June 30th, 2014 § Leave a Comment

There was an essay portion of the exam. It asked for a brief summary of the last book I had read. I wrote a little something about Escape from New York by Mike McQuay, the book made more famous by its film adaptation. If the random dotting of multiple choice answers somehow didn’t do it, I insured my fate with my ramblings about the virtues of Snake Plissken. It was a lock. I slept like a baby that night.

A couple weeks later, my parents told me what I already knew. I had failed the entrance exam to the exclusive prep boarding school. They were set to pour every penny they had and every penny they were going to make to maneuver us within striking distance of one of those Ivy League Schools. The private prep school. One tour of that place was all I needed to see. Dorm rooms with random kids. Dorks walking around in pleaded trousers, ties and loafers … well, they looked dorky to me at the time. A formal dining hall. What do you think the chances were of me finding a bowl of rice and some kimchee in that joint? Exactly. Moving from West LA to the Suburbs ripped us from ourselves. This? What was this going to do us? A month in that place, we’d hardly know ourselves. Forget it. No way I was going.

Our minds were made up; we were throwing that exam.

What I didn’t realize until I saw the look in my Father’s eyes was what the failure would mean to him. All I thought about was keeping myself out of that silly place. What he had to come to terms with was that his sons were dumb. The notice of failure came with it our scores. In my eagerness to keep my feet out of the fire as it were, I had been overzealous in portraying my stupidity. Of course I couldn’t tell him I threw the exam, he’d have wrung my neck. But now that I’ve seen my own children, you know, through that rosy lens only parents have, I wish I would’ve told him I threw it. It would’ve been worth taking the lumps to give my Father the relief of knowing that his son was not an idiot.

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