Married,moved,and getting it together.

Anniversary of The April Fool

On the April Fool’s after my eighteenth birthday, I got caught being a fool.

So that was 1988. That’s 18 years again since the event. So I’m twice as old now as I was then. Maybe twice as wise. Maybe even 18 times as wise.

Part of living an authentic life is being able to look at ones faults, and where one has wronged others. And I think yesterday and today one of the things on my mind is this particular 18-year old event. I won’t belabor it, or detail it too closely. Maybe next year. Since the event occurred, I have never directly apologized to the person who was on the receiving end of my disordered thinking. I’m not sure I’ll ever get a chance to.

There was a chance meeting many years ago, but we were in a group of friends, and that would not have been the time. It was an excruciating, scary moment.

I don’t want to go into details, but I somehow feel I need to get into some of the details of it or else you’re all going to think — well, I don’t know — but I’m unafraid cautious about detailing it all. For years I would talk to nobody about it, and I carried it around as a cross, a sackcloth, burning into my skin.

It still pricks at my conscience, but mostly as to the inability to make amends more than anything else. In 12-Step programs they talk about making amends except where to do so would calse even more pain. Not knowing this person anymore, I don’t know if it’s possible.

The short version of the story is that I became obsessed with the idea of a relationship with a certain other person. This idea was wonderful and terrifying. I, as a young man of 16 / 17, was unable to express my own heart in a way that was unafraid. So I did not. Instead, I began anonymously leaving notes for this person. Cryptic notes, what I thought might be romantic notes. Yes, unsigned. I left them on her car, I left them anywhere she went. I left them stealthily.

I thought I was the cleverest thing since Cyrano de Bergerac. I had no idea how it would be resolved, but I thought “this is what people do, they are romantic and they are interesting.”
I was not, and I ended up terrifying this girl, and her family. And it all culminated in the back of a squad car with me in handcuffs. I was not arrested, just scared to death by the police officers who claimed that I’d get “a new boyfriend” if I did this ever again. Sobbing in a squad car.

This was not the romantic ending I forsaw. It was a pathetic outcome, and was my first taste of how wrong I could be about something.

It was April Fool’s Day. And I was indeed an April Fool. This was no joke.

The political bloggers talk about “the reality-based community.” Well, my teenage self was certainly not a member of that. I was in a world of fantasy then. I think it’s taken until this year for me to really come to grips with what it means to live not in fantasy, but in reality. This year I became a grown-up, and it’s been a difficult slog. But it’s been worthwhile because I have had a taste of Grace with a capital “G.”

Somehow, life is a blessing, and not sackcloth.

I am a blessed man. Check out that picture.

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m here to tell you that the truth shall set you free.

Thanks for listening.

Joe. 02/April/2006.

seven comments so far...

I’m sorry your good intentions went awry. That can be feel even worse that intending to do wrong in the first place.

One of my all-time favorite concepts is one I learned from Leah: the Friend Poll. There have been times in my life when I desperately needed to take a friend poll. To have someone tell me (gently or otherwise) that I was waaay out of whack. That I didn’t have a street address in the reality-based community.

That big debate on Dooce the other day, about “crying it out”? Some of those mamas could have used a friend poll.

We all could’ve used a friend poll when we were 16/17 years old. Either we didn’t have friends who would be that direct with us, or we didn’t know we needed to say those magic words, “Do you think this is a good idea?” But then you suffer humiliation or hurt and boy is that a powerful lesson.

The good thing is that once you learn why & when to take a friend poll, it sticks with you. Joe, you’re a grown-up with a good sense of what’s right and wrong and a solid support network of clear-thinking people who will give you an honest opinion in case you’re not sure. That’s nine-tenths of the battle, buddy 🙂

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