What’s up with high school guidance counselors? Is there anyone out there in the world that has actually benefited from one? Well, if you have, please feel free to share your good fortune. I, on the other hand, have nothing but uncomfortable memories of my guidance counselor at a time when I really needed some sound advice.
When I was a sophomore, I thought about applying to the licensed practical nurse (L.P.N.) program at our local Boards of Cooperative Education Services (B.O.C.E.S), a vocational school open to both high school kids and adults seeking a higher level of education in the form of a trade. Nobody, however, looked at B.O.C.E.S. as anything resembling higher education. Quite the opposite, B.O.C.E.S. was considered a place where all the burnouts went for auto shop, or the girls with low I.Q.’s and high hair went for cosmetology. I’m not sure what kind of losers the nursing students were, but let me tell you, if you were on that bus heading to B.O.C.E.S., people pitied you.
So making this kind of decision was tough. My parents really didn’t know what to say, my friends thought I was crazy, my boyfriend’s mom, who was a nurse, pooh-poohed the idea. This left me with only one other choice…my guidance counselor.
You have to understand this truly was my last resort!
If you’ve been fortunate enough in life to have read the Frog and Toad children’s stories, you’ll be able to relate to what my guidance counselor looked like. If not, stop here, Google Frog and Toad and then come back…
His name was Mr. S. He sat at his desk in the guidance office smoking cigarettes all day. He was stout with a round belly that stood perched atop his upper thighs. His voice was gravely, kind of like Wolf Man Jack’s. I don’t remember being afraid of him by any means, but I also don’t remember looking forward to meeting with him.
But in I went, and down I sat as a smoke ring circled my head. It didn’t bother me that he smoked; everybody smoked back then. He asked me why I was there and I plead my case. He listened politely, rummaging through my records, and to my surprise he too did not think B.O.C.E.S. was in my best interest. I could tell he didn’t want to see me get on that bus.
Was that a look of pity that crossed his face?
I’m a pretty stubborn person. I always have been. It was at that moment I knew I was going to do the absolute opposite of what this gravely, smoking, toad like person, trapped in a windowless world wanted me to do.
What choice did I have?
So I filled out the application, sat for the entrance exam (something not required for auto shop admission I’m sure), and was accepted into the program.
That following September, with my head held high, I climbed the three short steps onto that B.O.C.E.S. bound bus and never looked back.
Oh yeah, and the guy from auto shop, well he’s living it up, charging a small fortune to fix those sporty European cars, and Cosmo girl, she owns a very swanky salon, a beautiful house, and still looks fabulous. As for me, well I’ve had a successful career, live in a nice home with my husband and three kids, and am happy to have always forged my own path.
I’m not quite sure whatever happened to that guidance counselor though. For all I know he’s still in that windowless room, giving out bad advice, with a nicotine patch stuck somewhere over his amphibious body.