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.