iron grill?”

She looks at me in stunned silence. I guess she was expecting, “The yummy corn is cooking,” or somesuch. “That’s better than the example they give in the book.” she tells me, referring to the teacher’s guide in her hand. She is genuinely shocked.

When it’s clear she’s not going to give me any more sentences to decorate, I go back to daydreaming. She hands out worksheets later. These have more of the same sort of work, but completing it would mean half an hour of cramp-inducing writing, and who needs that? If she wants more adjectives she can just ask me and I’ll give her all she wants, but I’m not wasting time filling out paperwork.

Some of the kids make fun of the way I’m dressed. I’m wearing brown slacks and green dress socks. This subject comes up again and again in their teasing.

Left:Patrick. Right: Me. Bottom: Those pants! Aaaaaaah!
Left:Patrick. Right: Me. Bottom: Those pants! Aaaaaaah!

I have no idea why some clothes are better than others, or why people care. I’m wearing hand-me-downs. I don’t shop for my clothes, so I don’t really have much say in what I wear. It’s like being teased about what day of the week it is. However, their teasing irritates me. Do they expect me to put on different clothes just to please them? They’re jerks, and if they weren’t making fun of my socks they’d just pick on me for something else.

Over the next year our financial situation improves. Mom takes me shopping, and it’s possible for me to pick out my own clothes instead of taking whatever strange, random stuff is gifted to us. I could get blue jeans and tube socks, if I wanted.

When Mom offers, I ask for slacks, like the ones I’ve been wearing. Tan or black or brown. No blue jeans. And I want dress socks. Green ones. Yes, they must be green. When she asks why, I’m not quite able to articulate my reasons. Later I’ll realize that I’m doing this because I don’t want any of the kids to think that I changed what I’m wearing just to please them. I’m going to wear what I like, and I’ve decided what I like is brown polyester pants and green dress socks. Forever. Because screw those kids. They suck.

They continue to tease me, but now they’re teasing me for something I’ve chosen. I hate it, but if I won their approval because I started dressing like them, I would feel like I was betraying myself. It would be like admitting they were right.

shamus_1980_october.jpg

I am not healthy. I have no appetite. I eat a little when food is given to me, but if nobody brings me food I don’t eat any. I don’t care. I guess I’m just not interested in food.

I’m going to Children’s Hospital on a regular basis. My asthma and allergies are making a mess of my respiratory system. I have an asthma inhaler that I’m supposed to take once or twice a day, and I huff on it a lot more often than that. The doctor gives me pills to help with the asthma, and other pills to help with the allergies, and more pills to counteract the side-effects of the previous pills. In the morning I line up a row of seven different multi-colored pills and send them down, one at a time. Clear ones. Opaque ones. Capsules. Big ones. Tiny ones. It’s a pharmacological rainbow.

I have an appointment at Children’s Hospital on Halloween. During Trick-or-Treat. Well, just BEFORE it, but by the time I get home it will be over. Are these people NUTS? Do they not talk to kids much over there at Children’s Hospital? Are they not aware that Halloween is INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT in the life of a kid?

My uncle goes trick-or-treating for me. He’s about thirty, and he goes around the neighborhood with a pillowcase, explaining that he’s getting candy for a kid at Children’s Hospital. I am humbled when he presents me with the candy. I’m old enough to know how goofy it must feel for an adult to do something like that. “Uh, can I have some candy? It’s for a kid. In the hospital. Yeah. That’s why he’s not here. But he’s still healthy enough to eat a pillowcase full of food dye and sugar. Yeah. Thanks.”

I never even asked. He just did it.

 


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144 thoughts on “Autoblography Part 6: Happy Halloween

  1. Gruegar says:

    Best uncle ever :).

    1. Bubble181 says:

      Seconded.

      1. mac says:

        Agreed. This series is great, by the way.

        1. kmc says:

          Those are the kinds of actions that really make a difference, especially to a kid. They really stick with you. That uncle is awesome.

            1. Destrustor says:

              Is there a nobel prize for best uncle ever? It should definitely exist. And be given to your uncle.

              1. Meredith says:

                Seconded. That’s just awesome.

                1. theLameBrain says:

                  Awesome Uncle! I hope I am half the uncle he is!

                  1. Cuthalion says:

                    There always seems to be that one uncle who is completely awesome. +1.

                    1. Fat Tony says:

                      Uncle Awesome. Young!

                    2. Veloxyll says:

                      +1

                      THOUSAND.

                      Best uncle!

                    3. Amarsir says:

                      Seeing the impression this made, I hereby vow that if I ever have a nephew, and he is unable to trick-or-treat on Halloween, I swear that I will absolutely, with no fear of self-consciousness, go to the store and buy a lot of candy for him, then put it in a pillowcase and tell him I went trick-or-treating.

                      Because I care, but you know, I still understand math. ;)

                    4. Usually_Insane says:

                      +1 Uncle :)

    2. ENC says:

      In Australia we don’t really celebrate holidays besides: Queen’s Birthday (not actually ON her birthday, some monday), Easter, Australia Day, Christmas, Labour Day, Melbourne Cup Day (horse racing).

      Mind you, these are the days we get off where we don’t actually do any celebrating of these events (except cup and Australia Day).

      1. MalthusX says:

        In Canada, we also celebrate the Queen’s birthday, and we also celebrate it on the Monday. However, it didn’t used to be that way; it used to be celebrated here on the 24th of May, no matter what day of the week it was. This was great for my family, because my Mom was also born on the 24th, and she had her birthday off every year.

  2. Zaxares says:

    These days, if a 30-year old man (without any kids next to him) went around the neighborhood asking for candy in a pillowcase, I’m sure the cops would be called.

    … I’m not sure whether to find that funny or sad. :/

    1. Sem says:

      Some years ago I saw 2 children struggle with a heavy bag and decided to help them but for a second I was debating with myself if it would be a good idea to approach them or not.

      It’s one aspect where I think our society is regressing. Steven pinker did a talk about violence in 2007 (link) where he explains that we live in the most peaceful of times. However, the perception of violence is very high so nowadays people see potential criminals everywhere.

      1. Dys says:

        That would be the inevitable shape of media paid by the eyeball.

      2. Meredith says:

        Thanks 24 hour news channels, society sure is better for all your sensationalism.

      3. Leonardo Herrera says:

        However, the perception of violence is very high so nowadays people see potential criminals everywhere.

        Well, if you ask anybody about what’s more common, murder or suicide, they will most likely answer “murder.” We tend to distort things.

        1. Veloxyll says:

          Plus, at least here, there are laws against reporting suicides.

          Plus plus for 80-90% of the audience, suicide is unlikely to happen to them personally. Murder on the other hand could be in their future!

