Astronaut, doctor, super hero, veterinarian, pop star, race car driver, policeman, secret agent, athlete, teacher, firefighter, zookeeper, and President of the United States. Exciting careers, right? Rewarding and if you're lucky, so are the pay checks. In my pre- teen years nothing on that short list grabbed my attention. Thanks to hours spent reading National Geographic and encyclopedias, the better questions to have asked me would have been:
The answer to that last one would not have included High School Counselor. I left a high school guidance counselor with a monumentally bad impression of me. Junior year. Mr. Niggle. (I'm not making that up. Okay, yes I am but it's a legit word and it suited him.) A pre-college, choose-a-career interview. He showed me a list of careers suitable for women at the time, early 70s. More a paragraph than a list it included:
4) retail sales
5) fashion business
6) bank teller
You get the idea. Career options were slim, at least according to Mr. Niggle, counselor in a northern Louisiana high school. I must have looked unenthralled, may have even yawned, because he asked me in a terse, I'm Only Asking Because I'm Getting Paid To Care About Your Post-High School Life, way,
"So, Miss McCrillis, what do you want to be when you grow up?"
"A writer and an etymologist."
Gerbil-ish eyes peered at me over indigo reading glasses. "You mean...an entomologist."
He ignores my rebuttal.
"So. You want to work with bugs."
"No, sir. I want to work with people who write dictionaries. Etymology is the origin and history of words. Entomology is the study of insects."
And then Mr. Niggle uttered a phrase I'd heard before I walked into his office and have heard innumerable times since.
"That's not normal."
I wonder how many more check marks he would have put in the Not Normal column of my interview sheet if I'd added...
"and I want to be a pilot, like my dad. And be a Thunderbird."
First aircraft flown by Thunderbird pilots, F84G
This year is the 60th anniversary of the USAF Thunderbird Air Demonstration teams. May, 1953 the first team took flight in F-84G Thunderjets and the teams have been through many aircraft conversions since. Had I been allowed into pilot training after high school I would've just missed out on flying an F-4E Phantom II, flown by the teams until 1973.
For the last twenty years the F-16 Fighting Falcon has been the Thunderbird pilots' ride.
Isn't she pretty?!!
And for a certain high school guidance counselor, I'd keep a list of native bugs.
a "knife edge pass" at closing speeds of nearly 1000 mph - two Birds looking like one!
What about you? Any, When I Grow Up I Want To Be dreams?
Did you make them happen?