You gotta love being a part of the Internet—if you wait long enough, even the fat kid gets picked for dodgeball. So, yes, it's finally come to pass: I've been 'tagged' (by the inestimable Micah “That's Two A's” Laaker) to reveal 5 things about myself that you (yes you, you collective sweaty mass out there. All.. what, 10 of you?) don't know about me. This should be fairly easy, 'cause I suspect that—for some of you—my life is a somewhat closed book anyway. These all tend to skew toward my college-and-before days....
1. Joy Jelly
I worked for about 3 years in high school at a Long John Silvers
franchise in my hometown of Zanesville, Ohio. I was a conscientious lad and quickly rose through the ranks to attain the level of 'Seaman First Class' (read it aloud.) This fact was cause for much merriment amongst my schoolmates and friends. In fact, a sighting of my work name-tag (I still have it somewhere in the house. It begs
to be Flickr'd) was always guaranteed to incite a teenage chuckle-fest.
2. String Man
There exist a very small tribe of people on this Earth who, to this day, refer to me by my obscure high-school nickname. “String Man” or String
for short. This nickname stayed obscure because it made no sense to anyone (least of all me) but if you want to know the etymology, it is this.
My friend Brad was a prolific nick-namer in high-school and he wanted to give me one. It started simple, being based on my name 'Glass.' It started as 'Glass-man.' I said he was prolific, I didn't say he was necessarily gifted.
But if Brad does have a gift, it's dogged persistence, so he kept on trying. In the span of about 1 week Brad ran through permutation after permutation: Glass-man begat G-Man begat G-String (that afternoon was an awkward and sexually-confused one for both of us) which (quickly and nervously) begat String-man. Somehow that one stuck.
I see Brad about once every 18 months or so (he lives far away) and—of course—I'm still 'String.' It makes my wife chuckle but… truthfully? I kinda like it. But don't call me that.
3. Oh Snap
Since I seem to be stuck in high-school, I should probably confess something. I was a bit of an asshole then. (THEN.) In my
mind, I was a clowning good-natured tease, but I've since come to learn that my special brand of humorous attention wasn't always received as light-hearted fun. On more than one occasion, I think some feelings were hurt. Here's my favorite such occasion…
A girl in my class, “T”, was usually a nimble adversary in the verbal quipping department. Perhaps not as quick with a joke as myself, but boy would she speak her mind. So T was usually kinda fun to poke fun at 'cause she'd give you hell, everyone would laugh and that would be the end of it. No harm, no foul.
We were in study hall (in our gym—for some reason we had study hall in the gym that year, sitting on the bleachers. As you can imagine, very little studying gets done when your only viable writing surface is your own knees.) T was sitting at a distance and—I'm not even sure what transpired, really. I think someone spilled a soda on her? Or made a menacing move toward her with a piece of candy-bar. But she loudly admonished the offender with “Do you have any idea how much these jeans cost?”
My own (louder) retort was “Why? Did they charge you by the yard?” A smattering of laughter from the crowd.
I swear to God, I just expected a retaliatory bird-flip. Or maybe even an arm-punch. Not stony silence followed by T's tear-choked retreat from the gym. Oopsy... I still feel like a bit of an ass about that one.
Okay, maybe this will cast me in a better light. I was a National Merit Scholar
for the year of 1989. This sole fact probably did more to set the direction of my life than any other thing you might learn about me.
By virtue of winning that award, I was eligible for a full academic scholarship to a couple of different schools. I chose Bowling Green, here in Ohio. (The only downside was that I had to live on-campus all
four five years that I was there.) My father later 'confessed' to me (this was hardly news) that he was glad I won because “there was no way you'd've gotten to college otherwise.” (Reminder to self: research Section 529 plans for our unborn son.)
At the time, I never really felt all that.. um, merit-ful about winning the competition. I didn't really feel like I'd earned it because the way that National Merit scholars are determined is this: all across America, on some day in October, high school juniors take the PSAT test—the Pre-SAT.
It's like a test-run for the SATs. I vaguely remember taking that test (I do remember that I typically did well on standardized tests—I enjoyed them, if you can believe that, and I was certainly a demographic match for the white-male-skewed nature of most of them.) So I took the test in our cafeteria and 2 or 3 months later was called to the office and.. basically.. told 'Hey! You're gonna have a future!' I hadn't even known that the test entered me in the competition. In fact, if I'd had to actually apply on my own, I probably would've blown it off or somehow screwed it up.
There was a little bit more involved—some essay and an application to weed out Semifinalists from Finalists. But one of the greatest things that I ever achieved in my young life was mostly something I fell ass-backward into.
I want to end on a short one. I can't swim, and never could. This is only one
reason (albeit a big one) why I never go anywhere near a beach.
And now I am honor-bound to tag 5 more people who must share their deepest, inner-most secrets. Which may actually be the most difficult part of this assignment. Awright, who's left on the Internet who hasn't been tagged... I call my brother Brian; my favorite bleeding heart homo, Erik; Rob Duffy (yeah, I know you shuttered your blog -- tough shit. Send 'em to me and I'll publish 'em); Um... list is getting thin. Head hurting... Okay... how about comics-lover, dog-lover, new father and all-around me-doppelganger Dan Brown; and finally... Bad-ass IA (and fellow BGSU grad) Keith Instone!! Rawk.