      4. Methermeneus says:

        Your link appears to have lost its href at some point. Luckily, as a linguist, I have a lot of Steven Pinker links at my fingertips. I’m guessing you meant either http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ramBFRt1Uzk or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xjpm5vbNGdE.

        Unfortunately, as a linguist, I also have a lot of Noam Chomsky at my fingertips. >.<

  3. Jarenth says:

    I know I’ve said this before, but the only appreciable difference between Young Shamus in the picture and Older Shamus the avatar is in the hair.

    I don’t know why I find that so amusing. I look nothing like me as a little kid, maybe that has something to do with it.

    1. BenD says:

      The hair and grown-up Shamus definitely has adult teeth. Well, I guess the avatar’s mouth is closed, but I’m still pretty sure there’s teeth in there.

    2. Paul Spooner says:

      I’m not sure what you’re talking about. I mean, they’re both smiling, but anyone looks similar when they are both smiling. What’s the same? Eye shape, chin, cheeks, those all look different to me. If you ask me the kid picture looks like a girl.
      That’s right, I said it, you looked like a girl Shamus!
      Then again, I’m terrible with faces, so there’s that.

      1. Mari says:

        I think your eyes are being tricked by the haircut in the younger picture. The longer hair visually shortens his face and the bangs visually shorten his forehead. But if you strip off the hair mentally you find that there is a lot of cranial similarity.

        Long face, pointed chin, high forehead, angular jaw. His cheeks did drop some as he aged which changes the look of his eyes, plus age has pulled his eyes in some which disguises some of the shape. The nose has matured some, but you can see the roots of it in his childhood picture with the smooth, narrow bridge and the strong, even slope.

        The impressive part is that his smile doesn’t seem to have changed much. At least not his “photo smile.” Both of the pics are staged and arranged, though, so his candid smile might be different. But both smiles are the same tight-lipped sardonic grin with virtually no top lip revealed, as if he’s biting back a laugh at the photographer’s (or perhaps the world’s) expense.

        1. Aldowyn says:

          dang, Mari. I feel like there’s some relevant professional experience here. Or possibly I’m just bad at visual descriptions like that.

          I hope I never have to describe someone to a sketch artist…

  4. Mom says:

    I never appreciated what Larry did for you that night until I read this. And I wish I knew who took the pic at Grandma’s. We all look SO happy about something.
    The film may have been developed in October but the calendar clearly says May.

    1. Shamus says:

      I know! You could never trust those dang Mellon Bank calendars. Always showing the wrong month.

    2. Patrick the Chocolately Oppressed says:

      How come I didnt get a free bag of candy!! I got sick! I got hurt! I had to go to the hospital on more than 1 occasion and I never had bed linen filled with chocolate when I came home! This sucks…. he got all the cool clothes, mislle-finger shogun warrior, free candy AND he stole my ZAGNUTS!

      1. Shamus says:

        I didn’t “steal” your Zagnuts. I only convinced you to enter into a series of increasingly unfair and one-sided trades, which resulted in me having all the Zagnuts and you getting all of the popcorn balls and fruit.

        Which I guess is basically stealing.

        Sorry.

        1. SolkaTruesilver says:

          Man, Shamus is so meta, he makes diplomacy checks about the result of previosu diplomacy checks..

        2. Michael says:

          You’re not stealing Zagnuts, you’re “moving unwanted merchandise” and “buying wanted merchandise real cheap-like or I’ll break your legs.”

        3. Imposing Snail says:

          Were you using the Fallout 2 barter system?

  5. Zukhramm says:

    Well I know what I’m buying next time I need pants or socks.

  6. Sem says:

    I don't want any of the kids to think that I changed what I'm wearing just to please them.

    Yep, I also have this. Arguments à  la Everybody does this or It’s the way it’s done never carried much weight with me. Even worse, as kid, I sometimes deliberately did the opposite of what others did because I strongly disliked conformism.

    Also, best uncle ever.

    1. SolkaTruesilver says:

      I don’t know about that. Purposely anticonformism is still a form of compliance in our world.

      Okay, maybe not at the time. But now it’s in not to conform. So some people conform by not conforming.

      I did away with all these troubles years ago and just stopped caring about what other people care regarding my wardrobe.

      1. Sem says:

        Indeed. I also stopped doing it years ago but I still have the knee-jerk reaction of doing the opposite just because.

        1. Yeah, I also have the same behaviour when someone acts aggressively to make me do something that I was obviously going to do anyway because it’s polite (driving lane changes, walking standing aside) – suddenly I want to be the arsehole there just to teach them some manners

    2. silver Harloe says:

      Everyone else does it, so I will.
      Everyone else does it, so I will not (or I will do the opposite).

      Both contain “everyone else does it, so I” – they are both abdications of your will to the herd’s will. Freedom only comes when “everyone else does it” doesn’t get followed by “so I…” :)

      1. Veloxyll says:

        Everyone else does it, so I point and laugh.

        1. TSED says:

          Which is still a reaction to the herd mentality, meaning you are still influenced BY said herd mentality.

  7. Mersadeon says:

    Shamus, I know you said you only write these because you want to write them, but I really, really appreciate that you let us read them. They really are heartwarming and very interesting.

    About this part: man, when I looked at the photo at the start of this one, it just really made click in my head – that cute little boy? He is this guy. He is the guy in the small picture at the top. It’s just hard to realise for me (being only 19) how time flows. Seeing my own baby pictures or those of my friend, ok, but seeing this one? I just had this mental image of your face, how it changed through the years. That little boy is the guy whose blog you read, who talks about all those videogames and anime and stuff.

    1. kmc says:

      Isn’t that funny? At work here, we all have little-kid pictures of ourselves hung up on a corkboard, and when people come in they try to guess who’s who. But it’s weird, too, because then you think about your coworkers/friends in this whole other light, people who grew up in a totally different place, in a totally different world. And one of those coworkers is now my husband, so I look back and forth between that picture and him and I’m like, “Really?”

  8. Zeta Kai says:

    Goddamn, you were a cute little boy. You might not care about such a thing now, but your mom (Hi!) should appreciate that someone on the internet thinks her son was very cute as a child. Also, your uncle was a minor saint; everyone should have an uncle like that.

  9. Dwip says:

    I see the two of you kids in that picture and all I can think of is “Eek, vampires!” and “Cannibalism!” Not sure what that says about me.

    Kind of happy to know I’m not the only one who did (does, really) that same thing with food. I guess it’s really important to people? Like you need it to live? Some insignificant thing like that. I like it well enough when I’m eating it and all, but I pretty much have to remind myself to eat or I don’t.

    I don’t remember ever getting teased for clothes (well, I bought a ton of Garfield shirts for my freshman year of HS, but that was more embarassing myself than anything), but boy did I get it for the glasses, to about the same reaction on my part. I like my glasses.

