As a student, my identity was based on my major (which was selected to best avoid 8:00am classes). As an employee, my occupation defined me even though Administrative Coordinator seemed meaningless. Labels oversimplify but can be useful. Retirement introduced “what I used to be.” Sometimes I choose “famous Blogger,” tempting doubters to visit and view my posts. Class Clown is my default self-descriptor. It outlives being a student and hints at what I am not: jock, artist, intellectual, technology nerd, ladies man. And claiming “Class Clown” validates the assertion.
At a party hosted by a Renaissance Man (doctor/winemaker/author/sculptor) I have known since high school, I introduced myself to a couple who knew him when the husbands worked together as doctors and socialized as hunters. I mentioned that our host was Student Body President when I was Class Clown and praised him for remembering the little people as he climbed the ladder of success. The host rotated into our group and his doctor friend repeated my words without my witty inflections. Renaissance Man denied I was Class Clown and named the person who was in a hushed tone that suggested it was not an honor. He may have been teaching me a lesson about fishing for compliments with self deprecation because he did not offer anything “more” that I was. So I graciously and apologetically conceded to being merely a Wannabe Class Clown. Our mini-group quickly dispersed.
I learned survivors tell the stories when I once referred to being class Salutatorian to a distinguished fellow alum who did not recognize it as an outrageous joke. I also had no idea who our Salutatorian was, so if I can outlive enough people, one day I may even become Student Body President. I will appoint my best friend Class Clown.