Archive for February 15, 2012

Help Yourself, Pt. 6 – Chapter Two, Pt. 2 – My Rough Childhood

February 15, 2012 2 comments

Here’s the continuation of Monday’s post about how to craft an inspirational back story that will garner the sympathy of readers. It tells the saga of my life growing up in a rough neighborhood.

Have An Inspirational Back Story, continued

     Allow me to loosen the belt on my story-telling kimono, and let my tale flop out. My own path was filled with class warfare, racial tensions, and social embarrassments. To know why I am the way I am, we must traverse time and space to the 1980’s in New Ulm, Minnesota. It was during this dubious time and place in which my spirit chose to materialize from the ether. And yes, it is the New Ulm you are thinking of. If Las Vegas’s slutty sister gang-banged penal colony era Australia, the half-lit offspring would undoubtedly be New Ulm. A vile, lubed-up, stick-it-anywhere discotheque of a town where police are sometimes forced to send two, and on rare occasions three, firmly-worded overdue notices for parking tickets. Teens wear black t-shirts with logos of rock and roll bands on them. My friend’s older brother once heard about a guy tripping on marijuana just a couple blocks away from my house.

My time there began under less than desirable circumstances. The night of my birth, my parents were at a cocktail party across town, when my Mother went into labor. Making it to the hospital was out of the question – it was time to improvise. The host’s in-house governess was forced to perform the delivery – in this family’s so-called “library.” The first things I saw were paperback copies of Tom Clancy novels. Four years later my first word was “tacky.” This was only the beginning of a childhood marked by fantastic disappointment. On the night of Halloween in 1991, my family was out of town, so we left a bowl full of candy on our porch with a sign that said “Take ONE.” We returned to find the bowl empty. We knew for a fact that there had been 47 fun-size Snickers bars in that bowl. We also knew for a fact that there were only 31 youth of trick-or-treating age in the neighborhood that particular year. Treachery was afoot. We looked at our neighbors differently after that. To this day, we don’t know who robbed us that night. We added second locks on all our doors, and a coded keypad on the garage. The night before I was to begin middle school, my Father looked through his binoculars across the train tracks that separated the good and bad sides of town. He witnessed an interracial couple kissing. Can you imagine? A German boy necking with a Norwegian girl. And that was happening on the good side. Just think of the dimwitted half-breed such a union would produce. I had to grow up in these surroundings. It only got worse from there. After witnessing that depraved scene, my Father said he was going out to buy a pack of cigarettes. I didn’t see him again. Until later that evening. I don’t know what he was really doing in the two hours he was gone. The gas station was just right up the street. I guess the stress of working one job at a pharmaceutical company with strong regional influence coupled with the arguments that he and my Mother were having over what color their new car should be just got to him. Even the most galvanized of men show rust from time to time. In 1997, the year I entered eighth grade, the private school I attended made us start wearing uniforms. Uniforms with navy blue shorts. A blatant fashion disaster. When I was waiting for the bus on the first day of school, a guy in a Camry rolled down his window and called me “fancypants.” I was being talked down to by a guy in a Camry! When I turned 16, my parents refused to by me a car. I had to use their Ford Focus hatchback if I wanted to go anywhere. Every time I drove, I put on a wig, sunglasses, and fake mustache. I knew what I had to do. It was time to leave my hometown and discover what it really was to be me.

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