    Your uncle for the win. Kind of jealous. Us rural kids didn’t really get to go trick or treating. It’s kind of hard when you’re three miles out of town. They did do a Halloween party at the school, and I guess that was pretty cool, but I always felt like I was missing out on some essential part of kidhood or something.

    Continue to be amused by how closely your experiences in school mirror my own ten years later. There seem to be a lot of us like that.

    1. Methermeneus says:

      Just shows how advanced Shamus was. An unsung genius, dealing with social issues at an age when most of us didn’t know there were issues to take with society!

  10. I lived in a lot of trailer parks growing up. I’ll leave it at that, but I find these posts resonate.

  11. Ruthie says:

    Brother, you should stop making me cry. No wait, I take it back… I love it. And where did that photo come from?!?! Grandma’s expression is so wonderful.

  12. Pearly says:

    I've decided what I like is brown polyester pants and green dress socks. Forever. Because screw those kids.

    I just about cried. I work in preschool but after school hours I also do evening/night care for elementary school kids, and if I’d ever had a kid like you in my group, I don’t think I’d ever let go. That was beautiful.

    …actually, now that I look at the comments on this project so far, most of them seem to be, if not commendations or thanks, notes of sympathy. “I remember something like that from my own childhood.” I guess my perspective is a little different, that that’s not what I think of first. That’s interesting, and I never noticed it before.

    1. Dys says:

      I suspect the comments on this blog are likely subject to heavy sample bias. What Shamus said about education is spot on though. The systematising of the education systems was born from an assembly line mentality, ignoring the fact that such systems only work if the inputs are identical. Modern education is often a form of one size fits nobody. School really does suck for almost everyone, unless you have exceptional teachers.

      1. decius says:

        I think that there is a large amount of selection in the school system for below-median teachers. The best people are chased off by requirements to conform and to have the students pass the state tests.

        Dr. Suess even wrote a book about it, but the name escapes me…

      2. Deoxy says:

        Our school system was designed by an avowed socialist with the express purpose of churning out good socialist citizens. Actual education was at best a secondary concern.

        Seriously, go look it up – THAT is the basis for our education system. It fails at education BY DESIGN. So many of the other problems with it that we talk about are either a symptom of that initial problem or of secondary importance to it.

        1. Sean says:

          A convincing and entertaining video discussing the weird education paradigm of today (likely seen by more than a few already… heck, Shamus may have clued me in to it originally): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U

          1. Jonathan says:

            This is really well done, and a very good explanation. +1

        2. silver Harloe says:

          Man. Where were Dys and Deoxy when I was writing this: http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=12271&cpage=1#comment-220604 ? Hehehe.

  13. MadTinkerer says:

    “Because screw those kids. They suck.”

    In high school, I had a bad habit of doing precisely the minimum amount of any homework required and no more. A big reason for this habit being reinforced was that the teachers were always making us do stupid things like reading our essays in class. In front of the other students. The loathsome bastards who (for the most part) spoke far worse than I did and yet made fun of the way I talked.

    Anyway, at one point I had dipped a little too far below the line of “acceptable minimum” and me and my best friend at the time were called over to a teacher I had never met before or since. (I think one of his jobs was trying to set “problem students” straight. Too bad for him I wasn’t a problem student, and also not even from the same culture.) To sum up his scathing, vile speech which I was desperately ignoring at the time while nodding my head on auto-pilot when he expected an answer, “Your behavior is unacceptable. Why can’t you be more like the other students? You need to shape up or you’ll never amount to being another brick in the wall.”

    So basically, the way the loathsome bastards were acting towards me and each other was just fine. But being nice to as many people as I could and ignoring those who refused to give me a chance to be nice to them just wasn’t good enough.

    And my reward for putting effort in was supposedly to become an acceptable cog in the machine. Those weren’t his precise words, but that’s a reasonable summary. He never said anything about excelling. He never said anything about trying to be the best. His point was that we would never amount to anything more than mediocrity, but we needed to hurry up and start being mediocre because we owed it to society* to be mediocre. I quickly realized after we left that building that I really wanted to break his face. I still wish I had marched back in there and done so.

    My grades weren’t the best, but my behavior was, and he did indicate he reviewed our records beforehand. Who was this prick to tell me that putting minimum effort into coursework was worse than, for example, physically bullying other students? Okay, he probably didn’t mean it that way. However, at best he was really fucking incompetent for not realizing that he was getting cause and effect exactly 180 degrees the wrong way around. I couldn’t stand to do more than the minimum effort precisely because of the rest of the student body.

    College was such a relief. Such a fucking relief. Not a single person in class who didn’t want to be there (and other than one asshole, which is a looong story for another time, no asshole teachers either). Fucking bliss.

    *Not even my own society, I might add. I was an American living in London. I wasn’t even actually part of the British Nanny State, and even though my friend technically was, that doesn’t make it right for the asshole to treat either of us that way.

    1. Kdansky says:

      Technically, if you live in London, you’re part of London society. Feeling like part of some other culture is just false patriotism*, especially when the differences are as minor as UK-US.

      *I further claim there is no such thing as good patriotism. It’s only ever an excuse to be a dick to other people.

      1. Depends on what you mean by Patriotism – you can be proud of what your country has done without being a jerk about other countries.

        I’m not that much of a patriot myself, but there are positive aspects to it as well. It’s just that (as with so many labels) the people we see who identify as such are generally the obnoxious, loud and/or insane ones

        1. Kdansky says:

          Am I supposed to be proud on things that other people did who lived close to where I live now by pure chance? That’s like being proud for being born to rich parents or being proud on drawing four aces in poker. None of these is an accomplishment. There is nothing to be proud of.

          I can think highly of people who did something awesome, but I cannot be proud of it if I didn’t have a hand in it. This mistake is precisely what makes Patriots unbearable. They indirectly claim someone else’s deeds as their own. It’s is part of the “our group is superior” mentality, and quite disgusting. Check The Robbers Cave Experiment for how horrible human group mentality is.

          The people who lived here (Switzerland) before me managed to create a pretty great place to live, but that does not mean I should be proud of it. In fact, I should be humbled because I have not yet contributed very much to it and am profiting from their heritage a lot.

          1. Meredith says:

            Kdansky, that’s exactly how I’ve always felt about it. I can’t tell you how great it is to see someone else express this opinion on national pride. How can I be proud of something I didn’t personally do?

            1. Jeff says:

              This is why I also have no interest in watching sports.

              I’m supposed to be happy that some people I don’t know played better than some other people I don’t know? I don’t get it.

              I can appreciate the amazing things they can do (like Beckham’s amazing shots that make the ball turn like 90 degrees WTF how does that work?!), but I don’t really care who wins.

          2. somebodys_kid says:

            “I can think highly of people who did something awesome, but I cannot be proud of it if I didn't have a hand in it. ”

            So can parents not be proud of their children’s accomplishments?

