With my rejection from Exeter, I saw how upset Mother was and how desperately she wanted me to attend boarding school.
Given my spotty attendance in the seventh grade—I played hooky as well as was suspended—at the beginning of eighth grade Mother made an appointment with the school guidance counselor. I don’t know if it was the guidance counselor who finally met a concerned parent, or my mother who finally met someone as interested in me as she was, but the two began regular weekly meetings. My flawless attendance and good grades to begin the year, somehow combined with Mother’s fear that I’d become a punk and surfaced the boarding school option. To my dismay, the possibility became Mother’s first objective in her long term plan for my success.
That night as I lay in bed, I couldn’t forget my mother’s disappointment, so I attempted a bargain. “Now listen, God, let’s make a deal. If I get into St. Paul’s, I’ll be a priest, an Episcopal priest.” I could marry, and Mother could have grandchildren. And while I’d be doing God’s work, not mine, I figured it’d be worth it. Mother would be pleased. “If I don’t get in anywhere, God, if I have to stay in public school, I’ll be a jazz drummer and smoke unfiltered cigarettes.” That would serve Him right! “If I’m accepted at Blair Academy, the deal is off.” I’d do something else, who knows, but Mother would still be pleased.
It’s hard to strike a deal with God, though. He never confirms his end. You just have to assume because you made a fair bargain, he bought in.
A week after we heard from Exeter, letters arrived from St. Paul’s and Blair. Mother immediately ripped them open. St. Paul’s said sorry. Blair said yes and offered me a generous scholarship package. Mother squealed with delight.
And so, without a vote and no real sign from God, I was off to join the best and brightest.