High School Stories (uno)
My nephew is a freshman in high school, and already having trouble with a rumor spread around the school like a brushfire. He’s a tough kid, with a big mouth, and very active in sports. He’ll survive, but he’s quickly learning that high school is its own experience with higher highs and lower lows than other grades in the public k-12 system.
In that vein, here are some anecdotal stories of my experience to remind you what it was like:
I was sitting in class, vaguely paying attention to the teacher when a girl I knew as a psued0-friend came to the window in the door. She stood out in the hallway and motioned at me. Shocked, I nodded to acknowledge her communication. She was trying to mouth words to me from the hall, but I couldn’t make them out, so I kept making a “What?” sort of gesture, and cupping my hand behind my ear. That’s pretty clever sign language, I know. This continues several times until finally she’s calling me out to the hallway. Clearly she’s got something to tell me. Maybe she couldn’t help herself and had to come get me from class to confess her secret crush on me. I can’t just get up and leave class though, or should I? Right before I decide to calmly excuse myself to the hallway to accept this gift from my new admirer, the girl behind me gets up, smiling, and walks out to the hall to meet her friend who was apparently not talking to me at all.
Dating the friend
I don’t know how I wound up around a girl that was in a class below mine, but somehow I developed a crush on her. She was the younger sister of a kid in my class too, which only made things worse. I’d walk over to her house to hang out with hopes that she’d pick up my signals and want me to be her boyfriend. Jeez, high school is dumb. Time after time, and attempt after attempt, she seemed only slightly interested. Finally she pulls me aside. She pulls me close and whispers into my ear that her very heavy and obnoxious friend with the wild and crazy hair and lack of any “inside-voice” really likes me. I’m in this to win this, so I figure that by dating her friend, she’ll appreciate my efforts and I’ll get her to return my affections.
The obnoxious girl’s mother brought her over to my house, several times, unannounced and a little overzealous of her daughter’s new boyfriend. My parents were uncomfortable with this, thinking I’d arranged it secretly. She’d come in, go to my room and close the door. Of course she closed the door. I’d spend the next hour dodging her in my own room and avoiding every heavy handed pass at physical contact until finally making up something I had to do and taking her home with my brand new driver’s license.
Although we never officially broke up, I stopped talking to her. That didn’t win me any points whatsoever with the friend I did like and they both hated me. It’s for the best though, I think. The girl I was interested in continued to not date, and the girl who chased me around my room was spotted barefoot and pregnant, holding a baby, at the local WalMart store not more than 3 years later. The cute friend caught me delivering pizza at her work once, and paid me $20+ in change with a smile.
Who is that guy?
I had a great friend in high school, who I’d known for a long time. He was a bit dorky, but so I was I and it allowed me to be the cool kid in our friendship. I’d mess with him in the way that asshole high school kids did. I’d unzip his backpack and pull stuff out of it, then hand that stuff to him in class or something lame like that. He would get mad, but overall he was a very even-tempered kid. He loved to read, and had a great interest in history. He carried a backpack with all of his school books and supplies and personal books and maybe even some action figures.
His parents had a lot of land, and I was good with computers from an early age, so I’d take a copy of the Anarchist’s Cookbook over to his place on a floppy disk and we’d screw around with stuff we shouldn’t. Once we burned an old tree down with home made napalm. Kids… One day, during a convocation on drug testing and searching, he stood up from his seat next to me in the auditorium with his giant backpack in tow. He spoke calmly, but loudly, that the school had no right to test and search our personal belongings and has he spoke he left the seat beside me and walked the aisles passing out hand-made fliers about privacy rights with quotes for all the students.
He was a celebrity in that moment. We never hung out anymore and barely had a chance to speak because he was hoisted up on a throne or in trouble with the school for the rest of our high school career. I saw him a couple years later, on the street in college while going to various house parties on a road near campus. He barely knew me.
There are groups of people who form “cliques” in any environment, but high school seemed to be the home of the clique. I had friends in many groups, which was a bit of a luxury because I could hang out with older kids, band kids, smart kids and so on. Still, I never considered myself part of the smart kid group. It wasn’t about intelligence at all, but rather about money. The smart kid group seemed to have wealthy parents and my family couldn’t afford to buy me Polo shirts and Dockers shorts for school. I was more into black rock t-shirts and jeans, anyway. It just set up a mental separation for me.
In that group was a very smart and very attractive girl who never really paid me any special attention, but always seemed very nice. One day, during class session I was running late and in a hurry to get to class. Nerve-wrecked over something I don’t remember and rushing up the stairs, I slowed as I saw another student on the next set of stairs. I didn’t want to look lame for hurrying, you know. The person in the hallway was her and as we passed on the landing she very clearly whispered “I love you, Jon Scott”.
I didn’t respond. It was like my legs were on a mission, my body must comply and my voice was missing in action. I thought and thought about it, but what could I do now? What if I had misheard? What would I say? She paid less attention to me than before and the story ended there without me ever returning so much as a “thank you, you’re a nice person”.
Those are a few stories from my high school experience. Just recounting them makes me realize the missed opportunities, the awkwardness and the feeling that I wasn’t popular enough. Looking back, I’d change a lot, but I imagine the experience was similar for most.
Do you have a story to share? If you’d rather do a High School Stories blog post, put your link in the comments and I’ll post it here as well.