Goodbye To High School

13 04 2008

Today marks Mystery Topic Challenge number 10. The more observant of you may have noticed that our very own Mr President has not taken part in the last few challenges. This is partly because of his new policy of only entering every other contest, but also that when he has agreed to take part he had hit a bit of writer’s block, especially as the topics were more of a creative nature.

However this time he has a topic he thinks he can sink his teeth into. Perhaps it’s that the Force is with him during this week of his birthday. In fact he’s confident that he will win this won because it’s destiny. The great one, on the week of his delivery unto the world, proving once again why he is so special. Not “special school” special either.

This week’s topic is “describe someone or something that changed your or someone’s life, but the change agent has no idea that it or they had any affect on you”. Actually, if I’m fair to MooPig, winner of the last challenge, the full glory of his topic was a little more insane than that (see it here). Given the variety of mediums at the disposal of the MTC entrants, Mr President’s boring textual entry probably won’t dazzle.

Yet this is Textual Relations, not Pictorial Relations, not Oral Relations (although Mr President would like some of those) and text is what we do here. If you want fancy razzmatazz go somewhere else. What we have to offer, though, is a little lateral thinking, turning the topic upside down. The change of perspective often yields results.

Sitting down to ponder the topic, Mr President realised that it was rare that people changed his life. Great men shape their own fortune, they do not wait for it to be shaped for them. The rare occasions where someone has changed his life for the better, he’s had the good grace to thank them. What, then, could he write about?

Someone benefiting someone else in his presence? No, normally in those cases the change agent is well aware of the change. Although it appeared an easy topic at first, this was fast becoming a genuine challenge. Then it dawned on him; the topic didn’t specify that the change had to be positive, that was merely an interpretation.

He suspected that, like himself, others would equate “change” with “benefit”. When talking about things as momentous as changing someone’s life, it’s natural, he thinks, to be drawn to the positive, yet the negative is actually more likely to occur. Think about all the times someone has changed your life and then ask yourself how many were positive and how many negative. The results may very well shock you to your very core.

When musing on negative changes that nobody ever knew about Mr President had more luck. You see, whilst he is a surprisingly open book, for one writing under a pseudonym, he has learnt over the years not to let people know they’ve hurt you when they’ve wronged you. Vulnerability is something best kept to yourself as it’s easily abused.

Recalling one occasion many years ago (nine to be exact) where his then best friend possibly changed his life, and yet to this day knows nothing. The story has been told to others, but never to the “change agent”. It was the boat party at the end of high school, a time to say goodbye to old friends and celebrate the chance to make new ones.

Moments before the party he’d been confronted by a girl he had a crush on who made an audacious accusation. The details of this accusation aren’t that important but the fact that she, and her little coven of three friends, had rounded on him just before such a night and made such heinous accusations had wounded him deeply. It still does.

As soon as he got on board the boat he went below deck to be by himself. Moments later a male friend of the girl in question approached him. Not to berate him, though, as he didn’t know about the accusations, but just to see if he was ok. They talked about what happened and he convinced Mr President that he should just enjoy the party.

High School friendships are all rather incestuous, as I’m sure you remember. So Mr President ended up spending the evening with people that were friends of both him and the girl, but closer to her. Later he found out she’d spent the night with a mutual friend as well, only this time one that was closer to Mr President. It was all rather weird.

What he remembers most about the night, however, is that he later discovered that this friend of his, so-called, had heard her side of the story about the accusations. Rather than consider that Mr President might actually be innocent of the allegations, he chose to believe them, and said he’d “have a word”. Nice to know who you can trust.

Mr President doesn’t ask unwavering loyalty from his friends, he recognises that they have loyalty to other friends too and occasionally this will put them in an awkward position. He doesn’t expect his friend to “take his side” in such situations, but he asks that if they don’t, they don’t take sides at all and remain neutral. Is that unfair?

Since that time Mr President has always been a lot less trusting, so his life has definitely been changed, and yet the friend doesn’t even know that the story got back to him. Yet although that was the change he had wanted to write about, while remembering that night Mr President decided there was one person he ought to have thanked and hadn’t.

Being the gracious man he is that can’t do. So Mr President would like to thank the guy who came down to him when he was at his lowest ebb, the guy who was actually her friend yet convinced Mr President to ignore her allegations. Without him the night would have been miserable, but thanks to him, it was a great way to say goodbye.


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8 responses

13 04 2008
Pat

“When musing on negative changes that nobody ever knew about Mr President had more luck. You see, whilst he is a surprisingly open book, for one writing under a pseudonym, he has learnt over the years not to let people know they’ve hurt you when they’ve wronged you. Vulnerability is something best kept to yourself as it’s easily abused.”

Way too good for any comment I might have: this is a basis for an entire school of philosophy. AMEN.
— yet —
Gripping and endearing to the end… which is really a beginning, no? pd/mpw

14 04 2008
Mr President

Thank you Pat. I’m quite the philosopher when I get started, I blame it on the fact I’m much better at thinking than doing. Glad you enjoyed it, and yeah, I suppose the end was really a beginning in itself. As with so many things in life, one door closes, another opens.

14 04 2008
Monday Meme - Mystery Topic Challenge « Textual Relations

[…] So today’s post will be dedicated to MTC #10. Although the deadline for entries has officially passed if you’re quick you might be able to get on the poll. The winner of this contest will win a $25 gift certificate as a prize, so it’s well worth entering. The topic is here, and even if you choose not to enter, you might still find it an interesting exercise to do anyway. It certainly opened Mr President’s eyes, as you will see if you read his entry. […]

14 04 2008
jayne d'Arcy

I like the way you took this challenge and how, even though it was negative, it turned out positive in that one person took the trouble to enlighten you as to what was going on.

15 04 2008
Mr President

Yeah, the positive change only really occurred to me as I remembered the night, and suddenly realised “Wait, that was a change, for the positive, that I didn’t thank the guy for”. Without him my last night at school would have been miserable, and things like that only come around once in a lifetime. The challenge was really fun.

16 04 2008
Andy D

As always, you looked at something in a way I had never considered. To bad about the dumb accusations. However, it sounds like even at this low point, you found something good.

16 04 2008
Mr President

You know me, I’m quite the lateral thinker. Which makes the fact that during my interviews one of the interviewers said that I lack the ability to think laterally (or “outside the box” as they put it) completely ridiculous. Oh well, if they think that, their loss.

As for the accusations, yeah, they were horrible, but I had a great evening in spite of them, thanks to that friend of hers. Looking back it means a lot to me that her friends took the time to make sure I had a good evening, whilst mine was busy making her feel better.

17 04 2008
Mr President Pays Homage « Textual Relations

[…] Mr President does urge you to vote in MTC #10. This is nakedly self-serving because his entry, which is obviously awesome, is trailing Andy D’s. Of course the fact that El Presidente […]

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