When It Hit The Fan

Yesterday, I was talking about how I would deliberately miss school in the first semester of the 1988-89 school year, when I was a senior at Largo High School. I can’t mention how lucky I was to have skipped school and NOT mention what happened when my luck ran out. And take it for me, when you think you’re getting away with something, don’t push your luck, as the universe always seems to find ways to balance things out beyond what you think you can fathom.

My parents weren’t really all too concerned about my school progress. They briefly separated when I was in middle school, then did so again for a few months in 1987 before coming back together. My mother left and got an apartment in nearby Indian Rocks Beach, living with her brother (and my uncle) at the time. In the spring of 1989, my Dad had a heart attack, forcing him into retirement from working as a butcher at a small store in Redington Beach, another nearby town. I’d work with him in the summer part-time.

They really didn’t pay attention to when report cards got released, and several days would go by from the time I’d get them to the time I’d ask for them, and I’d only give it to them when they requested. I somehow learned that bad news traveled fast, so you keep it to yourself until it’s asked for.

When the second semester began in early 1989, I was doing just well enough to pass classes. When my parents asked me for my latest report card and probably saw the eight absences I had without their knowledge, I could see what was coming, and it was trouble in River City. After the ensuing lecture, I was told that from now on, when I did homework or had to study, I had to do it in public view and not in my bedroom as I had been doing.

Whatever they said worked. I made the honor roll (making all A’s and B’s, with the allowance of making a C in one class) all three grading periods in that semester. If I missed a class that half of the year, it was for something that really happened, but it happened rarely if at all. I don’t think I did as well on the end of semester exams, but by that point, I had done so well that it didn’t mathematically matter. I was going to graduate.

The lecture gave me the “shot of adrenaline” I needed to finish my scholastic career strong. It would have been a total embarrassment had I failed enough classes in my final semester not to have graduated, but I always did just well enough to squeak by up to then.

Again, I was lucky when luck was all I had. If there’s a moral of the story, it’s not to depend on luck all of the time, because if that’s all you have, it can run out on you.

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