I sat in I stunned silence while Mr. G., my creative writing teacher, announced to the class that my true-life story had been named the winner in a kinda-sorta writing competition that had been judged by a panel of local writing experts. This was my junior year of high school. I guess I had really been on my game when I wrote it as that was the first time a piece of my writing had “won” anything. It turns out it has been the only time. I received no prize—nothing tangible, anyway—just the immense satisfaction of having a group of adult writing experts recognize and applaud my wannabe talent.
While Mr. G. was telling the class about it, my head began to swell as the shock wore off and the reality sank in. The bubble quickly burst when Mr. G. himself stuck a pin in it: “This isn’t necessarily the decision I would have made,” he said—a disavowal I’m sure was meant to soothe the offended sensibilities of the highly intelligent and the truly talented ones sitting around me—the cream of the crop of the “smart kids” at my high school. It’s not that I was a bonehead who had somehow, by clerical error, been assigned a seat with these Gifted Ones. At any rate, not that I recall. But I wasn’t one of the Gifted Ones. Mr. G. knew it, and the Gifted Ones knew it. All God’s chillun knew it.
I wish I still had a copy of that story, but few bits of memorabilia from high school have survived, which is just as well. I’m enough of a pack rat as is. You should see my home office where I’m sitting right now. On second thought, no.