Monday, September 14, 2009

Friendship and it's vagaries

The Gateway years mark the beginning of my slow inexorable slide into being a complete non-entity. In Wenonah, while I may have been picked on occasionally, I still had a certain presence and friends who I'd known for many years. High school however completely confounded me. I was unable to find a persona that worked. It seemed to me that all my friends were able to change, to grow up, to be a cool person. Having worked with high school kids for many years now I know that I was wrong on at least that count. The odds are that every one of my friends and acquaintances felt as goony as I did. The difference was that they felt goony with cool kids and I felt goony all alone.
I've always been a big reader and this isolation made me a bigger reader. Books were a place I could go to and imagine myself as someone different. A brave soldier, or a lawyer fighting for the common man, or a wilderness scout in the 1800's. Anything other than a kid in corduroy pants, a plaid long sleeve shirt, and two giant cowlicks. The only thing I was spared was pimples. Thank God for small favors.
My cool friends would hang out with me now and again and in class kids I admired would talk with me and listen to me but once that was done I was back to geekdom. Me, Jim Maddox, Grant Karsner, and Bruce Zahn sitting at the cafeteria table just hoping nothing bad would happen to us for the next twenty minutes.
Meanwhile kids were walking around wearing desert boots and jeff caps and Beetle jackets and had cool dress shirts with fairy loops. Not this boy. We were still shopping in Pitman for clothes and Pitman was anything but cool so you can imagine a men's store in Pitman would be the antithesis of cool.
Eighth Grade! Five long years stretched out in front of me till I could go away to college and ditch these losers. It seemed like my life was to be an eternal torment and that was not a bad prediction at least for the forseeable future.


Bob Thomas said...


You didn't seem all that goony to me. I remember going camping with you down to Cape Hatteras one spring weekend. The weather could be almost as nice on the Cape as in FL with much less driving while South Jersey was still stuck in the end of winter grayness.

Whose VW bug did we have with the brakes that would sometimes go all the way to floor? I remember us flying through a toll booth because we couldn't stop - actually we went by it - not through it - and lucky we were that no one's car was blocking the booth. We had to back up to pay and the toll collector was pretty upset with us.

We may have financed the trip by doing an overnight printing delivery for Mr. Lundquist to some firm in Raleigh?

Were you driving or was I?

It was a good trip though - nice weather till the winds picked up the night before we had to head home - but lots of stars and wind and waves and fun.

Edgar Allen P-38s! Remember?

There were some bright days in those gloomy high school years, eh?

Jim Maddox said...

The perceptions we had of ourselves at the time were reinforced by our behavior. I also retreated into books, but along with that I had my friend Steve Kay who shared many of the same interests. You were fortunate not to be cursed with pimples; I did not escape that until our Junior year when my skin decided to calm down. I also had that awful crew cut which made me stick out even more.

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