It has been almost 40 years since I busted out of the state-operated boarding school for cripples, aka the Sam Houston Institute of Technology (SHIT). And I must admit that even today, being a SHIT graduate inspires me to strive to achieve great things.
I want to win several Nobel prizes, a Pulitzer and an Oscar. I want to become the world’s greatest cellist, cure cancer and wrestle a rabid alligator into submission on live television.
I’m still holding out hope that I’ll be able to check all these things off of my to-do list. I’m working on it. Don’t count me out because I’m super motivated! Because I want to hear people say that this guy who wrote the novel that transformed human civilization, invented the life-saving method for irrigating the deepest regions of the Sahara and brokered the permanent peace between Israel and Palestine went to a fucked up little state-operated boarding school for cripples. I don’t know why I’m dying to hear that. Just for a laugh, I guess. There’s something irresistibly ridiculous about it. People who pull off big time feats like these go to Harvard or Oxford or whatever. They never go to a place like SHIT. The more I achieve the more ridiculous it is.
But no matter what I do, I will never be the most legendary inmate in the history of SHIT. That distinction, at least in the eyes of the other inmates, will forever belong to a 1960s inmate named Clint Eastwood (Smart Ass Cripple alias).
Every conceivable shape, size and breed of cripple passed through SHIT at some point. But Clint Eastwood was the one cripple everybody talked about. By the time I arrived at age 13 he was long gone. His stay was brief, but his legend endured. What the inmates all vividly remembered about Clint Eastwood was how he always jerked off. It didn’t matter where he was, the veteran inmates said. He could be at breakfast, in class, in the middle of playing Chutes and Ladders. If he felt like doing it, he’d do it, on the spot.
I don’t know what made Clint Eastwood crippled. Maybe it was what we now call TBI (traumatic brain injury). Those folks can be pretty whacky because sometimes they have no inhibitions about some things. They might take a dump in the middle of the Sistine Chapel and not think twice. They don’t mean any harm. It’s not contempt. It’s just that the etiquette regions of their brains don’t fire up in the way the rest of us want them to.
Who knows? But according to the legend, Clint Eastwood simply disappeared one day, like a political dissident. He was discharged to some place even more dark and mysterious and punitive than SHIT.
And that gave all us young boys great pause because, well, you know how young boys are. You can’t hold out forever. You may be able to resist until such time as you were snug up under your bed covers, but sooner or later you would give in. And what if one of the houseparents uncovered evidence of your indiscretion? How many indiscretions would it take before they sent you off to the same place they sent Clint Eastwood? And you sure as hell didn’t want to find out where that place was.