I must have been in high school, but I can’t remember how old I was. Still, I was at least fourteen, so maybe twenty years ago thereabouts. Mom and Dad attended parent/teacher conferences, something I was never really nervous about because, overall, I was a decent student. Somewhat given to distraction and sometimes to disruptive behavior(1), I brought home high marks in just about everything, though never consistently the highest marks. The number-one thing, frequency-wise, that my teachers told my parents was that I didn’t work to my potential. But I didn’t do drugs or get in fights, so overall, parent/teacher conferences were nothing for me to concern myself with.
This particular conference they spent a fair amount of time talking to my band-instructor. Mr. Myers was easily the teacher who had the most influence upon me. I was in band and choir, signed up for any and all types of band offered, and spent most of my study halls in the band room helping him clean or prepare or otherwise teaching myself to play piano, tuba, flute, bass guitar or anything I could get my hands on.(2)
So when my parents came home and I asked how it went, Mom said, ‘No one said anything out of the ordinary except for Mr. Myers.’
‘What did he say?’ I asked.
‘He said that you’re a brilliant musician, that you understand music better than anyone he’s taught. He said you could do just about anything you wanted if you just applied yourself.’
I smiled. ‘Wow. That’s really nice of him to say.’
‘Yeah,’ Mom said. ‘Then he said that it’s too bad that you have to light a stick of dynamite under your ass to get you to do anything.’
I hate – more than I can say and more than you could know – I hate that this is still true…twenty-fucking-years later.
- I.e. stealing the school Christmas tree piece by piece, being caught in the women’s restroom with a couple of cheerleaders, covering my buddy’s locker with duct tape…typical stuff.
- Which in the end proved way more valuable to me than sitting in study hall and studying just a little bit more in order to bring home straight-As.