When I grew up, I wanted to direct the TV news. There was a technical school, not a half an hour from where I lived, where I could learn how to run a TV camera and a mixing board. I could live at home, and I wouldn’t even have to give up my girlfriend. And, when I was done, I’d go to the big city, get a job at a big TV station, and work my way up. I’d do important stuff, I’d get to speak to schoolkids and ladies groups all the time, I’d win Emmys, and maybe I’d even get to be in a local car commercial or two. I didn’t even think about the big time — local TV news was what I really, really wanted.
But in the fall of ’82, I took the ACTs and SATs, and I posted great big numbers. So the principal and the guidance counselors and my teachers asked me breathlessly, “What do you want to be?” I told them about the camera thing, and they said, “Oh, no, no, no, no, no! That’s much to trivial for someone like you! You need to do something great! You need to be a lawyer or a doctor, not just some guy behind a camera!”
Before long, my big test numbers attracted mail from colleges. With numbers like mine, they said, I could probably go to their school for free, study just about anything, and bestride the academic world like a colossus. I must say, I loved the attention. And if I went to tech school first, the big scholarship offers probably wouldn’t be there for me later, which as kind of dumb, since I wasn’t going to be LESS smart at 20 or 25 than I was at 18. That’s what’s funny — who really knows what they want to do with the rest of their lives when they’re still a teenager? Still, we are expected to decide, and as fall faded into winter, my resolve weakened.
If I did go for the college dream, what would it look like? One thinks about the Ivy League schools first, I guess, and I did hear from them. Something I had hoped for in my college experience, though, was to find more people who were like me, more or less ordinary people with big memory and a talent for figuring things out, and when I thought “Ivy League,” I didn’t think that. Instead, I pictured hyper-competitive “chosen ones” who would just as soon slit your throat (metaphorically) as look at you. Then, there were the military academies. My family was acquainted with our state senator, so a nomination may have been possible for me, but there is a certain element of danger involved in taking a military education. Desert Storm happened in what would have been the last year of my hitch. I have nothing but respect for those who join the military, and if I was ever called upon to go, I would not be among those flocking to the border — I would do my duty. But as long as it’s still up to me, I think I’ll pass.
In another intriguing possibility, my family opened up discussions with my mother’s cousin, who was a newspaper editor in California. If I established residency with him, then I could go to a California school for free, and apply my scholarship money to other expenses. I’d had mail from USC and UCLA, and I could almost smell the margaritas and suntan lotion.
Then there was this little tiny private school in Terre Haute, Indiana, called Rose Hulman Institute of Technology. They sent me more mail than anyone else, and it was in the form of little comic books, describing what it was like to attend their school. I liked the idea of a small school, where I wouldn’t get lost, and it was also all male, which (I imagined) would make it easier to stay true to my sweetheart.
In the end, however, I stayed close to home and enrolled at Ohio State. My mentors were a bit disappointed that I didn’t go for the gusto, but were happy that I was going to a four-year college and studying to be an engineer, and not just a lowly technician. I can’t say that I regret my decision, because I’ve gone to some interesting places and met a lot of great people, but it’s become a dead end for me. At over 50 years old, I’ve been out of work for four and half years, and my education has actually become an impediment to my finding work.
But you know what? I still think about that camera, and that TV news floor. I don’t know how I would I would ever pay for the training, but I’ve certainly got the time. Is it too late for this faded superstar to recapture his dream?
*** Copyright 2017 by Mud Toe Sasquatch – all rights reserved