Now don’t go crazy. I haven’t skipped a few decades or anything. I am talking about senior high school. Before I get into that, I am continuously amazed by the people I find reading my blog, and want to talk about it with me. I am positively delighted that others have found this diatribe of mine interesting, entertaining, and even useful. I am humbled.
The bullying had died down somewhat, although how much of this was due to increasing pressure to study, or my new-found ambivalence to their taunts, I’m not sure. Regardless, I enjoyed a higher sense of freedom. Even my hay-fever had started to subside a little.
During my final few years in high school, I got involved in some of the theatre productions. I know we did “Paint Your Wagon”, and I know we did maybe one or two others. I just can’t remember what they were right now. The memories of my previous production, and even the near tragic decision of a twelve-year-old, were not even at a consideration. It was almost as if they had never happened. On stage, I found a powerful passion. So it was with excitement that I told my parents.
The one thing I remember my father saying, was something to the effect of “Well, that’s all well and good, but you’ll never make a living from it.” And then variations on the theme. “It’s a great hobby, but you need to start thinking about a real job. What are you going to do after school?”
Not the most encouraging words one might offer, but it wasn’t a flat-out “Don’t do that rubbish” or “I don’t want you doing that.” These are things that I had heard other kids had been told by their parents and families. So while my father didn’t see it as a viable career, he at least saw that I was enjoying it more than anything else I had done… Except maybe Ju-Jitsu.
Taking a slight tangent here, down the Ju-Jitsu line, I recall an interesting, shall we say, altercation. Another student had taken a jealous dislike to me, for what-ever reason. I was learning that people sometimes didn’t need a reason beyond their own selfish needs. He liked to antagonise me, when the teacher wasn’t looking, but rarely did it become more than words. After some months of this, we were put together in a sparring match. I think Sensei Hans de Jong (pictured) may have planned it, but I can’t be certain.
Suffice it to say, that he tried everything he could to cause physical pain to me, yet I managed to stay ahead of him. I managed to throw him to the ground in a typical Judo like throw, he then scissor kicked my leg to bring me down also, grabbing my right foot as I fell. We were lying in a straight line, heads on opposite sides, feet overlapping, me on my side, he on his back His intention was to heel strike my groin, holding onto my foot to keep me in place. I slipped my hips back curling myself into a foetal like position and caught his foot in my arms as he struck. What’s good for the goose…
I kicked back but stopped short of following through, leaving my foot to hover for a second, just to let him know. The Sensei called the fight, and I rolled away rather pleased with myself. It all happened so quick, and was purely instinct.
After the session, I was walking down a hall towards the change rooms, a plastic bag with my belongings in my hand. In a flash, a figure ran by me, grabbed the bag, ripping it, pouring the contents onto the floor, before running off down the hall. Suddenly I was down the hall, hoisting my assailant off the floor and against a door. To this day I cannot remember how I got there! It was the student with a grudge. In a rare moment of controlled menace, I threatened him with violence if he ever tried anything again. In think he left or changed session times a short while later.
Lesson of the day, sometimes just the simple threat of violence can avoid the need for it. Man did I love Ju-Jitsu.
Plans Beyond School
So the question was, what was I going to do after school? I was about to start year 11 and I was troubled that I didn’t know. Some of the friends I had made over the years already had some great ideas, and I struggled with a subject that I would like to do, that could also be considered a real job.
I found myself among the academic elite of the school, even if at the bottom of the elite. Smaller classes in Maths II & III, Physics, Chemistry, English Literature. I struggled with Literature, finding it a little to stuffy and rigid for my liking, so switched to History in year 12.
The other students all talked about their plans. The tallest of our group, and in fact, the tallest at our school, surprised us all when he said he was going to study Pharmacy, which was in complete contrast to the demon basketball play we had been familiar with. I find it interesting in hindsight that Theatre degree was never even considered. I think back then that I wasn’t even aware that such a thing existed, and I doubt I would have been warmly received at home if I had known.
Ultimately, the decision wasn’t truly mine. I was, after a fashion, directed to choose it.
Addendum. It may seem like I am labouring on the final years of high school here, and I apologise. It was a big period of change for me, which means a lot of things to talk about… I’ll try to be a little judicious.