A little known fact about me is that I went to an all-male preparatory institution for high school. Known as Erie Cathedral Prep, it counts judges, mayors, congressmen and even the first Secretary of Homeland Security among its graduates. Its not a traditional all male school as it it had very few boarders, and, unlike a bunch of the prestigious prep schools, income was not that big of an entry factor. If you had the desire to learn, your way would be paid.
As a result, boys of different economic backgrounds were thrust together for some of the most important years of their lives. Our teachers were sticklers that wanted to bring out the best in all of us, and that was done by rigorous teaching methods, as well as a pinch of hardcore violence now and again.
During the long, dark and cold days of winter (Prep was located in Erie, Pennsylvania, where winter lasted from early October to late April) and during the first blooms of spring, the student body often grew cold, restless, bored and excitable.
Thus, there were a lot of fights between the students. These could happen for a number of reasons, such as a fight over a girl more than one person liked, resentment over a hard foul in basketball, frustration over bad grades or class rank (we were competitive in everything).
These scuffles could happen anywhere at any time. Two instances stand out in my mind, and I remember them as though they occurred yesterday. The first happened when I was a freshman. The upperclassmen would gather at one end of the freshman hall staring for a number of minutes. Then, they started a slow clapping. Some of the freshmen, eager to fit in, joined the clapping. Then, without warning, the mass of older boys would charge down the hall like a tsunami, causing injuries and destruction throughout the hall. While most of us escaped without injury, there were a couple of broken legs and one kid was stuffed in a locker, not to be found for a number of hours after the incident.
The second occurred at a basketball game. At half time, our cheerleaders, such as they were, went onto the gym floor and spelled P-R-E-P. Our student body cheered, as was its custom. The rival teams fans sprinted out onto the court and spelled, well, they spelled a slur for homosexual (because we went to an all-male school, the implication was that all of us were, of course, homosexuals). Out head cheerleader flew across the floor and began a melee that ended the basketball game and resulted in a number of injuries.
Based on these personal recollections , and upon the political battles and analysis of today, my participation in the aforementioned incidents, would apparently prohibit me from ever becoming president of the United States. If you believe the fairly recent reports, candidate Mitt Romney was a bit of a bully in high school. Romney, while attending a similar institution such as mine, supposedly got into some fights, played some practical jokes on classmates and even caused some compatriots some pain and anguish during their high school years.
Often times, I reach a point in my life where I survey the kingdom around me and think to myself Well, thats it. I know everything there is to know about everything.
I then promptly forget said thoughts until I have them a few years later, and I think to myself What an idiot. I dont know anything now, and I certainly didnt know anything then.
Life is made up of mistakes and errors. However, if you put all of your errors on a timeline, I would imagine most of them would be grouped in the first twenty years of your life. Wouldnt you, at the age of say, sixty, hate to be judged by what you did or didnt do during your teenage years, and then have all of those mistakes dredged back up so that people can evaluate you on the foibles and follies of your younger years?
I think not.
Im not sold on Romney as a candidate. I really want to be, but there are certain, intangible things that I worry about, and this restrains me from making an all-out endorsement for his candidacy.
But, I think all of the negative press and reaction to the young Mitt Romney is completely ludicrous and undeserved. For if we all attempted to endure the scrutiny of our younger selves, Im certain we would all fail.
Christopher Markham writes a regular column for fredericknewspost.com.