The Year I Invented Myself

My first actor headshots, age 14

My Real Memoir

Almost the moment we hit our teens, we become sentient beings. Before that we’re racoons: too clever for our own good (or at least our parents’ good), and basically untamable. Not that as teenagers we’re any more tameable—less so, really—but the difference is that now we disobey with a sense of being right. And since we’re obviously smarter than our parents, or any adults for that matter, the onus is on us to figure out who and what we are.

And so, as I entered the second half of my 8th Grade year, I began to invent myself. I think of it as having been given a Car when I was born. The Car is my life—my body, my mind, my soul (or will), and maybe, just maybe, a mysterious transmitter/receiver of some sort.

Of course, being a child, I didn’t understand what the Car was for, or even that it was for something. I slept in the back seat, swung on the doors, hid in the trunk, played with the knobs and shifter. As I got older, I discovered I could turn on the lights, store treasure in the glove compartment, and listen to the radio!

And then, at puberty, I found the key to that big thing in the front: the motor. When I first turned it on, it scared me. It made the whole Car shake, and got really hot! But it warmed me, and I could cook on it. Then I discovered that, if I moved the shifter while the motor was running, the Car would move! Forward was best, backward was kind of boring (only older people liked going backward).

And so I was off! But to where? Didn’t know. Didn’t care. I had a car, My Car, and I was driving! By age 13, I’d discovered storytelling, art, movies, music, guitars and kissing. I loved roaring around in My Car. It didn’t matter where I went (if there even was a “where”). I was in love with my car and in love with driving!

By spring, I was taking guitar lessons and getting my first actor headshots done at a place called the Children’s Screen Actors Guild, who’d informed my mom that I had “rare talent!” (they were later busted as a front for an overpriced photography studio). I’d also taken over our school’s barely-supervised Advanced Drama class, and chosen our spring drama production. It was a Danny Thomas Show episode, not one that had been made, but a spec script written by my Hollywood writer/producer/actress-wannabe grandmother (yes, I’m a chip of the old grandma-block).

I cast myself as Danny and the prettiest girl in class as my wife. Then I tried to direct, but two things got in the way: 1) The class didn’t see why their fellow-student should be in charge, and 2) I had no clue how to direct a play, especially with a castful of ex-racoons. I just wanted to make people laugh, and to kiss the girl. Neither happened. The spring production dissolved like fertilizer in the school flower beds.

And yet I remained undaunted. I still had My Car and was determined to keep on driving. I mean, that was what you did, right? That was life. It didn’t occur to me until a decade later that I hadn’t actually created My Car, only how I used it, and that if Someone else had, then maybe, just maybe, there was something more to life than simply driving until I ran out of gas…

Something like a Destination.

My Real Memoir is a series. To read the next one, click here.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in Humor, Memoir, Movies and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

34 Responses to The Year I Invented Myself

  1. Pingback: When Life Gives You Compound Fractures | Mitch Teemley

  2. Pam Webb says:

    Raccoons. I might have to ask your permission to borrow this for a middle read plot. In fact, the entire post deserves its own book.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Indeed, I left armature radio and bought a flathead 74 and chopped it. Sold my radio stuff for chrome plating and I was obnoxiously loud. Rattling the windows of the short block library. Reinvented as Brando Jr. “what are you rebelling against?” “I dunno, what’ya got?”

    Liked by 3 people

  4. #hood says:

    something you discovered at age 11

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I would’ve hired you – love the headshots!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Wonderful analogies!! (Loved the “car” as a vehicule for getting your point across. 🙂 Great storytelling!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Reaseaorg says:

    So interesting how our experiences with a car can evolve over the years. I think from sitting in a baby car seat to enjoying the motorway behind the wheel is some transition 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thanks Mitch. It brings back memories. You could roll up a piece of paper and use the cigarette lighter to start it smouldering and pretend you were smoking. I never really heard my parents catch on to that, although they would tell us to stop playing in the car.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. murisopsis says:

    This made me smile and nod in agreement! Also having worked with racoons and ex-racoons I feel you got it 100% correct!!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. gpavants says:


    Love the idea if the car, the dream and the journey. Glad you found this early and set you on course for life. In Christ,


    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m always in awe when a person discovers their passion so early. What a great gift – even if you didn’t know how to steer, you set your course.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Dashing photographs, I would have booked you! Great symbolism too Mitch.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Thotaramani says:

    You were so naughty in the teenage Mitch! Hope you are continuing the same.😊

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Hey, I remember that guy! Love the imagery! 😄

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Damyanti Biswas says:

    By the age of 13 huh? Wow, quite talented for such a young age 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Those are great headshots, Mitch. You knew then that your car was driving in the right direction. You’ve certainly shown your acting prowess in your latest endeavors!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Nancy Ruegg says:

    Can’t help but notice the innocent expression in each of your headshots, Mitch. You were acting even in a photo shoot!! / Seriously, wonderful metaphor you’ve chosen for life–driving a car. Looking forward to further development as you describe your teens and twenties!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. burtonmedia7 says:

    I need to re-invent myself.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Pingback: If-Then: My Teenage Equation | Mitch Teemley

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