Conformity is for Conformists
I am the most internally non-confirming, outwardly conforming person you might ever meet.
I blame my brothers. Tim (11 years older than me) and Jim (15 years older than me) were both hippies. In fact, Jim’s nickname was “Hippie Jim” well into his 30s. He was luck in the Vietnam draft, but many of their friends were not. Our hometown is a small city in the middle of Michigan, and a bastion of conservatism. My brothers and their friends were visible members of the counterculture. Given the long hair and other elements of the Age of Aquarius set was taken by my brothers, I had to distinguish myself at least outwardly in other ways.
In junior high I wanted to be a writer. Brother Jim and our older sister Susan were both writers. Brother Tim and our Dad were outgoing, masterful story tellers. I was shy, introverted, and loved to read. It was natural for me to gravitate to writing. Our parents were not ones to provide much advice. Our Mother was good at voicing her displeasure in a variety of passive aggressive manners, but seldom was she direct in her communication. One night we had stopped at the local convenience store, and someone must have asked me what I wanted to do. When I said writer, my mom suggested that something that made money would be better like lawyer. That idea stuck into my first semester of college when I was seduced by a life in the academy.
In high school, I was on the debate team along with public speaking, model UN, and theater. For debate, I wore a jacket and tie. I owned a three-piece suit while still in high school. One day my cousin Lisa was visiting and asked if the briefcase that was out was my Dad’s. No, that’s mine. She compared me to Alex Keaton (Michael J. Fox’s character on Family Ties). The problem with this comparison was that Alex was a Republican, much to the frustration of his recovering hippy parents. I was a member the Young Democrats, much to the frustration of my Republican parents, I am sure.
A Gift from My Parents
The greatest gift (besides life itself) that my parents gave me (and my siblings) was the philosophy of “you do you.” I don’t know if they meant to do this. Dad was 17 when he joined the navy in World War II and did not talk about his…