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No mulligans in life – or are there?

Post by Patrick O'Callahan on May 15, 2010 at 5:28 pm |
May 14, 2010 6:04 pm

Guerdwich Montimere, faux orphan and high school basketball star, had the audacity to live the loser’s daydream.

Here’s how it runs: You’re long out of school, but you’re suddenly 15 again, or 12, whatever. Unlike your first miserable, confused stumble through adolescence, you already know everything you learned then and since.

You’re savvy, sage, disciplined beyond your years. You know what the stakes really are. You do your homework this time around. You know that the Civil War happened in the 1800s. You don’t have petty feuds with classmates. You don’t egg the vice-principal’s house and get caught. You can actually talk to members of the opposite sex. When you disagree with Mom or Dad, he or she winds up saying, “Oh, you’re right. I guess that makes sense.”

They’re proud of you. You’re popular. You’re off to a whole new start, and you’re going to get everything right.

If this is an actual night-time dream, you are, unfortunately, also naked. Details, details.

Every few years, you read about a young-looking man – it always seems to be a man – who has tried this in real life. My all-time favorite is Michael Backman, a 31-year-old check-forger and car thief who decided (reasonably enough) he’d gotten off on the wrong track in life.

In 1998, Backman went back to the Portland high school he’d graduated from in 1986 and enrolled as “Deandre Deangelo,” a son of Diana Ross who’d transferred from Beverly Hills High. Yes, Diana Ross. Nobody would think of telling a whopper that big, right?

This guy was good. Four years earlier – well into his career of small-time crime – he’d talked his way into West Point with a fake transcript.

At Grant High School, “Deandre” impressed people with his social conscience, maturity and general coolness. He’d felt compelled to attempt his second act in the very same school where things had originally started going wrong; maybe that was the way to truly undo the past and future. In a few months, someone ratted him out.

In real life, there are no do-overs. That’s kind of built into the scheme of things, isn’t it? One birth, one adolescence, one death, etc. Clocks don’t run backward.

But wait: There have to be guys even slicker than Backman, or who at least have the sense to go back to a different high school. Maybe there are lots of ringers out there. Americans are the world champs at re-inventing themselves. Montimere passed for an amazing 15 months.

That poised, likeable jock all the kids at the local high school admire. Does anyone really know who he is?

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