Not Bad for a C Student


| This is the 583rd story of Our Life Logs® |


1 | King of Louisiana

I arrived on this globe of chaos and wonder in the late fall of 1960. I was the fifth and last child of Charlie and Lila Holiday. At the time of my birth, Dad was in the seventh year of his eight-year service in the United States Air Force. We moved back to my Dad and Mom’s hometown of Kentwood, Louisiana, shortly after Dad’s military service ended in 1961, so I have no real memories of living in my birthplace, Mountain Home, Idaho.

We weren’t in the city long before my father enrolled in Southern University, a historically black university located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Since it took about five and a half years for Dad to finish his college education, my earliest childhood memories are of the old Southern University military-style dorms, affectionately referred to as the “wooden projects.” We lived in those old dorms. Our unit had eight bedrooms, two kitchens, two full bathrooms, and a water cooler. The latter was my favorite feature. I thought we were living a life of luxury!

I was surrounded by intellectuals in my early years. Dad would bring his professors, fellow students, and even the deans of his degree program home to meet his family. When I was about five years old, a member of the Southern University faculty, whom Dad called “Coach Mack,” gave me my first Latin lesson at one of these “get-togethers.” I was playing with my metal toy truck when he approached.

“Do you know what ‘Rex’ means?” Coach Mack asked in a tone that demanded an answer.

With all of the confidence that a five-year-old could manage, I replied “Yes, it means ‘dog.’”

Confident that my surprisingly accurate answer was the reason for his sudden silence, I went back to playing with my truck.

“No!”

The abruptness of Coach Mack’s objection caused me to stumble over the top of my truck. When I looked up at him he looked absolutely horrified.

“No one has ever told you that your name means ‘king’?”

Uh, come again?

I completely forgot about my truck and gave Coach Mack my full and undivided attention. He proceeded to explain to me that the name “Rex” is the Latin word for “king.”

“Don’t you ever forget that.”

I never have.

• • •

Despite being surrounded by all those intellectuals, I was barely a C-average student in my first three years of elementary. More than once I was disciplined for disrupting a class (and the very next day I would be at it again). I’m part of a generation that came before the diagnosing of attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrums, so there wasn’t a whole lot for my parents and teachers to reference. In fact, to this day, I have never been diagnosed with any of those conditions. So, what was the problem? Why did I find it so difficult to focus?