Last night we had open house at Zoe’s high school and it’s taken me a couple of hours to find my way back to 2008. I had to dig myself out from under the 2,000+ flashbacks that smacked me upside the head and then sat on me.
Who remembers high school? Better yet … who wants to remember high school?
Oh stop, you don’t have to be kind. We can all see the elephant in the room which decided to park its ass smack dab in the middle of my face. As much as it looks like it’s capable of doing so, it won’t reach out and touch you. Had we met in real life in 1985, I would have told you to step back and give it some room and for God’s sake, don’t feed the thing. Thankfully I had a nose job when I was twenty. Otherwise, I don’t think I could have looked anyone in the eye for fear of poking it out. At least my hair doesn’t look half as big as it really was and I don’t have an inch of make up spread on my face. I must have been going for the subtle look here, except for that blue nun’s habit I was wearing.
I graduated from Hilton High School in 1985 which was twenty-three OH MY GOD years ago. I didn’t hate high school. I didn’t love it either. I guess I didn’t have an opinion one way or the other … it was just some place I went to during the day because I lived in Hilton and there was nothing else to do. Not that I could have gone any place else even if there was something to do there because I didn’t have a car and all the cows held grudges and refused to give anyone a ride after a busy night of tipping.
I had a small, tight knit group of friends and I spent my days earning good grades and applying blue and purple eye shadow and hair spraying my hair and adjusting my shoulder pads so they were not askew.
I love that word, askew. Askew. AAAAAAssssss-keeeewwwwwww. God bless me. Can someone pass me a tissue?
My high school had no walls … just partitions that stood only 3/4 of the way up to the ceiling. We could hear everything going on in all the classrooms around us and, depending on where we sat, we could see everything going on as well. This got a little irritating when you were trying to concentrate on trigonometry while your best friend in social studies next door was doing her best to distract you with hand signals and an occasional burp. But it did come in handy when you wanted to stare at your boyfriend in earth science during sixth period instead of at Miss Bouchee, the ugly five hundred pound ball of smell stuffed into a pleated skirt that hung ten inches above her knee highs and whose only goal in life was to teach you how to conjugate a verb in French.
I’d like to say our high school didn’t have walls because it was so progressive, so ahead of its time, so avant-garde. That sounds a lot better than WALLS? LIKE, IN HOUSES AND STUFF? YOU NEED THEM THINGS? DAYUM, CAINT YOU JES PRETEND OR SUMPIN?
Shhhhhhhhhhh. If you listen carefully, you’ll hear a bunch of cow tippers whispering “Avant garde? Ain’t those the dudes wearing the fuzzy black hats guardin’ that castle thing way over there on that England continent place?”
Anyway … back to Zoe’s open house. We followed her schedule in ten minute increments. Her schedule is actually divided into ten day cycles with each day being broken into five blocks which are then broken into sub-blocks A and B. Just looking at her printed schedule is mind boggling. Back in my time, you just went to any class that had a free seat and if the teacher didn’t kick you out, that was what you studied that day. I got a very eclectic education.
I really liked all of Zoe’s teachers. They seemed so engaged and so enthusiastic and so not there just to collect a paycheck. Not at all like Mr. Cooke, one of Hilton’s finest, who used to sit at his desk in English class at 9:00 a.m., drinking his lunch, mumbling something about Romeo getting a raw deal, and waiting for his next scheduled nervous breakdown, completely oblivious to his students who were busy building car engines in the back row.
Zoe’s French teacher is the antithesis of Miss Bouchee. She didn’t wear a pleated skirt, she didn’t smell, she didn’t weigh more than North Dakota and she didn’t have the attitude of a sewer rat. I think she actually likes kids. I knew I would like her when she told us she better not catch her students texting in class unless it was in French.
Zoe’s photography teacher taught Zoe how to make a camera out of a five inch circular piece of cardboard and damn if that thing didn’t take better pictures that my DSLRTCALOM.
We were shocked to discover that her geometry teacher used to be Nate’s geometry teacher twenty-five years ago, which made Nate feel really old and the teacher feel dead. But he was nice enough to pretend to remember Nate.
We really liked her art teacher, Mr. S., who declared that he doesn’t grade according to any scale whatsoever because art is totally subjective and as long as the students show up and give their best effort, they’ll ace the class. Where was he twenty-nine years ago? I could have used him when I was fourteen and sweating over a still life for weeks until I was almost finished before my art teacher decided to play Nazi and move a bottle, telling us we needed to learn how to adapt to our ever changing environment and let our creativity flow accordingly. Excuse me? Obsessive-compulsive control freaks are genetically incapable of adapting to new environments. They are allergic to flow, so PUT THE BOTTLE BACK, BITCH. I would have loved a teacher like Mr. S who doesn’t strike me as sadistic in any way. I was really curious about his missing finger though and wanted to know if he lost it in a kiln accident or something but Nate hustled me out of there before I could ask.
