Some lessons, of course, are more appropriate to a certain age or stage of development. For example, my latter teenage years into my early twenties was a time when I was just smart enough to get myself into situations I was still too stupid to get out of. Later, as evidenced by Sam's insistence that I finish what I started, I found out there is wisdom that can only come from being old enough to know how much there is to learn from children. And in the time since that milestone, I have remained a humble and grateful student of, if not the School of Hard Knocks, then at least the University of the Universal. I didn't pick my courses; they picked me. And just as there was no formal matriculation, neither was there any graduation. There were, of course, plenty of tests.
Just to reassure you, I'm not one of those swaggering jerks who, having achieved success after dropping out of school, promotes the fiction that a higher education is a complete waste of time. All the same, I sometimes employ my lack of academic standing as a subtle goad to those who would make character judgments based solely on one's alma mater or post-graduate degree.
As executive producer of Spin City, I was responsible for hiring and managing an astoundingly bright collection of young comedy writers, many of them graduates from prestigious universities: Dartmouth, Yale, Princeton, and Harvard, to name an ivy-covered few. Inspired by the irony that I was the boss of such a lettered group of individuals, and, honestly, perhaps a little intimidated, I thought I'd have some fun with it. I amassed a collection of T-shirts from some of the finest schools in the country. Among others, I had a burgundy Harvard tee and a Stanford Cardinal jersey. An old Dartmouth baseball shirt was a personal favorite. "Now," I announced to the wunderkinds, assembled for one of our first meetings of season one, "if you see me wearing a shirt from your alma mater, say Yale, for example" (with this I'd sneak a glance at an eager young Eli whose specialty was fart jokes), "then that means it's your day to get me coffee." Okay, so I am capable of a modicum of swaggering jerkitude.
A scant few minutes of Wikipedic surveying will uncover an impressive roster of well-known people, in every arena of public life, who have attained success and recognition without ever having graduated from high school. Those I most relate to are, of course, the actors and entertainers, whose early life experiences were no doubt similar to my own, propelled by a common group of neuroses toward careers in show business. These include such estimable personages as Leonardo DiCaprio, Johnny Depp, Robert De Niro, Chris Rock, Kevin Bacon, John Travolta, Hilary Swank, Jim Carrey, Charlie Sheen, Sean Connery, Al Pacino, and Quentin Tarantino.