            1. Methermeneus says:

              Sure they can; parents had a hand in turning their kids into people capable of accomplishing those deeds. To what degree their parenting was involved may be up for debate, but the fact that it has some effect is undeniable. However, there is an unfortunate term called “parental pride” that is probably better described as “parental delight” in most cases. Many parents call it “pride” when they are simply delighted to see their children doing well.

            2. Mr Jack says:

              Yes they can, because parents have a dramatic influence on their children. Therefore they have a hand in their children’s accomplishments. Children are their parents’ responsibility.

              I cannot claim to have helped James Clerk Maxwell discover his Theory of Electromagnetism just because we were born in the same country.

      2. Joe Cool says:

        I don’t mean to start an argument, but to me, that’s like saying “there’s no such thing as good love-of-family. It’s only ever an excuse to be a jerk to other families.”

        Patriotism, really, is just love of family applied to the broader community. Doesn’t mean it’s misused, mind, but if I’m allowed to love my family more than other families, than I may do the same for my country. Doesn’t mean my family/country is better or the best, but as it’s the one that’s given me the most, it’s the one I’ll try to help out the most.

        1. Brian says:

          This. Exactly. Patriotism is nothing more than love of your fellow man within a certain area. Just as having familial love doesn’t mean you are excluding non-family from your charity, affections, etc, having a love for your country and countrymen doesn’t mean you exclude people from other countries, races, cultures, etc.

          What is a perversion of the good that is patriotism is nationalism. My country against all those others. My country, right or wrong. My country, and to hell with the rest of them.

          1. Kdansky says:

            So, you love people who live close to you more than those that live far away? And that doesn’t strike you as completely arbitrary? Why not love people more who have darker hair or who wear blue shirts?

            If you make a distinction between someone from your home town (whom you don’t know) to someone from another town (whom you don’t know either), it’s nothing else than discrimination. It’s pretty much the same as racism, just in different (politically correct) clothing. Sure, you can downplay either and talk about the positive side (“I’ll help people nearby” / “I’ll help people with my skin colour”) but in the end, all you are doing is making an arbitrary distinction between your group and their group.

            1. Adam says:

              Oh, come off it now; this is silly.

              Patriotism isn’t arbitrary; that people feel it makes perfect sense. You share a ton more in common with the average American (assuming you’re American, and more or less depending on how long your family’s lived here, etc) than you do with, say, the population of Bombay, India: a culture, a shared lot in the well-being of a specific community, etc. etc. etc.

              I certainly do, so I naturally have a special love for my fellow countrymen. We have a connection. We have more in common. And in terms of sports, etc., that identification allows the athlete to act as a sort of proxy.

              This is basic psychology no different from the processes of romance.

              And yes, it’s “discrimination” – but only in a very neutral sense of the word.

              Now if you don’t want anything to do with it, fine (although you certainly do feel it to some degree, even if you don’t know it). That’s kinda where things are headed anyway as the world globalizes. But it doesn’t make you any better a person.

              Saying you don’t even understand how it makes any sense really just comes off as disingenuous, a putting-on of Spock airs. “I am only logical. I do not understand this irrational thing you feel that is almost universal to humanity.”

              1. Shamus says:

                While I agree with your sentiment, I would be very, very slow to make definitive statements about what other people do and do not feel. I find it entirely plausible (after reading Kdansky’s posts for quite some time now) to believe he simply doesn’t experience that same tribal affinity that most other people do.

                1. Adam says:

                  Sustained, as a judge might say. You certainly know him better than I do.

                2. Kdansky says:

                  You are perfectly correct. But I strongly believe that I do not feel this tribalism, because I chose not to, because I find it morally wrong. Discriminating for irrelevant matters (while not hiring someone who is unqualified might technically be “discriminating”, it’s still very relevant) is always wrong.

                  And very importantly: An american Software Developer is much more similar to an Indian Software Developer than he is to an American House-wife, and vice-versa. This goes for any job. What you do all your day influences your personality much more than your skin colour could, and you chose something to do everyday that suits you, and not based on what the average Joe in your country does. I cannot find the article right now, but I’ll post if if I do.

                  I have a lot more in common with Shamus than I have with my neighbour (who is a fashion photographer), yet Shamus lives in the US (and I’m in central Europe), and we do not even share a native tongue. Individual differences are much bigger than the averaged national differences ever could be.

      3. MadTinkerer says:

        Oh, I’m not claiming to have lived apart from the people in London. In fact, despite the large number of jerks in the school, I met quite a few entirely decent people, including my best friend in high school.

        But I was certainly not part of The Nanny State, which was that teacher’s main point. He was very much trying to guilt us into “behaving” because our parents had paid into The System, other people’s taxes, etc. and we would be part of The System when we left. We owed it to those who had paid into The System to become good little parts of The System.

        Which was particularly bullshit for him to say to me because we were going to move back to the States before I was going into The System. But it was also deeply insulting to my friend because the implication was that his destiny had been decided by The System, and that destiny was mediocrity.

        None of this has anything to do with British society, tradition, history, or relations between the countries. It has nothing to do which country I identify myself with. It doesn’t even have anything to do directly with the British government being an out-of-control Orwellian monster (in some peoples’ opinions).

        What it is, is the teacher’s assumptions that 1) The System was primarily responsible for any success I enjoyed 2) I was primarily responsible for any failure I suffered 3) The System both evaluates and my maximum potential and determines my social position 4) That evaluation/determination was that I and my friend were destined for mediocrity. Any teacher who says such things to any student in any society deserves to have their face broken into pieces.

        The fact that the teacher was English was a minor detail. I only mentioned it because he was more factually wrong about saying such things to me and more morally wrong about saying such things to my friend.

        EDIT: Okay, also, re-reading my post, I think I wasn’t clear on the society part. Part of the teacher’s point seemed to be that there was no distinction to him between “society” (i.e. actual people) and the Nanny State/System/Machine/Orwellian Nightmare. I never meant to denigrate the fine folks of the British Isles other than the specific assholes who picked on me and my associates in high school. It was that teacher who was denigrating his own people by trying to say everyone owed their success to the System.

        In other words, he had a lower view of his own countrymen than I did. Which is part of why I wanted to break his face.

