Still working on stuff, so I present another expert from the same story that gave birth to While I Was Working #48: Crushing Defeat
I don’t pride myself on much. In fact there are really only two things that I can think of, and that’s rather low isn’t it? Considering how much of an arrogant bastard I am, there should be lots of things ranging from the ease of which I get up in the morning all the way to the carefree way I go to sleep at night. (And while I really am pretty great at both of those things, they’re still not something I give myself credit for. That’s thanks to god and a glass of warm milk.) But that’s not the case. The truth is I can afford to hate the entire rest of my being—and I do—because I put so much stock in those two things. And that probably explains everything about my life and the state it’s in.
The first is the “Best Vocabulary” Award I got in the fifth grade. I have this hanging above my bed in my ridiculously cramped apartment, and most girlfriends assume that it’s there ironically—some sort of joke on grade school or something. This is why I’m not married. I had the best goddamn vocabulary in the whole fifth grade class of Garfield Elementary School goddamn it, and the whole world should know.
Maybe this shouldn’t be as important as it is. After all, I did kind of give myself the award. See what was supposed to happen was that every one in the fifth grade class was supposed to get some sort of superlative in the yearbook, as voted by their peers. “Best Dressed”, “Class Clown”, that sort of thing, you know. The person winning didn’t have to be the one with the most votes as no one was allowed to win more than one award. (This is good, as one person—Marco Murray—would have swept most of the major awards, including “Most Likely to Succeed.” He is currently employed as a bellhop at a Hilton in Bakersfield, California. In retrospect, this is entirely predictable.)
I didn’t appear on a single ballot. Other than my own of course, but that’s obvious isn’t it? I had played it safe, going with the category I felt I had the best chance with—“Best Me I Can Be”—which was there for the person with the most off putting personality, in the theory that this person would be the one who caved to the littlest amount of peer pressure and outside influence, thus being the best “Me” they could possibly be. But one vote can hardly win, and since my vote was in the category full of outcasts who didn’t get many votes, they could hardly just give it to me.
The teachers didn’t know what to do in this situation—it had never happened before, there wasn’t an explicit rule stating that every student had to have a superlative, and there were more supposed to be more categories then students anyway. But there weren’t that year, and for a little while the teachers were scrambling for a solution, worrying that just putting me in some random category would tip the students—who obviously must have banded together to exclude me in a fit of Nixonian behavior—to the fact that their votes had no meaning. 10 years old is a little young to be robbed of your faith in democracy.
Eventually it came to talk of respecting the student’s wishes and leaving me out, and praying that I would somehow not notice this little fact. That’s when Mr. McAlister, a social studies teacher who was about the only one who ate their lunches in the teacher’s lounge and still liked me, called me into the office and explained the whole deal. He explained that he “got” me, and that I would likely have a hard time in life, and that the least this school could do was let me pick what be said about me in the yearbook. He asked me what I wanted and after two seconds I responded with Best Vocabulary. He just nodded. I really did have a good vocabulary.
Nobody ever noticed that category wasn’t one included in the original ballot and come graduation Mr. McAlister presented me with a certificate to immortalize it. This certificate has hung above my bed ever since, and if there’s ever a fire in my ridiculously cramped apartment that would be the thing I run in to pull out. I’ve always been very tempted to seek out Mr. McAlister, as he really did seem to understand me, which is a feat I have never been able to properly manage. I want to know what he thinks of my life now, and what advice he could give me to improve it. But then, he was an elementary school teacher, so he probably made more than a few mistakes in life himself.
See, that’s exactly the sort of asshole thing to say that Mr. McAlister would get me to curb.
The second thing I take pride in is course my exceptional skill as a lover.