I stand accused and accountable for many things in my lifetime, but one thing nobody could ever accuse me of is being a ‘joiner’.
I’m not a club or organization kind of fellow. I got kicked out of cubs when I was a kid, and I was regularly in the badbooks of my Sunday school class; living in infamy in the eyes of the girl teacher with an unfortunate complexion, and possibly in the eyes of God, too. That might explain some later complications in my life.
Knowing deep in my heart, soul and other bits of my firmament about my revulsion to getting involve, I must confess I do find it odd that I have served (according to my CV list) on some dozen community boards over the last couple of decades.
But, I know I am still not a joiner and while I have served those organizations well (in varying degrees ranging from enthusiasm to agonizing ennui to outright near homicidal antagonism) in my own way, I remain a non-joiner.
You see, with joining comes responsibility, and I hate responsibility as much as Lou Grant hated spunk. I mean, I am basically a pretty responsible guy, but I still hate it for with responsibility comes ‘obligation’. Obligation is even worse because that means you have committed to doing stuff.
What the hell was I thinking when I signed on to this? That has been the prevailing thought never far from my mind when I’ve agreed to get involved in something or other like a board, a committee, a marriage? No, I won’t go to the latter, though the obligations therein often prove to be the most onerous and the rewards not always as satisfactory as I anticipated.
As follows, however, are the things I never, ever wanted to join and never have, much to my relief:
– The Projectionist Club: It’s only a certain breed of cat that heads in that dweebish direction. I suppose nowadays it’s not a matter of pushing a 16-mm down a school corridor on a trolley, but I suspect the players are similar to the ones when I was in school. Quite simply, I never looked well in really high-waisted trousers and have never gravitated in the direction of (as practical as they might be) plastic ballpoint pen sheaths in the breast pocket of my buttoned to the neck shirt.
– The US Marines: I always thought they had the coolest dress uniforms and that provided a certain allure. Oh, and babes. I suspect marines score lots of babes. But, then I thought about shooting people or (more importantly) being shot, and stuff like Iwo Jima and so forth and decided to demur.
– Mercenaries: Big bucks in going off to some wretched African enclave to help quell some insurrection. But then too I thought about being shot, tortured and all the other downside things, and again demurred.
– Teaching school: Oh wait. I did that. Well, I haven’t always followed the directions given by my inner muse. Anyway, I knew from about Day 3 that I didn’t want teaching to be my life. This, despite the fact I was a good teacher (ahem) and my students generally liked me and I liked them. But, all the anal protocols and I just didn’t get along.
– Becoming a heroin addict: No, I’ve worked with them. There isn’t a great future in the practice no matter how good you get at it.
– Being a gigolo: Charming thought. You get to dress nicely on somebody else’s dime, drive a boss car and go to high-end restaurants all for the sake of doing the nasty with somebody who’s paying the tab. But then I thought, what if the person paying the bills has zero appeal – which might be the case if she has to pay for it? Added to which, time and age tend to quash performance, hence demand.
– Steeplejack: Acrophobia.
– Miner: Claustrophobia.
– Politics: Please, though some may doubt it, I have some personal integrity and standards of behavior.
– Veterinarian: I actually thought of that at one point in my unfocused youth, mainly because I am very fond of animals. But then the equation of having to put animals down led me away from such foolish thoughts.
– Farmer: Sort of an idyllic musing. I like farms and in my teens worked on one and I loved it. Love the smell of hay and driving a tractor and all that stuff, and then sitting around on the verandah drinking applejack after a hard day’s work. But, the thing that kept me from it knew I couldn’t raise livestock, mainly because you raise livestock with a view to murdering the poor critters. That’s why I won’t, for example, eat lamb or veal, and when I rose chickens years ago I let them die of old age.
No, I guess I am generally pretty contented with the choices I’ve made in my life in terms of what I’ve committed myself to. Not perfect, but not awful in terms of my personality.
What are the choices you are glad you didn’t make, or what are the choices you have regretted getting involved with?