I think I was most impressed with Zoe’s English teacher, Mrs. W. She intends to grade them individually but will divide them into groups to participate in challenges centered around Of Mice and Men, Around the World in Eighty Days and The Odyssey, to name a few. Each member of a group will earn points and the group with the most points at the end of a unit gets a free ride on the unit test. In addition, they’ll be acting out Romeo and Juliet and the Capulets will take on the Montagues in a classroom version of Family Feud. When they get to the unit on Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul, the parents will have to sign a waiver so the students can watch an episode of South Park as a means of bridging the gap between past and current social satire.
How cool is that class going to be? I want to take it. If I iron my face and neck, paint over my age spots, die my hair and lose forty pounds, I wonder if I can pass as a really old looking freshman and sit in the back row. I mean, it’s such a far cry from the “Read this, answer this, due tomorrow, don’t be late, NO GUM ALLOWED” that I remember from my English class.
And how many of you are thinking OH MY GOD, THEY KILLED KENNY right now?
(My father is, at this moment, complaining to my mother that I am writing in code. My mother is standing behind my father, reading over his shoulder, shaking her head and declaring something to the effect of for crying out loud, Andy, make some sense. We live 800 miles apart but I can hear them clear as a bell. I’ll be getting a phone call later today asking where South Park is and why am I killing Kenny?)
Because we were unfamiliar with Zoe’s high school, we managed to get a bit lost and wound up a bit late to one class and damned if I didn’t feel like I should head directly to the principal’s office for a pass. In another class, Nate sat right behind me and poked me in the back the entire time, thereby making me so thankful that I met him later in life because had I known in high school his potential for irritating me, Helena would not be walking this earth right now.
At one point, we cut through the library and immediately I was filled with teen angst and my hair grew four inches taller and feathered itself. I wanted to grab Nate, jump up on the railing, belt out We Are Not Alone and start shaking my body to the ground. If I closed my eyes and concentrated really hard, maybe Claire, Brian, Bender, Andrew and Allison would come falling out of the ceiling and join us.
Ring Ring Ring
Me: Hi Mom
Mom: Andy, what are you doing on your blog? You’re writing gibberish and your father is worried you got hit on the head and forgot to tell us. Why are people falling from the ceiling?
Me: Only Bender fell. They all danced in the library. It’s an iconic scene from The Breakfast Club, Mom. It’s a movie. Go rent it. You’ll see.
Mom (calling to Dad): Peter! Peter! She says it’s some breakfast movie. No, her head is fine. (To me) Andy? Where’s South Park? Is that near Buffalo? And who is Kenny and why are you killing him?
Me: I’m not killing anyone, Mom. South Park is a raunchy cartoon made for adults and Kenny is a character that gets killed off every episode.
Mom (calling to Dad): Peter! PETER! Are you listening to me? She says South Park is an adult cartoon. Nobody’s killing anybody, Kenny is apparently fictional. PETER! Did you hear me? What did you say? I have no idea, she gets it from your side of the family.
Open house at Zoe’s high school really brought me back to my own high school days, where jocks and brains and heads (druggies) and freaks spent six hours a day avoiding all social circles but their own. I didn’t really belong to any one group but I did have some friends in most of them. I was smart but not totally brainy so the brains were nice to me but didn’t invite me to their Mensa meetings. I was the farthest thing from a jock possible but my brother was BEST JOCK EVER and so were all of his friends so I was tolerated by association. I never did drugs in high school and never ventured into the school’s smoking lounge which wasn’t an actual lounge with couches and stuff, lest you think I went to some back asswards kind of school. No, the smoking lounge was that area on the second story sidewalk, overlooking the parking lot, where the druggies would take their drags before, during and after class. I had friends who called the smoking lounge homeroom and they never held my choices against me. The one group I never did get close to was the freaks and I think that was because I chose to wash my hair and take showers. With soap.
Walking through the halls last night, I found myself wondering who’s got my locker now, who’s sitting in my seat in Room 6B and does the lunchroom still have that smell?
I wondered how my parents liked high school. I wondered if Zoe would love it.
Would anyone from either of their generations relate to a Claire, a Brian, a Bender, an Andrew or an Allison? Would they care about what five teenagers discovered of themselves one Saturday afternoon in a detention full of over-acting, really bad dialogue, brilliant quotes and an awesome soundtrack?
What do you remember from high school? Do you relate to anyone from The Breakfast Club?
Or have you blocked it out for your own mental well being?