7 Things I Learned from My 8 Greatest Teachers
Posted by James Altucher on October 16th, 2011
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Yesterday was my 25th high school reunion. I wanted to go. I had a car key and I could’ve driven there. I was close to feeling like I was going to do it. But I was feeling somewhat shy. I didn’t like high school much.
When you are rejected so much you build a tough skin. My 8 greatest teachers in life were perhaps the many girls in high school who said “no” to me when I was so desperate to go out with them. Who knows what would’ve happened to me if everything was easy then. Maybe I would not have been able to handle when things became really hard later.
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What’s your worst rejection in high school?
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That’s easy. I grew up in a NYC apartment and had huge crush on the girl who lived on my floor — Gabrielle. I’d time my exits for school to meet her to chat her up in the elevator. Ice in the winter. I’m sure I was even dorkier then. She shunned all my attempts to be polite with no explanation. Many times it was just an icy stare. Like I was <Expletive Deleted> Hannibal Lecher Lecter.
Fast forward to senior year in high school.
I had a car, a series of good paying part time jobs, a drinking problem, and a fairly lively social calendar. Hey, I had money and had no clue how to use it. The worm turned.
She needed a date for her senior prom after a bad break up with a cheating steady; who’d been her steady for all four HS years. Her Mom talked to my Mom. I was scheduled to be busy that night; prior plans. And I stuck to it.
Upon reflection, I was an ass.
I admit now (five decades later) that I could have done it for her. But payback’s a bitch. Looking back, I should have rearranged a mere “attendance at some drinking party” to save that gal’s self-image. She didn’t go to her prom and wasted all the money for it. I never looked back.
That first rejection maimed my self-confidence. And, I turned into the ISTJ I am today.
I found a beautiful young gal who’s arm I twisted to marry me. (She said “no” the first time I asked. Seriously!) And we spent 40 wonderful years before she passed. She made me a much better person than I was before I met her.
So now, I’m left with those shouldas, couldas, and wouldas! Those will kill you.
Maybe I should have taken her to the prom. I might have gotten lucky.
But then, I might have missed my soul mate.
Who can figure the “right” choices?
But I’ve never thought of those gals until now — Friday night Jane, Saturday night Virginia, Sunday Mass with Kissing Mary’s sister, and Sunday night with old what’s her name. All lost in the vestiges of time. They were nice girls to put up with my antics.
They had to know; why did they go?
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This reminds me of how my bad conduct almost messed up my relationship with the gal who eventually became Frau Reinke.
In my dogish days, I’d have several dates per week end. All with different girls.
(Yes, has hard as it is to believe, a young fat old white guy injineer at heart could have multiple gal pals. If you were polite, had money to spend, and demanded nothing other than a “wing girl” for these events, you too could lead the life. Reminds me of that “Sexless Innkeeper” episode of HIMYM!)
As a good Catholic boy, I well knew that the key to unplanned pregnancies is where you dipped you pen. No dipping; no ruined lives. (I had four aunts — three actual and one grand — who passed along that concept. And, somehow I missed the Free Love Sixties.)
So anyway, I brought my Saturday night date home and my car died outside her house. Her Dad, a Jasper, who knew I was “responsible” loaned me a spare car. So I could get home. The plan was to get my Gramps to come back on Sunday afternoon and get the bucket of bolts running.
But I had a date for Mass Sunday morning followed by breakfast with another girl.
Hmmm, at the time, I saw no “moral dilemma”.
Went on date. After date, Gramps followed my to Saturday Night’s house, he got the bucket of bolts running. All well and good.
P.S., Sold car on Monday to classmate. Bought new bucket of bolts, after Gramps’ approval, on Tuesday. So as to be ready for weekend whirlwind. Friday Red Garter with the eventual Frau Reinke, Saturday night with Daughter of Jasper. Sunday Mass with Kissing Mary. Sunday night with some other girl for some bar hopping.
When the eventually to be Frau Reinke asked about the car swap, I sort of retold the story. Now Our Girl had an exceptionally well defined “barbara streisand” — aka <synonym for male bovine excrement> — detector. Guess as a result of her bad break up. She pulled me outside the Red Garter and made me focus. (Amazing that late in the evening, I could focus.) She wanted the truth.
(This was before Jack Nicholson’s “You can’t handle the truth” soliloquy.)
Any way, she pointed out that if we were going to get serious — We are? I thought so. But I was playing it very kool — she wanted the truth. And, we could be steadies if I dumped all the other girls and stopped lying. — Who lied? I carefully told the literal truth and omitted any inconvenient “truths”. — Or, she was leaving to go home now. No, I couldn’t drive her home. And, no, I shouldn’t call any more. I was instantly sort of sober. So I caved and said “Steadies? That’s so Fifities High Schoolish!” She said: “Take it or leave it.”
I took it.
Next morning, I called all the other young ladies and cleared my calendar.
About 3PM, She called me and said “What time are you picking me up? Steadies go out on Saturday nights too. And, since your such a good Mass attender, you can now take me.” “Yes, toots. 6PM, OK?” “Fine. And, don’t call me toots.”
Funny now. But I almost blew it.
And, from time to time, I did call her “toots” just to annoy her.
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