      4. Patrick the Chocolately Oppressed says:

        I’m not sure what you view as patriotism is the same as what I or manyothers view it as. Any sane person can easily come up with a dozen or so examples of “Patriotism” gone awry, of a group or individual who has furthered their own goals by invoking the concept of “Patriotic duty”. To me patriotism is not neccessarily taking ownership or claim to an accomplishment that they had no part in, but simply recgnizing that an accomplishment has been made. In most cases of true patriotism, this accomplishment required sacrifice by a group or indvidual and it was made for the benefit of more than that persons. I don’t neccesarily have had to been a part of that sacrifice to appreciate that it was made for me by people who had never met me.
        You mentioned you had been humbled by the people who came before you that made Switzerland such a nice place to live. To me, simply by recognizing that is in a way Patriotic. If someone were to ask you to contribute in a similar fashion, would you? Then I would say you are doing your Patriotic Duty. Patriotism does not have to be an expression of arrogance. It should not be an instrument of condescension. Patriotism is simply a pride in a particular behavioral pattern, style of dress, type of food….. of a local culture. Now if that culture has racism or prejudice as a compnent or defining characteristic, then that is the fault of that culture not the concept of Patriotism.
        Its very easy to confuse Patriotism with racism, or cultural superiority and many times it has been used to those means. But thats just it, patriotism isn’t wrong simply because some people have misused it. Pick up any major religious publication and there will be examples of how people have misused the teachings in that book. I wouldn’t say the religion itself is worthless.

        Patriotism is fine. People are jerks.

  14. HeadHunter says:

    It’s great to blog about movies or games or whatever we find fun, but THIS sort of thing is what blogging should really be about.

    If it’s therapeutic for you and informative and entertaining for us, that’s good! If it helps us to understand someone better by seeing so many parallels to ourselves, that’s even BETTER!

    Eagerly looking forward to reading more. Thank ytou for sharing yourself with us.

  15. Mom says:

    I never appreciated what Larry did for you that night until I read this. And I wish I knew who took the pic at Grandma’s. We all look SO happy about something,

    1. Shamus says:

      I never truly appreciated this comment until you posted it a second time. :)

      1. Malkara says:

        Your mom’s a spammer! Next thing you know she’ll be screeching “first!”

        :D

      2. Mom says:

        You know that was an accident, right? I posted, then edited, then there was this other box in front of me with my original post but not posted. “I thought I posted that!”
        “Well to be sure I will hit this post comment button.”
        “O now it is up there twice. ”
        “Well, I will edit the second one by deleting it.”
        “O, not an option.”
        “Well I will just backspace till it is gone.”
        “No, that doesn’t work either. ”
        O well, that looks dumb but at least I can write in cursive.”

        1. krellen says:

          I can’t write in cursive, so I’ll give you that one over me, Mrs. Young.

        2. Ruthie says:

          I love you Momma.

        3. Oleyo says:

          “No, that doesn't work either. “
          O well, that looks dumb but at least I can write in cursive.”

          I think that is the best non-computer-era to computer-era burn I have ever heard. I need to tell my Mom that one :)

  16. lazlo says:

    But, but, but… You added an adverb too! That’s not fair. I was sure the teacher was going to pick on you because you did things unrelated to the topic at hand (and rightfully so, there’s a certain value to learning one thing at a time)

    Also, awesome uncle. Though honestly, it seems for my kids, and also my recollection of my own youth, Halloween candy was great and all, but was really secondary to getting dressed up in funky clothes and wandering the neighborhood, maybe scaring a few folx…

    1. Methermeneus says:

      That may be true (and was for me), but it’s still the thought that counts. Any uncle who would go out and do that so his nephew wouldn’t miss out on Halloween completely is undoubtedly an unbelievable uncle.

  17. Kdansky says:

    >The delicious golden corn is cooked quickly on the scorching hot iron grill.

    That is just awesome. Some of those are not even adjectives, but adverbs. It’s a perfect demonstration of not being challenged enough, and reminds me a lot of my own first few years of school. Boring repetition of stuff I already understood years ago.

    When our new teacher asked us “how many books have you read” at age 12, he really did not believe me when I offered something close to a hundred and told me I’m a liar. I think I proceeded to list them.

    1. Robyrt says:

      Hehe, this is basically how I got through elementary school. Pizza Hut used to give you free pizza if you read a certain number of books over the summer, so I burned through maybe 20 a month to fill out as many of those things as possible.

      And that’s when I learned that students will do anything for free pizza. :-P

      1. Falcon says:

        Oh man I loved those challenges. The bar was so low I artificially raised it. I remember walking around with the unabriged versions of White Fang and Sherlock Holmes as a forth grader. Comared to my classmates all reading the R L Stein books, I didn’t understand why no one else was reading the books like me. They seemed like cheating to me ‘that’s not a book, it’s only got like 100 pages’.

        Did I mention I was also a social outcast? I’m sure these two were unrelated.

      2. burningdragoon says:

        Wow… I would have read sooooo much more in school if I had that as motivation. I would read soooo much more now if I had that as motivation. Now I need to find a Pizza Hut that does that for 20-somethings…

        1. Mari says:

          Or spawn some progeny and force them to work like little book-reading slaves to feed your insatiable pizza hunger.

          Errr – not that I’ve ever stolen my kids’ Book-It vouchers. It was just a passing idea based on the notion that one of the main functions of offspring is to be slave labor for their progenitors.

    2. swenson says:

      I’m fairly certain my teachers never quite knew what to do about all the books I’d read. We did Accelerated Readers in elementary and middle school (for the unindoctrinated, you read books and take a little quiz over it, and then get points if you pass it. The harder/longer the book, the more points you get), and in fifth grade we all had a little name card taped to the wall under the right category for how many points we had. As I recall, they had to add a few extra categories on for my card!

      What always annoyed me in school, though, was how teachers kept wanting me to quit reading and pay attention. Hello, are you as interesting as my book here? No, you are not. So shut up and let me read my book, I’ll figure out science in my own time.

      1. Scott (Duneyrr) says:

        I vaguely remember doing something like this in school… it may have been later – around middle-school – but I distinctly remember reading Moby Dick, Anna Karenina, and Le Mort d’Arthur (the last one was exceedingly difficult) and having the responsible teacher NOT mark them because she didn’t believe I could read them on top of the others I was reading in such a short period of time.
        I still ended up reading far more than anyone else in my grade.

        1. MintSkittle says:

          We did book reports, picking a book from a teacher sanctioned list. It also had to be a book that wasn’t picked yet, so you didn’t overlap with another student’s choice. We had to read the book, summarize it chapter by chapter, create a poster or diorama depicting a scene from the book, and give a short presentation in front of the class on why we (supposedly) liked said book. This caused me to loathe reading for many years.

      2. Mari says:

        I’m fond of the AR program but I really hate how some schools (such as the one my kids attend(ed)) implement it. See, the book quizzes are available to all schools but it’s up to each school to determine how to run the program. My kids’ school chose to only *allow* students to read books from specific “grade appropriate” reading levels for AR points. In spite of the fact that the school was aware both kids were reading on a high school or college level, they were still only allowed to read the 4th grade AR books available in the school library. Their names are engraved on plaques that line the school halls for having the most AR points *every year of elementary school* because they read every single book they were allowed to read, then ran out by the end of the first semester and spent the rest of the year actually reading for fun. I fail to see the logic in this plan because it teaches my kids to A) separate pleasure reading into “have to” and “want to” and B) encourages them to “play dumb” to fit in.

