There was a point in high school where I was drinking a ton and was really depressed. I didn't really know at the time that I was depressed, but I wasn't in a good place. I hated going to school, just hated it. I was showing up to school hung over every Thursday. Me and some friends called Wednesday 'Wasted Wednesday'. I was going to improv classes, then meeting up with friends at a place we called 'The Bar.' The Bar was a flipped over fridge we found in the woods. Every single Wednesday, we'd meet at 'The Bar' and drink. I'd drink a full quart of rum to myself, then go to school the next day. I was going to school every Thursday like I had lost my job at the plant.
"Nathan, you okay? You look terrible. The factory shut down?"
"No. 'Wasted' and 'Wednesday' sort of go together. That's it."
Every Thursday, the first class I had was english. At 9 am. I would basically be crawling in there. One day after class my teacher stopped me.
"Nathan, I know you're showing up to class drunk."
"I'm not drunk. I'm hung over. And can you be little quieter? My head is going to explode."
I was in a bad way. One time in this class, I had my head on a desk trying not to spin or whatever the hell was happening, and a girl looked at me and said 'You're hot'. Now, had I not been hung over, my head pounding and this girls voice not destroying my fibre, I might have responded differently. But all of that happening, I said 'Fuck you.' That was my response. 'Fuck you.' Just awful.
I was really down, and on a path to nothing good. I decided after grade 10 that I wasn't going to go to school for the first semester of grade 11. Just wasn't going to do it. Everyone told me that I'd never go back to school. Every single person told me that I'd never go back and finish high school. I knew that I would. I knew I would go back and finish school, I just needed to change some things. I took the time off of school, got a job, and quit drinking every single week.
"Nathan, you okay? You look alright. The factory open back up?"
"No. I just decided to stop drinking like my wife passed away in a car accident."
I started to be in a better mood. I started to hang out with people who were fun, didn't need to drink and do drugs, and were into the same things I was. I started to think more positively. And I started to think about going back to school the next semester. Also started to think that I wanted to go back in a different way. I wanted to be that dude at dances. You know, THAT dude, the guy that had people circling him. The guy that was crushing it on the floor. Wanted to go back and be that guy. I remember walking around the dances before I stopped going to school, and I felt weird and out of place. I didn't like it. I would only try to dance with girls that I was friends with, and pretty much only slow dances. Then, 'the dude' would just start tearing it up. People would be excited. People would circle around, jump around and smile.
So, I set out to do that. At the time I had started to really love Michael Jackson. I don't remember why, or really how it started, but I loved the man. I bought everything, and I'd come home after work and learn the moves in my mirror. I would dance to Michael Jackson, staring at the mirror, thinking of being the dude in school. This went on for months. Me working a fast food job, coming home, tossing on Michael and power dancing in my mirror.
"Nathan, you okay? You look greasy and tired. The music factory start up again?"
"I'm started not to know what these comments mean. Please stop them."
After that full semester of working and dancing alone, I went back to school. Before a dance rolled around, there was a karaoke contest in the school. I signed up. Could I sing? Not at all. I hadn't come home after working a fast food job and sang in the mirror. So what did I do? I danced. I danced to Billy Jean. Had all the moves down. I was up there feeling great. I knew I didn't sing so I didn't think I was going to win, but I just wanted to perform. The contest winner was based on audience applause, and I won. I won a t-shirt I'm pretty sure. I was so excited. People were telling me how great it was. Dancing in my mirror alone like a nut paid off.
"Nathan, you okay? You dance at night alone for the future enjoyment of others. You want a job at a factory instead?'
"I swear to christ, stop this."
Dances came around, and I became that dude. Well, one of the guys. There was another dude in my school who break danced. He was great. We would be the dudes at dances. People wanted me at dances. They'd come around, and people would ask me if I was going. Lots of people. I put on shows at school with another friend of mine who was a pop locker. I had a bunch of confidence and was having fun. I wasn't hurting anybody, mostly myself. Wasn't drinking or doing drugs. I was doing good in school. Having fun with just life. This went on for a couple years, and I was voted best dancer in my high school. Was I that good? No, but I was known. And I mean, how many people are even dancing in high school?
Now, I didn't think that was thing that would upset anyone, but it did. There was someone in my school who hated that I was voted best dancer. They thought they could dance better than me. When they would see me in the hall, they would start dancing. Just stop mid conversation, and start dancing.
"Yeah, you know, I'm probably going to go to that par..."
Then he'd see me and just start crushing. I knew he was mad at me, but I didn't get it. He wasn't dancing at school. I asked him once if he wanted to put on a show with me. We could both dance, entertain people. He just stared at me, then was like 'naw, man. I ain't into that.' Okay, well I tried. I thought that would be the end of it, but one time while walking home from the store, a guy came out of nowhere.
"Yo, you think you can dance better than my dude?"
It was winter time. I had a big coat on, was holding some gummy bears I had bought.
"What? Who is your dude?"
"Yo, you serious? Yo, man, he don't know who you are!"
Then, also out of nowhere, came the guy who was mad I was voted best dancer.
"You don't know who I am?"
"Yeah, I do man. I didn't know he met you. What's up?"
The other dude jumped back in.
"You think you can dance better than him?"
"Man, I never said that."
"Let's go around the corner and have a dance off."
This was actually said. This guy wanted me to have a dance off with his friend in the winter behind a bar. I'm guessing he'd be the judge? And this was exactly what I'd come up to him about in school! But do something like this in front of an audience, not in the snow behind a bar I used to go watch drunks fight in front of.
"No, man. I'm not doing that."
"Ahhh, look at that. He's scared to go around the corner with us because we're black and he thinks we'll rob him."
Not in anyway was that what I thinking. I was thinking 'it's cold. This is ridiculous. I'm going back to my friends house. Can I just eat these gummy bears.' Thought I'd run the show thing by him again.
"Dude, why don't we do this at school?"
"Naw, man. You scared."
Then, they walked away, and I walked away. We never had an interaction again, and I graduated soon after that. After school, pretty much quit dancing all together, and started doing comedy. In a lot of ways, should have kept dancing. Comedy does not NEARLY make women run like dancing does, and nobody has ever asked me to go behind a bar with them and have a joke off. There's no 'Step Up' movie about punchlines.
"Yo, he can tell a joke? I bet he's good in bed."
None of that. But either way, for a little while, I was that dude.