In high school biology, his teacher
told him that what he didn’t have in
brains he made up for in personality.
His high school business teacher
told the class that if they were B
students in high school, they
could count on being C students
The mother of a friend told her
that she didn’t deserve to be in
advanced classes. She believed
the mother of her friend rather
than her parents.
Some uppity person told him
he had a second-rate mind.
And, as the King of Siam
said, “Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.”
Not necessarily huge deficits,
maybe even little things in the
big picture but enough to weigh
One little pebble on the road
can send you flying face down.
The die was cast;
the mold had hardened;
fate fixed in time;
the Rubicon had been crossed;
there was no going back.
For a while they bought into the
judgment of such dubious
(“Why would my friend’s mother lie?”
she had asked.)
and became “prophecy self-fulfilled” —
in self-esteem, in grades, in sports,
in everything or so it was thought.
And there really was no going back,
but there was a going forward.
They emerged from the cocoon
for reasons undetermined —
more pluses than minuses?
more parental positives than negatives?
an inherent, underlying confidence?
Perhaps, it is as simple as having had
the book “The Little Engine That Could”
read to you at bedtime by a loving
parent — something like that — something
more significant than a TED talk.
But they did emerge and
they endured vicissitudes and
succeeded in meeting their goals
and feeling, oh, so good about it all,
and then they took
a philosophical view of life:
second-rate meant bargains galore, if
one knew where to look; bargain basement
second class was much better than first;
going first class was way too costly
and you arrive at the same time
and have money to spare to spend
at the bargain basements and
And then they celebrated with what had been
termed by the sommeliers as second-rate/class wine
which cost much less and tasted just as fine.
And in the end, which is
always a beginning of sorts,
they are very, very nice people
who are quite modest about
their accomplishments — unassuming about
themselves and others
and they always pat others
on the back.