        1. Methermeneus says:

          This reminds me of my school 4th-6th grade. They had their own version of an AR program, though I think it’s one they made up themselves. It wasn’t broken in quite the same way as the one you describe, but it was still definitely broken; I probably read as much as my entire grade combined, but I never had a lot of points for three reasons:

          1. Points for given books seemed highly arbitrary. The Hobbit was worth six points, whereas Little Women was the legendary nineteen-point book. I think The Hobbit was the most points I got for a single book (I found Little Women and the runner up, Heidi for sixteen points, boring at the time).

          2. Points were only given for books in the school library with points stickers on them. (R. L. Stein books weren’t given stickers to encourage kids to read other things; I am convinced to this day that it merely discouraged kids from reading at all.) When I, for instance, read the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Prydain Chronicles, The Lightbearer, and Cyrano de Bergerac in fourth grade (examples for maturity level and length (The Lightbearer was my first 1,000+ page book, if you don’t count Lord of the Rings as one long book)), I got no points because I had to get all of those from home or the municipal library. Oh, by the way, I started that school halfway through fourth grade.

          3. Once you got something with your points, you had spent them. I didn’t care about my grades, so rather than saving up for, say, extra credit or an auto-pass on an assignment, I just got some candy as soon as I had the ten points for it. I don’t think I ever went above twenty points, even though I’m pretty sure I racked up a total of ninety one year. (The highest end-of-year total was this one girl who made it to sixty points by reading the highest-point books she could (I think Little Women took her a month) and never spending the points on anything.)

        2. Heron says:

          I ended up with this problem. Through middle and high school, and even during college, I hated reading things I was assigned to read. I read tons of books for fun, but the easiest way to make me lose interest in a book was to tell me I was required to read it. (It didn’t even matter whether I’d be tested on it afterward.)

          1. Stormkitten says:

            Me too. I remember, in Middle school, I’d be sent to the school library during reading classes, because I was so far ahead of everyone else. I loved reading. Then High school English classes put me off.

        3. Timelady says:

          I remember being thrown in some “experimental” advanced reading group in first grade–apparently if someone started school already reading chapter books, they had absolutely no clue what to do with you. So every morning, in the middle of the teacher’s lesson, she would look at the clock, tell me–well, tell the class, really–it was time for me to go, and I would walk out in front of the rest of the class to the library, where I would then have to write book reports about what I’d read in the last week with a bunch of other kids I barely knew. I may have had to read them out loud to said group, as well. Sounds like the perfect way to get kids into reading, doesn’t it?

          Oddly enough, this was the only time in my years at that school when we were allowed to check out books from that library. I guess they didn’t want the books circulating too much or something.

          1. Warstrike says:

            My father – who taught biology in the next building – couldn’t get the elementary librarian to let me out of the kindergarten books section even though I could read Little House books when I started kindergarten. When we went to the library we were stuck in this small enclosed section while I got to look at this huge room full of interesting-looking books. I was pretty (overly) compliant and respectful of The Rules, so it probably didn’t bother me as much as it did them :)

        4. Warstrike says:

          One of the schools in my area uses AR. Some friends had an advanced reader who blew through the early levels, etc. their response was to ramp up the required points to such an extreme level that by the end of the year the girl ended up being forced to come in for hours after school to meet her required AR goal. All I can say to that is WTF.

    3. Friend of Dragons says:

      I remember in my third grade there was some system where we were supposed to hand in notecards or something to keep track of what book we were reading. I barely touched mine because I didn’t feel like updating it every couple days. My teacher nagged me about it a little, but didn’t make a big deal out of it. I think she knew where I was coming from.

    4. SolkaTruesilver says:

      Ahh… memory: Kindergarden. I leave the class pretty loudly while running, and when I got to the autobus, a teacher took me and brough me in front of her whole class. She wanted to make me guilty about disturbing her class, saying they were learning how to count.

      Quick look at the blackboard –> “25, 26, 27…”

      Teacher: “And you, Remi, how high can you count?”
      Remi: “300”

      Grade 1 Students: 0_0

      Yhea.. I think I was an accidental smartass…

    5. lazlo says:

      They never disbelieved me about how much I read, probably because for a while I carried around a collection of Shakespear’s plays… I remember making one of my teachers turn bright red when I asked him “Just curious, but here in Macbeth, when it says ‘But screw your courage to the sticking place’, does that sound kind of *wrong* to you?”

      Though I do recall a very innocuous assignment from when I was in a pretty low grade… they asked me to count the number of chairs in my house. Well, at the time, we were renting out a few rooms in what had, a century ago, been a large plantation house and was now owned by a woman who had what I’ve since come to understand was a hoarding issue. Like, the house had what we lovingly referred to as The Bed Room (as distinguished from just “a” bedroom). It was around a 20×20 room stacked wall-to-wall 6 feet deep in nothing but mattresses. Other rooms had other furniture. So when I came back to the teacher with a chair count near 100, she called BS. If only that had been in the era of ubiquitous digital cameras…

    6. Sem says:

      Well, in my case, the teachers did believe me. Between ages 7 – 16 reading was my only hobby so I was being seen doing it all the time. However, I almost exclusively read SF & Fantasy. That made for pretty funny reactions of the new language teacher every year. They knew I read a lot of books so they were excited to have at least one kid in class that wants to read. When I said that it was SF & Fantasy only, you practically saw their enthusiasm drain away because SF & Fantasy are not ‘true literature’. The only exception was the teacher in the last year of high school who allowed me to read the first book of the Lord of the Rings.

  18. Destrustor says:

    Well at least it wasn’t a pharmacological DOUBLE RAINBOW.

    so bright and so vivid.
    oh my god.
    so intense (with echo)

    Yeah please ignore me.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      Woah, that’s a full rainbow, all the way! It’s starting to even look like a triple rainbow!
      What does this mean?

  19. Mari says:

    I remember the pharmacological rainbow. In 8th grade I once counted my daily intake of pills. 21 of the suckers going down my gullet daily. Some in the morning, some in the evening. A few at mid-day. There were blue ones and purple ones and white ones and a blue-green one and tan ones and one that had little multi-colored balls inside a clear capsule. Medicines to boost my mood. Medicines to hold it there. Medicines to calm my nerves and medicines to dull my pain. Medicines to counteract the side effects of other medicines. Medicines for asthma and for allergies and medicines for indigestion and reflux. Medicines to regulate my hormones and my neuro-transmitters. I actually don’t remember a lot of middle school or early high school thanks to the pretty, pretty pills so I have no idea why I remember counting them and how many there were.

