I thought of my friend, Rafael, who recently wrote telling me it was his 34th birthday. As he said, "Twice 17".
Frank Sinatra used to sing a song that went:
It was a very good year
It was a very good year for small town girls
And soft summer nights
We’d hide from the lights
On the village green
The year I graduated from high school I was 17. My high school years were rather undistinguished to say the least. Although I was avidly interested in all kinds of sports, I only was a member of the Debate Team. As far as I could detect that didn't make a very big impression with girls, but then, nothing I did seem to impress them. Not only had I failed to maketh one lie down in green pastures, I didn't even know where any green pastures were.
When I finally did leave school I had to go to work. I didn't like that much either, especially when I discovered I needed to start paying for things myself. I still don't care for that much.
World War II was looming and when I thought of it, the uniforms were nice but I wasn't all a crazy about having someone shoot at me.
So, not being successful with girls--I guess they were called "women" by then--and not seeing myself as a roaring success in the work field, I decided I would try to be smarter than anyone else. Still being 17 years old, I enrolled in evening classes to study engineering at Northeastern University. It was just my luck to catch a calculus instructor who didn't seem to recognize my goal of being smarter than anyone else. Since the grade he gave me was no real indication of how smart I was, I repeated the course. I discovered that the second time through the course that this particular instructor was no more cognitive than he was the first time. I decided right then to disassociate myself from engineers as they obviously had no awareness of hidden talents. At least mine.
When I was 17 my life was so boring that I had a religious problem. I was a Catholic and made my confessions on a regular basis. At least I tried to but had trouble finding enough sins to confess. I used to go through all of the, "Shalt nots" and couldn't find many that pertained to my lifestyle. As an example, we had a neighbor, Mr. Fowler, and I couldn't even manage to covet his fat wife, though I tried just to have something to confess.
I even lied in the confessional once just so the next time I could confess to lying.
I think the priest in the confessional must have been frustrated. He would often say, "Is that all?”
To which I would reply, "Yes Father."
"Are you sure?"
"Are you sure you have committed no more sins?"
"Nothing? Nothing at all?" By this time he sounded incredulous.
Then there would be a big sigh, followed by the usual "Five Our Fathers and Five Hail Marys."
Sometimes there were other people waiting to confess and there were times I thought I could hear them giggling.
So, as I look back on being 17 years old, I wouldn't want to do that again for anything. Maybe it would be nice to be able to run as fast as I did when I was 17, but I would rather be my age and not have any reason to run.
I need to go put a new battery in my MP3 player before I forget and need to go through this whole thing again tomorrow.