Friday, July 24, 2009

Some Universal Truths About High School

Because so many of my friends are, of late, having babies, buying houses, getting hitched and losing spouses, I got hit by a tidal wave of nostalgia last night, and decided to unearth all my old high school yearbooks. It was terrifying. And, I'll begrudgingly admit, enlightening. And so, here, for your entertainment:

Some universal truths about high school
1. No One looks good in braces. Your parents lied. Your orthodontist lied. Trust me on this one.
2. Bangs just weren't that attractive in the 90's. (There. I said it) Neither was flannal. I should know. I owned enough of it.
3. Despite the amount of time you spent obsessing over it, mortified to the core, no one actually remembers the time you dropped your lunch tray in the cafeteria, splattering mashed potatoes all over Aaron Logan's shoes. They do; however, remember with great clarity the time you tripped up the back stairwell, while late to class, the day you wore a skirt. (FML for choosing that day to sport the green & pink polka dotted cotton undies).
4. Ten, 15, maybe even 20 years after the fact, every single one of you will find one of those little black combs from picture day. It might be tucked away in a basket under the cabinet, it might be buried in a box in the closet, you might still carry it around in your purse. But when you pull it out, you will absolutely have the urge to bend it back and forth until the plastic heats up, just to see if you can break the Unbreakable Comb.
5. There will always be that one person in your class that just drops off the face of the earth. No one knows what happened to them. It's natural, just go with it. I like to think they're off in some remote third-world country doing a stint with Doctors without Borders (rather than working the drive-thru at the Sonic two towns over). There will also be that one classmate who shows up at the 10-year reunion looking like a super model, even though you swear they ate paste in the third grade. This person will never be you.
6. People Change. Or, perhaps more accurately, people grow up. the high school bully may very well still be a water cooler hog. And the quiet, mousy girl in the back row of your English Lit. class may well be the world's quietest court stenographer somewhere in Idaho. But, chances are that the intervening years have molded us into far better and more interesting people. At least I hope so. The years may have been hard on some of us and generous to others, but they go trudging on whether we're ready for them to or not. And, usually it's these difficult moments: The loss of a job, a friend, a loved one, a parent, that forces us to do that which we fear - grow up. These times shape our character. Our lives are lived in the interruptions, in our mistakes. So, even if all the girls do stop talking and giggling when you walk in the bathroom these days, take a deep breath and square your shoulders. Chances are, they aren't talking about you any more.
That being said, I'll go ahead and contradict myself by saying:
7. Some People NEVER Change. And there's a measure of comfort in that.
The band geeks are still the band geeks, they're probably just out tailgating at Verizon or White River, discussing the latest Big Takeover article instead of hiding out in the orchestra pit during lunch hour.The theater geeks are still the theatre geeks, they're probably just hosting a fundraiser for the Phoenix Theater or eking out a fabulous paycheck-to-paycheck living in the NYC, waiting for their big break. The art kids are still the art kids, holed up in exposed brick lofts along Mass Ave, participating in public Iron Pours and hosting gallery walk tours. The jocks are still the jocks, and can be found at various Indians games, Colts preseason parties, and hosting Junior's Saturday Soccer Tourney. The smart kids are still the smart kids, only now they're your manager, your CEO, pulling in six-figures and...wait... damn. Why wasn't I one of the smart kids again? Anyway...
There's nothing wrong with any of this. Never was. Those people you gravitated toward in your youth are the ones best equipped to provide you the support network necessary to help you survive until graduation.
High School, I suppose, is one of those necessary evils in life. It's a stepping stone, not the be-all, end-all that it seems like at the time. If you're lucky, you'll escape with a few good stories, a few good friends, an ensemble of embarrassing moments and a strong base on which to build your life.
And, at the very least, you can be glad you weren't the one sporting the green and pink polka-dotted cotton undies in front of 50 of your closest friends, who are never likely to let you forget it.
Until next time Class of '98-ers


  1. Solid! Though I know not which one was I. Likely an art kid/smart guy wanna be hybrid.

    Either way, I relish the fact that no one will remember the time I drank to much before the high school dance and wound up in the hospital. When did you say they will they stop remembering that?

  2. You're wrong. I will never find one of those combs because I destroyed all of the unbreakables on the day I received them. I'm pretty sure that was the only good thing about picture day (at least judging from what those pictures look like when I see them now).

    I have one additional truth to add that probably only applies to me...(and just know I'm a little morose today), even though you wish everyone would forget the embarrassing things you did, you still want them to remember you existed. As a result, it will hurt when you don't get invited to your high school reunion.


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