  20. Corsair says:

    So Shamus, do you still wear green dress socks and polyester pants?

    1. Scott (Duneyrr) says:

      Forever.

  21. BenD says:

    It’s only at this point that I pause to wonder how Patrick got such a normal name? XD

    1. Rick C says:

      Patrick’s every bit as good an Irish name as Shamus, that’s why.

      1. Kacky Snorgle says:

        The trouble with being American is that I can never remember which names go with which nationalities. They all sound American to me….

  22. Meredith says:

    I love the part where you buy the ugly clothes on purpose because screw everyone else. That’s a pretty mature stand for an eight or nine year old to take, even if you didn’t really understand it till later.

    I’m also impressed you could manage to many pills so young. I think I was in high school till I mastered that one and college or later till I really got good at it. Liquid medicine is gross! My parents used to have to mix juice into my allergy muck to get me to drink it and even then it was awful.

    1. Shamus says:

      Once, I accidentally bit one of the pills. It was the smallest. A tiny green thing. The taste was bitter beyond anything I could ever have imagined was possible. It was on my tongue for less than a second, and I thought I was going to vomit. I rinsed my mouth out, drank juice, ate food, and nothing could purge the taste. A day later and I wasn’t sure if I was still tasting it, or just remembering.

      1. Heron says:

        For a while I had to take some pill that had a terrible taste like that, and I didn’t even have to bite it – if it was wet for more than a few seconds, it’d start spreading through my whole mouth. Worse, I can’t dry-swallow pills.

        It’s even worse when the pill gets stuck in your throat because you’re terrible at swallowing pills in the first place… that taste can take days to go away.

  23. RCTrucker7 says:

    Hey Shamus, just had a quick question. Your dad’s name was James, and he went by Jim. Your brothers name was Pat. Your mothers name is Sharon.

    James
    Pat
    Sharon

    So, where\how did the name “Shamus” come into play for you?

    BTW, no offense or making fun of you\your name is intended.

    1. Shamus says:

      Shamus is Irish for James, and this was dad’s way of naming me after himself. Mom’s claim is that he had little (or no) Irish ancestry, but he liked to pass himself off as an Irishman. Hence “Shamus” and “Patrick”.

      1. Ben says:

        That explains the non-traditional (and to an Irish-decent person, “incorrect”) spelling :)

    2. Lalaland says:

      Interesting, the Irish spelling is ‘Seamus’ and it’s pronounced the same way. It seems that a lot of Irish names get Anglicised when they arrive in the states, for example Owen = Eoin, Shaun = Sean. And then there are the ones that defy syllable by syllable pronunciation like Aine (‘Awe-nya’), Ciaran (‘Keer-awn’), Orlagh (‘Or-LA’), Caoimhe(‘Kee-va’).

      It was great fun for a lot of my mates when they wore their name tags when working tables take my friend Eoin Kierans (Owen Keer-ans). He had every pronunciation under the sun from “Yoin Ky-rans” to “Eon Keeeruns”. Of course I’m mocking from a position of knowing how to pronounce them, Lord knows what kind of mess I’m making of my favourite Asian actors.

      1. Jeff says:

        Given that Chinese names tend to be phonetically transcribed, it won’t be too bad.

        Bollywood, I’d have no idea about.

  24. X2-Eliah says:

    It’s kinda amazing how similar you look in your now-picture on the top corner above this entry, and in your then-picture right below that.. Like.. VERY similar.

    Also.. epic uncle. Makes me regret a bit that we didn’t really have halloween / trick’n’treating tradition where I lived as a kid.

    It’s a bit uncanny that you remember so much of your childhood, especially in such detail, though. For me & my being a wee kid.. heck, it’s been maybe half the time compared to you, but I already can’t remember even quarter as much as you’ve written about. Then again, when I remember most of the stuff, it tends to be the worst – somehow I just can’t seem to recall the good moments. :(

  25. Maryam says:

    I remember exactly one time I picked out clothes because all the other kids in my class were wearing them. I asked my mom for a pair of Converse high-top shoes, and I think she got them for me because she was happy I was showing some signs of socializing in a “normal” way, even if that meant caring about peer pressure. Honestly though, I just thought it would be cool if we all matched. I didn’t care what the other kids thought of me for having them.

    We wore uniforms too (so after coordinating shoes, we really did match). This was right up my alley. I didn’t have to decide what to wear every day. I don’t even think I changed when I got home from school. Weekends were harder when I did have to decide. Even today I have a bunch of shirts and pants that all go with each other so I can just pick one off the top of the pile for each and not clash terribly.

    1. Methermeneus says:

      Every school I’ve been in since fourth grade had discussions and referenda (polling both students and parents) about uniforms at one point or another. I voted in favor of uniforms every time. Like you, I liked the idea of not having to worry about what to wear on any given day. I also always liked formal clothing, and I was not as brave as Shamus to wear slacks in a school where everyone wore jeans, whereas I knew uniforms tended to be a slacks-and-ties affair. One year, instead of a referendum, the students were given the prompt of arguing for or against school uniforms in a writing sample. (I like to think I acquitted myself fairly well.) Unfortunately, none of those schools ever did adopt uniforms.

      I will admit that, even back then, I may also have been at least somewhat swayed by the idea of all the girls in skirted uniforms as well. ;p Ah well. At least my crush wore bicycle shorts in gym.

      1. Maryam says:

        Now see, if we had had to wear skirts, I would have had a whole different view on uniforms. Horrid free-movement-impairing things — you always have to be careful of how you move and present yourself when you’re wearing one. Fortunately, although I did own one uniform skirt, we had the option of wearing shorts or pants, which I always did. I seem to recall all the other girls did too. I don’t remember seeing anyone wear the skirt.

        Our uniforms weren’t anything too formal. We just had white polo shirts with the name of the school on them and navy blue slacks/shorts/skirts.

        1. Methermeneus says:

          Hey, still more formal than jeans and t-shirts. I didn’t get my fill of polo shirts until I had two jobs with a grand total of seven years in which I was required to wear them. (Didn’t help that the first had me working as basically a line cook in a white shirt. Bad idea, even with an apron.

        2. Tetris says:

          As somebody who regularly and voluntarily wears skirts, I’d like to point out that they don’t have to impair movement. My favorite kind is wider than my length of stride, and about mid-calf length – long enough that I don’t have to worry about sitting down, but short enough that I don’t have to worry about walking. Totally comfortable and practical. The only thing I can do in pants but not in skirts is climbing, which I usually don’t do anyway.

          Granted, formal skirts (like school uniform skirts) are usually short enough that sitting becomes an issue. Plus suddenly pantyhose becomes required. Now pantyhose, _that’s_ horrid!

