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#22. I was kicked out of graduate school when I was twenty-two.

Yes, gentle friends, 'tis true. I was unceremoniously booted from an institution of higher learning, and not for streaking down the hallway, or pissing on the trophy case. Well, not just for that, anyway, if you can believe the court proceedings.

No, instead, they told me I was 'inexperienced'. That I needed more 'seasoning', to 'build my skills', and to 'get a fucking clue'. But these vague, unspecific homilies -- though probably kinder than stark reality -- were of little use to me, and I set off to find my way in the world. Well, actually, I played an awful lot of golf. And yes, if you're keeping score at home, I played an awful lot of awful golf. I never promised you Arnie Palmer, folks. Or even Rosy. Get over it.

You see, the institution of higher learning which decided I was unworthy of their educational efforts made one small error when they shit-canned me. They did it in June, but had to pay me through August. And a finer summer of libation, slothery, and golfitatiousness has never been seen before or since, I daresay. I took a couple of weeks out of my busy schedule of sleeping, drooling, drinking, and putting to line up a job for the fall. And then I dove right back in. My golf game, my tan, and my alcohol tolerance were at their utmost during those heady, magical times. Sometimes, I look back in wistful longing of the days when I had no job, and yet was getting paid to do one.

(Hey, wait... that's my situation now! What the hell? I'm not tanning, or golfing, or even particularly boozing these days. What gives? No, instead I'm painting and mowing and doing laundry. When the hell did I get lame and uncool, anyway? Harrumph. I blame the house for all of this. Back in apartment-land, it never went down like this. Scarier, and messier, and often with cops involved, but never -- never like this. Man, I'm old.)

So, anyway, long story short(er), I hopped into a job after getting the professorial boot. At the hospital attached to the medical center for the same school, as it happened. You know, just so I could keep an eye on those bastards, to see what they were up to. Miserable dickheads. I skulked around at that job for two years -- two -- just waiting for them to slip up, when I finally got The Idea™. I decided to get back into school. The same school. Only in a different program, where everyone would love me and I'd make lots of friends and be the star of the class. The absolute shining star! That'd show those bastards back in the old program that I was not just some clueless, unseasoned, unskilled boob. No, dammit. I was a clueless, unseasoned, unskilled boob not to be trifled with! So there!

So, I applied for this other, fancier, program and got in. And lorded it over the people I knew from the 'other' program, who were now entering their fourth years. I gloated that my program was better. They gloated that they'd be out making money before I ever ran out of classes to take. We each agreed that the other party was a raging dickhead. And we laughed it off and went out for beers. It was all very well-adjusted, I assure you.

Then I was back in school, in my shiny new program. Taking classes, and cramming for tests, and reading papers. I wasn't the 'shining star' of the class, exactly, but I did well enough. I got good grades, and made lots of drinking buddies, and played all the requisite reindeer games. It was cool. So, of course, at the end of my second 'first year', having shown my old profs a lesson or two, I dropped out. Just left, without all that much warning, frankly. Betcha didn't see that one coming, did you?

But see, I had discovered another profession that I enjoyed more than what I was studying. It was hot, and interesting, and downright sexy. You know, in a manly sort of way. So, after giving it a few weeks of secret thought, I jumped ship. I decided I'd had enough of school and ditched it, and never looked back. It's one of the better decisions that I've ever made. Well, sober decisions, anyway. Most of those don't turn out to be nearly so interesting, or life-altering.

So, do I miss school? No, not really. I had some laughs in both programs I was a part of -- probably too many laughs, if I'm being completely honest. And I didn't get a degree from either. I'm stuck with just my BS degree from my BS college. So, yeah, it would have been nice to go through the whole shebang, and come out the other end of the meat grinder with a PhD. 'Doctor Charlie,' I could have been. But it was too much work and not enough reward, so I bagged it for something I liked better. Lots of people do it every day, so I don't feel too bad.

Still, my wife did it. Got her PhD, that is. So there is a 'Doctor Missus Charlie'. But she's cool. She doesn't lord it over me, or make me call her 'Doctor', or anything like that. Well, unless we're playing doctor, of course. Then, she's the naughty general practitioner, and I'm the innocent patient, coming in for a routine 'full physical'. It's all business until she asks me to cough, and then, look out! That's when the tongue depressors and cotton swabs fly, and my stethoscope starts heating up. 'Oh, doctor! Oh! Doctor! Oh!'

Okay. That really doesn't happen. I just didn't have a good way to end this post. Sprinkling a little sex in there seemed to be a good idea at the time. But, of course, I was corrected by my wife, and asked to pen this retraction note. So, no, we don't play doctor that way at all. (We do play it another way, though, which is... oh. Right. Sorry, hon. I'll be good now.) So forget the whole doctor-playing thing. I never should have written it. I should have run that by my wife before I slung it out there for all to see. She's the smart one in the family, you know. I just don't have very good judgement in these matters. Maybe I should have stayed in school, yes?

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