You know it’s been a long time since I’ve had any alcohol when I can remember the last month I had any alcohol–and thereby find out what number this drunken post is to be via my archives!

How’s that for a run-on sentence?

(If you’re viewing this post via a mobile device while driving, walking, or bicycling, please put it down–it can wait.)

While listening to “Baba O’Riley” by The Who, drinking Irish coffee in my living room earlier, I thought of a particular wild-though-harmless drunken escapade at Auburn University (I wasn’t driving–freshman weren’t allowed a car on campus)–and I thought of how I set myself up for a crash, while attending Auburn by having my expectations too high.  And I share this personal information as a warning–especially for teenagers and twenty-somethings.

After graduating from Murphy High School in Mobile, in 1984, I decided to attend Auburn University.  That’s where I had attended my first college football game, where I had danced with a girl for the first time, and where my sister Elaine had met my brother-in-law Jeff.  And I very proudly told everyone in the high-school graduate reception line at my church that I was going to Auburn.  There was no problem with that, at all.

The problem was that I had three unrealistic goals for myself, beginning with my first quarter at Auburn University–summer of 1984.

I expected to be a straight-“A” student, from the beginning.

I expected to join a fraternity in my freshman year.

And I expected to have a girlfriend in my freshman year.

Let’s take a look at these:

The only one of these goals that was in my control at all was to make straight-“A”s from the beginning.  Yet I had never been a straight-“A” student in high school.  And this was college–even more difficult.

So I didn’t make straight-“A”s in my freshman year at Auburn.

Joining a fraternity was not in my control at all–I had to be accepted into a fraternity.  I went to rush events for more than one fraternity, though the most promising was the Farmhouse.  The Farmhouse was a non-alcohol fraternity.  A typical social fraternity with that one difference–no alcohol allowed at social events.  That was cool, I didn’t regularly drink anyway.  And I had a good chance at being accepted–my now-brother-in-law Jeff’s best friend was a member of the Farmhouse.  I attended the rush party, and made a very good impression.  But I wasn’t accepted into the fraternity.  I found out why, later–I was seriously considered, but one of the Farmhouse brothers’ actual brother was rushing, and he was accepted instead of me (they could only accept so many pledges at a time).  Looking back, I’m not really sorry I wasn’t accepted into a fraternity–being the non-conformist that I am.  But I didn’t realize I was such a non-conformist then.

So I didn’t join a fraternity in my freshman year at Auburn.

And having a girlfriend?  That was even less in my control than joining a fraternity.  I didn’t even get a date that year.  I tried to attract girls the best I could, but they simply weren’t interested.  Maybe I tried too hard, maybe not hard enough–but of course there was no way I could control the hearts of young women.  There is no way anyone can control the heart of anyone else–there never has been.

So I didn’t have a girlfriend in my freshman year at Auburn.

Still, the summer of 1985 was the best summer of my life.

In a previous post–an answer to one of Gregory Stock’s questions from “The Book of Questions: Love and Sex”–I described a girl named Melanie.  I didn’t love Melanie, of course (I hadn’t gotten to know her well enough), but I was really in love with Melanie.  And on her last night in Mobile, I ended up in the backseat of my car with Melanie.  And we made-out, big time–but she simply wouldn’t let me have sex with her, despite my verbal expression of desire.  Her reason?  She was too old for me.  It was really ridiculous–she was only five years older than I, but that was her reason.  And I certainly wouldn’t force myself on her–I cared about her.  But I did cry like a baby–and this ruined any future chances with her.

And I returned to Auburn University in the fall of 1985–broken-hearted as hell. And I missed class after class–I couldn’t concentrate.

I did find a following of freshman disciples who looked up to me, a sophomore now–but that wasn’t enough.  I was determined to find a girlfriend right then.  I told my mom, over a payphone at the dorm, that I would leave Auburn if I didn’t find a girlfriend in a week.  She told me that wasn’t realistic, but I wouldn’t listen. And of course I didn’t find a girlfriend in a week.  And I can still see the faces of my freshman friends in a window of the dorm as I left–they would miss me.  Yet it would be over twenty-five years before I would miss them.

And in November, 1985, I ended-up in a psychiatric hospital in my Mobile hometown, having torn up my parents’ kitchen while they were at work (never knowing why I did that).  That was my crash, my breakdown–the time when my mental illness surfaced.  And thirty years later, I still haven’t recovered from it.

Yet I know I set myself up for it–with three unrealistic expectations:

To be a straight-“A” student.

To join a fraternity.

To have a girlfriend.

All in my freshman year.

And I would give my life to be back there, at Auburn University, in the fall of 1985–to be able to stay there, with the knowledge of what I’ve learned.  I’d be an “A” & “B”–with an occasional “C”–student.  And I’d have some good friends.  And I’d have a girlfriend before I knew it–might even end up marrying her.  And to hell with a damned fraternity–I’d know I didn’t need one.

It’s good to have goals–but your goals must be realistic.

Please keep that in mind, whatever your age.

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