          1. Maryam says:

            I wore my uniforms in 4th through 6th grade, an age when I was still climbing on playground equipment every recess. A uniform skirt would have been a big impairment. I admit that nowadays I’ll choose to wear a skirt for a rare nice occasion, but that’s my choice and I choose to deal with any issues that pop up (I still haven’t figured out where to keep my wallet). But back then, I would have hated to have to wear one every day, both from the diminished outdoors activities and from the lack of freedom of choice.

            I agree with you though: pantyhose are much worse than skirts. Ugh!

      2. burningdragoon says:

        I remember a “just because” kind of discussion about uniforms my senior year of high school. I think it was during psychology class. I was happy to remain uniform free because we already had a somewhat strict dress code for guys and I really hate having to wear a tie. One of the girls brought skirted uniforms and I was like “yeah you know what, uniforms are a good idea”

        1. Mike says:

          In history class my sophomore year of high school my class had an off topic discussion about uniforms close to the beginning of the year. It was pretty lively and at one point a student challenged the teacher to wear the same thing every day for a week. She accepted the challenge and eventually got around to completing it, but that day I was wearing a grey t-shirt and blue jeans. From then until the end of the year every day I had history I wore a grey t-shirt and blue jeans (we were on block schedule, so that was every other day).

          The last day of school I approached the teacher and asked her if she’d noticed anything odd about my dress. She hadn’t. So far as I can tell only one person in the entire school realized that I’d worn the same outfit to school every other day (someone from my English class, on the same schedule).

          Out of habit (and an attempt to figure out how long I could go) I ended up continuing the trend until my Senior year of college, ~6.5 years later. Yeah, I’m pretty stubborn.

          1. Veloxyll says:

            Those clothes must’ve been pretty durable!

            1. Mike says:

              I had multiple copies. Grey t-shirts and blue jeans are not hard to come by.

  26. Methermeneus says:

    You had an amazing amount of integrity as a kid; I don’t think I could have deliberately gone against what everyone else was doing as a social protest. (Not that I did what everyone else was doing, but it was more social apathy than social protest.) Heck, I don’t think I would even have thought of the concept of social rebellion until high school.

    The adjective thing was awesome. I wonder if the teacher started to realize that maybe you just didn’t learn the same way as everyone else or if she just thought it was a fluke? If I had a third grader shoot that sentence at me as an off-the-cuff example of adjective use, I’d be wondering why he wasn’t in an advanced class.

    Also, as everyone in the first comment thread has said, best uncle ever. That’s dedication to your family’s happiness, right there.

  27. Vect says:

    I think when I was much younger my mother told me about not wearing colors that don’t match. At some point in my life I think she just stopped caring.

    Never had much of a fashion sense myself. I’m a “Grab whatever fits” kinda guy. This led to an awkward situation where I went into class and when I took off my coat everyone was laughing and the teacher was facepalming. Turns out I was wearing a marijuana leaf t-shirt (something my mom got. She’s fond of getting me shirts since she thinks it’ll be funny).

    While I always got pretty average-low grades teachers usually added in something about “being fun to have in class” in reports.

    I always thought that those types of allergies were the kind that shows exaggerate to mock nerds. Now I know better.

    1. Mari says:

      I learned that I have to be very, very careful about telling my kids stuff like, “Don’t wear colors that don’t match.” One kid looked like she had been assaulted by a color-blind clown all the time when she started picking her own clothes. After a few times of mentioning to her about avoiding clothes that clash badly she went the total other direction. She won’t even wear certain BLACK shirts with certain other BLACK pants because the blacks aren’t *exactly* the same.

  28. Ravens Cry says:

    You probably don’t want to here this, but you look in these pictures like my aunt at that age, Shamus.
    Who, interestingly enough, has a son named Shamus.

  29. SoldierHawk says:

    Can I just say how very much I am enjoying these? And I completely didn’t expect too. Your writing style and chosen subjects have me riveted, though–I can’t wait for more!

  30. asterismW says:

    When I was in elementary school I had a pair of pink and white and a pair of black and white saddle shoes. I sometimes wore one pink and one black shoe. I wasn’t trying to be non-conformist; I just thought it was cool (hey, it was the eighties. Sideways ponytails and plastic shirt buckles were cool too). I did the same with two pairs of Keds, one purple, one white, both decorated with fabric paint. I think part of me was hoping to start a fashion trend, but it never caught on with anyone else.

    1. Mari says:

      Uh, yeah it did. Maybe not in your area but we ALL wore mismatched Keds at my school in the 80s. Sometimes we even did really weird stuff like one yellow shoe, one red shoe, one yellow sock (on the foot with the red shoe) and one red sock (vice versa). From now on I’m going to blame you personally for starting that fad even though I don’t know you from Adam ;-P

      1. asterismW says:

        Well, it’s nice to know I started a fashion trend somewhere. :)

        I used to do the sock thing too, except for me it was a black sock over a white sock on one foot, and a white sock over a black sock on the other foot.

  31. Blake says:

    I had the same experiences with clothes, right down to the not changing for anybody.

    Also I’m pretty certain I’d huff on my asthma way more than I was told. Sometimes nobody would be looking and I’d just suck down 5 or 6 puffs and be back for more soon after!
    I think the ventolin must’ve had some sort of enjoyable quality to it.

  32. JPH says:

    “I'm going to wear what I like, and I've decided what I like is brown polyester pants and green dress socks. Forever. Because screw those kids. They suck.”

    I know you basically did what you did out of stubbornness, but still, I’ve always admired the people who can do whatever they like in the face of ridicule. That’s pretty gutsy. I’ve always had a bit of a tendency to cave under pressure and do what pleases people, especially when I was a kid.

  33. potemkin.hr says:

    1. You have extraordinary memory to boot if you remember specific sentences from like ~30+ years ago. I can’t remember most of my childhood, I remember like 30% of the friends from elementary, but almost everyone from high school, and I’m only 23 years old. I have a problem for remembering people’s names, and tend to forget easily them if I don’t communicate for extended periods of time. When I hit 40, the way things are going i’ll forget everything :(
    2. I too never cared much for grades, I’ve mostly gotten around with a solid C, sometimes a B (Too much work involved for an A). Currently finishing college and I can say that I saved myself from loads of stress and headaches by not caring too much.

    1. Shamus says:

      To be fair, I doubt that is the exact same sentence, word-for-word. I know it was about corn cooking on a grill, and I know I packed it with adjectives, but I can’t remember if it was past or present tense, or if the sentence said “ears of corn” or simply “corn”. I am filling in details, just to make this readable.

      And obviously I remember this sentence because this was a unique moment in third grade, when I stunned the teacher. It’s not like I remember EVERY assignment. :)

  34. Mthecheddar knight says:

    Your childhood is incredibly similar to mine. Except yours was thirty years before mine.

  35. We think you should take your pills in the morning so that you can go to Halloween at night.

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