Monday, October 23, 2006

The world of Internet dating can be a mighty dangerous place...

Alright. I admit it. I have a profile on OkCupid. Why? I'm not sure. In large part because it helped pass the time when I was working at a job that didn't have enough work for me to do. Now I enjoy logging on occasionally to take their assinine quizzes. Which is exactly what I was doing tonight when I got an OkCupid Instant Message. And what with my morbid curiosity to see what happens next, I responded. I have included the conversation below. I've left his screen name the same, but have changed mine for narrative purposes:

hott7inces: ur 3rd pic is super hott!

Me: Does that screen name work for you?

hott7inces: it may

Me: I don't believe you.

hott7inces: i dont know u why lie?

Me: I don't think women want to hop into bed with you because of your self-proclaimed "hot seven inches."

hott7inces: ok
hott7inces: lol

: In fact, I'd be willing to bet that most women are more disgusted by the shameless self promotion than anything else.

hott7inces: dont bet then hehe

Me: Can I ask you something?

hott7inces: sure

Me: What is it in my profile made you think I was a vapid idiot who would actually want an "nsa affair" with someone like you?

hott7inces: never know till uask u may be suprised
hott7inces: never judge a book by its cover hehe

Me: See, I thought I came across as a reasonably intelligent individual. You, however, seem like a common horny man with no manners. And I'm far from prude. But spare me the idiocy in thefuture.
Me: And learn how to fucking spell.
Me: Goodnight

hott7inces: ever hear of e shorthand

Me: are you actually really still talking to me?

hott7inces: gnite

Sunday, October 22, 2006

High school.

A letter I am sending to the community newspaper where I went to high school:

To the Editor:

High school is hell. Or at least it was for me. Yet I’m left to wonder whether it was as bad for everyone else as well: the sixteen valedictorians in my graduating class, the athletes, the National Merit Scholars. For the kids who gained recognition through sports or scholarship – was high school hell for them too?

I graduated from Bexley High School in 1997. Several months into my first year of college, I wrote a scathing letter to the editor of several community papers in which I lambasted the school system. The thrust of my argument was that although the school district purported to be one of the best in Central Ohio, it rested on its laurels; the students in Bexley would excel no matter where they were placed, not because of the schools, but because of family support and encouragement. I also commented that students like me – smart, but not at the top of my class and not an athlete – slipped through the cracks. The more energetic and competent teachers were assigned to the honors and AP classes, while the students who needed more help learning were left behind.

Several readers responded, including one well intentioned gentleman who suggested I get into the “real word” and do some volunteering before I assessed the downfalls of the school district. My perspective would change with age, he assured me; I was just a tiny fish in the metaphoric ocean of life and feeling a little unsure of myself. Nearly ten years later, this is my response:

I graduated from college, worked for a few years, and then went to law school where I graduated near the top of my class. I am now a criminal defense attorney. Though I am still young, I’ve been in the so-called real world. In fact, working in the criminal justice system has exposed me to a world far more real than many have seen. But my opinions have not changed. If anything, my experiences have solidified the way I feel about my time in the Bexley school system.

A few years after graduating from Bexley, a friend from high school told me that the honors students had the “better” teachers because the honors students “deserved” them. I felt this sentiment throughout my time in Bexley. A feeling of entitlement, as if students who lacked a certain intellectual acuity were undeserving of attention or encouragement.

While smart, I wasn’t smart enough for anyone to care. But for the consideration of two or three teachers, I went through my seven years in Bexley unnoticed. I was not the only one. In the years since I’ve left Bexley, I have spoken with other people who have shared my thoughts: Those of us who did not “deserve” help and attention did not get it. The administration and teachers did not know how to compartmentalize those of us who did not excel in either sports or academics.

I have succeeded not because of my educational foundation in Bexley, but in spite of it. I was lucky enough to receive support from my family, if not from my school. Nonetheless, I do credit the Bexley school system with teaching me other important life lessons. My time in Bexley taught me what it is to feel like an outsider. My time in Bexley taught me to what it is to feel like the system does not care. My time in Bexley taught me how to empathize. And my time in Bexley played a large role in my decision to become a public defender instead of a highly paid private sector lawyer. Though I would not deign to understand what my clients go through, I do have an inkling of understanding about what it is to feel like no one cares. Though this has helped me in my own life, these are not the lessons a suburban middle-class high school should be teaching by accident.

I only hope that my words today are more eloquent and less angry than they were nine years ago. Bexley High School is touted as being one of the best schools in Central Ohio. But there is more to teaching and learning than standardized test scores and rankings. I urge those who currently work within the system now to watch for those students out there who need a little extra time and encouragement. High school was hell. Or at least it was for me. A little more sensitivity to those who are slipping through the cracks is all it takes to make it a little less hellish for those who are still stuck there.