4:34 p.m. - 2006-03-08
I graduated from High School in 1980. I was never so glad to be rid of an educational institution in my life! I disliked high school so much. I was a below-average student and I really wanted to dropout when I was 16, but I knew there was nowhere for me to go, so I might as well tough it out for the two more years.
During those ugly years I was not one of the popular bunch. As was defined by a teen mind in those years. I had a very small group of misfit friends I hung out with, but none of us were ever kids that felt we could fit into the “right” crowds. I, among others, was often the target for mean streaked, juvenile, nasty pranks.
One such occasion was me quietly sitting at my desk doing my work, when one of the “in” boys walked up to my desk and offered me a ‘Mojo’. A small, semi hard, wrapped candy, much like a Starburst (but not as sweet/tart). The minute the little gem was in my palm I knew this was no ordinary ‘gift’. This gift was ABC – Already Been Chewed, and re-wrapped perfectly for misdirection. Did I look like I just fell off the turnip truck? The snickers from a small grouping of desks just a few feet away confirmed any suspicions I may have had – always the same group of girls that openly showed great scorn and disgust at anyone ‘beneath’ them. (I can still remember their names)
Needless to say – I didn’t eat it.
Now back to the future - 2 or 3 years ago I was back in my old High School hometown. My mom was very excited at our visit (naturally), but she was equally insistent that I go with her to the local grocery store. There was ‘something’ that I just had to see.
Dutifully I went.
I could tell that my mom was searching for someone in particular, and she wouldn’t unhand my sleeve. I think she feared I would dash, given half a chance.
Finally the person she was looking for came out from behind the Tobacco/Lottery tickets counter. I’ll give you one guess who it was. Yes – it was one of the girls from that nasty ‘in’ crowd and candy incident. She was ecstatic to see me and rushed away from paying customers to greet and hug me. I could feel the years of resentment flood back over me. It was as if I was 16 all over again – only this would never have happened when I was 16.
It’s funny what ghosts haunt you from our childhoods. What situations stay with you, and continue to evoke certain feelings.
This now woman was a fellow classmate and graduate of 1980. She saw a completely different view of the high school than I remembered. Not to say that she was right and I’m wrong, or vice-versa. It was just different. Her memory held fond thoughts of me obviously. Mine, did not, of her.
I have since (often) revisited that scene in the grocery store, and I’ve changed my mind on a few things. I am so thankful that I am not the person I was when I was a teenager, and there are a certain group of girls whom I hope have also grown beyond the teenage experience.
I wonder were they all are now.