I was a tenth grader on my way to being the next great commercial artist/NBA point guard…until Bruno showed up.
So it all started with Bruno, a small-time high school hood.
I was a tenth grader on my way to being the next great commercial artist/NBA point guard…until Bruno showed up. Yeah, I wasn’t always a delicate flower.
Anyway, first day of sophomore Art class, the dreaded, legendary Mark Keppel High thug was seated on my right as we shared a rectangular table. And Bruno’s ultra-hot girlfriend sat directly across from me. When I closed my eyes, all I saw were the words “Awkward, dangerous, and death.”
Bruno only stood about 5’3”; he looked like the felony version of the Fonz. On his left forearm, a tattoo read “Born to kill”; on Bruno’s right I noticed some serious black widow art.
Bruno looked like he was about 23-years old (coulda been the shaved head.) I wondered how many attempts at grade-10 the little punk had actually had. And I’m not so sure he ever did make it out of high school; Bruno undoubtedly had a better chance of being paroled outa Folsom.
But one thing’s for sure; Bruno could really draw. When I glanced over at the little criminal’s work, I saw what Picasso might have been had he chosen an assault and battery career. And at 15-years old, I’d never been more enthralled by elaborate sketches of low-rider cars and incredibly beautiful naked women.
Yeah, Bruno could really draw. But sadly, while sketching, Bruno could also kick my butt without even trying.
In a moment of clarity, I made a career change. I picked dentistry. What could be easier?
And the journey might have been a little bumpy at times. That first quarter 2.13 GPA at Cal State LA and my Dad’s wake-up call that followed pretty much transformed me into a stellar student, a passable warehouseman, and a social activist. I also acquired a fear of lifting heavy things and being shot at in the jungle.
I was accepted into every dental school to which I applied. I was first welcomed by Creighton University and compared to looking over my shoulder for the Viet Cong version of Bruno, freezing half the year in Nebraska and actually going to Mass every Sunday seemed like a fairly sensible option.
But my family had suffered the tragic loss of my brother and it was a blessing that I received a letter of acceptance from USC. I could stay close to home. But I wasn’t so sure about the “bottom line” part of the blessing when my dad got the bill.
Back in The Day, if USC was a person, it would have been slightly more conservative than Mike Pence’s redneck uncle. At my interview, the Dean of Admissions shared he was impressed with my work and thought I looked more or less normal; he then asked what my dad did for a living. When I answered “Teamster Business Representative” the dean shared “…unions were good in their day.” I asked the Dean what he thought about slavery. Maybe a tactical error but nobody talks mess about my dad.
What followed were arguably the worst four years of my life (I wonder why?) It seemed like every pipsqueak who’d ever wanted to wear a barber’s smock with red strips on its sleeves and would later watch the first half of Full Metal Jacket at least thirty times was in my freakin face nonstop.
USC dental school is located on 925 W 34th Street. I’ve called my D-school escape the Miracle on 34th Street ever since. And I think I’m still looking over my shoulder for Bruno; sometimes even when I’m presenting care I know I can deliver. Only this time Bruno is suited up in a barber’s smock with red stripes on its sleeves.
So this past weekend, I attended Supreme Invisalign Commander Dr. David Galler’s Reingage course for the second time. And no, the Wolf of Invisalign didn’t make me do it; it wasn’t remedial. I volunteered. Honest.
As Day Two was drawing to an end, David talked about dentists as a group; about how ours was different from other professions. It was like somewhere deep down, we were all somehow broken. It was like we were prone to second-guessing ourselves even when we were trained and prepared almost to an OCD fault.
But thanks to David, one of the most generous souls I’ve ever met, I now know the answer and I’m totally on my way from Premier to Elite Invisalign status. Nothing’s gonna stop me. I’m leaving the past in the past and movin’ on.
So goodbye Bruno the thug and goodbye dental school Brunos too! You’re both dead to me now…unless I see you on Highway 5, where in my mind; you’ll both be driving between LA and Anaheim…for eternity!!! I’ve got your delicate flower right here!!!
Think I’ll sit down and maybe have an Arnold Palmer or something. I know; I’ll watch the Wolf’s viral Youtube wave thing for a little while…that’s the ticket.
But…watch out Monday, there’s a new artist in town!