In high school I was like that girl Andrea on the Beverly Hills 90210 television show from the ’90s. A little nerdy, a little too talkative, and I worked on the school newspaper. I just didn’t wear glasses.
On the surface, I was pretty straight laced. I never got in trouble and I don’t think my parents ever really got mad or upset at me. (It’s not like I was getting invitations to parties or anything–I was pretty safe being at home on the weekends doing nerdy things like reading a book or practicing my calligraphy.)
I know. Yawn.
But what most people don’t know is that I had a secret life as a master forger. I wasn’t exactly like that guy on Catch Me if You Can, but if I had taken just one wrong turn I’m sure I could have “concurred” during a surgical procedure or pretended I was a pilot. I’m sure of it.
This is how it all went down:
It was my junior year in high school. The school sometimes hired me for my calligraphy skills for certificates they were handing out, whether it be for the athletic program, or some other club or organization. I guess word travels when you’ve made a name for yourself in the world of calligraphy. A few of the cheerleaders soon hired me to make their “spirit” signs throughout the halls. They’d bring me a big roll of colored butcher paper and I’d take it home and roll it out on the floor of our family room, and while watching the Johnny Carson show late at night, I’d paint signs that would say things like “Go Pioneers!” (that was our mascot–the Oregon City Pioneers) or “Beat West Linn!” (they were our rivals from across the river). I rocked those spirit sign posters.
What surprised me when I was painting the signs for the cheerleaders was that they began to pay me about $5 per sign. This was my first taste of capitalism, and little did I know where it would take me.
My signs became quite popular and so people began asking me to make signs to wish a friend “happy birthday!” or to ask someone to homecoming or prom. My signs began decorating the hallways and I had a pretty good business making about $10-$15 a week.
If sign painting was required to stay on the island on the show Survivor I’m sure I would never get kicked off. And that’s how I felt in high school. I was a keeper.
Now I’m not exactly sure how the next thing happened though. People knew I made signs and they knew I had all sorts of “fonts” and “typography” up my sleeve (though no one called it that–this was pre-Macintosh days. In fact, pre-computer days). And they knew I shamelessly took their money in exchange for my talent. But one day a kid–a cute guy, in fact–came up to me and asked me if I would help him out by writing him a note from his mother that he could take to the school office. The note was to explain that he was home sick the day before and couldn’t be at school.
There was a voice in my head that immediately told me I shouldn’t be doing that. It was wrong. But I looked up at him into his dark eyes and said, “Why, of course!” I wrote the note in my most adult-looking penmanship and away he went. I think after that day when he would pass me in the halls he might have even smiled at me once or twice. Maybe.
Before I knew it, almost as soon as I got through the high school doors, before first period, there would be a group gathering around me. They would be shoving stationery at me that they grabbed from home and they had pens in their hands for me to use. For $5 each, I would write their “notes from their mothers.”
This went on for a few months and then I can’t remember why it stopped. Either everyone decided it wasn’t a good idea anymore or maybe I took the high road and said I wasn’t going to do it anymore. (If the latter was the case, it’s too bad I don’t remember doing that. I’d like to think that I could remember when I behave virtuously.)
I’ve gone back to living my nerdy, quiet life. I don’t forge anymore. That was just my phase in high school. It garnered me a little bit of attention, a cute boy would smile at me, and I was making some pretty good cash for very little effort. It was capitalism at it’s finest!
But I don’t think I’ll ever be able to run for public office now.