My 7th Grade

In seventh grade, the school put me in the lowest section. I had little in common with those kids. They talked about who was making out with who and who’d been placed in juvenile detention for the summer. They also knew song lyrics. Many of the boys rapped to themselves throughout the day.

They’d ask me why I was there.

I would say, “I don’t know”.

They would say, “Are you smart?”

I would say, “No,” or “I don’t know.”

Then they would say, “Yes, you are.” Then try to get me to help them on a test or with seatwork. When I didn’t know the answers to their questions, they would say, “But I thought you were supposed to be smart.”

I was always a quiet person in school. This was the quietest I ever felt.

The next semester, I was transferred to another section. This was the best time I ever had in school. We were considered a section that was fully capable of achievement, but as our social studies teacher would say, “You’re all ignorant. Not stupid. Ignorant. You know what ignorant means? It means that you have the ability to know, but you don’t want to.”

These statements were a joke to us. Everything was a joke. At the cafeteria, we did this thing where we’d say “Schism-scasm-schism” then follow it with a random word. Then we’d insult our classmate with a statement that rhymed with that last word.

My parents sat me down to talk about my grades. They said that I was taking advantage of their marital problems by not doing my school work. I probably was taking advantage of them. I don’t know. I was having too much fun.

Smart, but lonely. Happy, but ignorant. Seventh grade.

Screenwriting as Teenage Therapy

At 15, I wrote a screenplay intended for Paul Newman and Robert Redford. The title, Word to Perfection, was the tagline for Paul Newman’s most recent film, Nobody’s Fool. It was about two aging bank robbers getting together for one last job.

I realize now that it was actually about the absence of grandparents in my life. Not that I didn’t have grandparents, but there wasn’t a relationship from either the maternal or paternal side. I needed someone else to go to with my problems, and I subconsciously thought that they could help.

Many of my high school and community college era screenplays were about needing help and hoping that someone could give me an outlet other than writing. Writing just wasn’t enough to deal with feelings of alienation at that time.

Fortunately, I discovered the likes of Bob Dylan and The Beatles. They gave me another world to step into. I got a message from that music: You’re just fine being you. Marc the writer is just the tip of the iceberg.

It would still take me years to find the courage to dive into the ocean and explore that iceberg. But inch by inch (with school, meditation and social events) I did. Now, I’m at a time where I can see what function each screenplay was trying to perform. It makes me wonder what my present day writings are trying to say.