Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Yearbook Staff

My mother, who just turned 70, is getting married again. That's weird and cool at the same time, but even weirder was getting my old yearbooks from her house

over the weekend. She's moving so the less she has to take the better. I hadn't looked at the yearbooks in years and I've only given them a cursory look so far,

but their nostalgic voodoo is strong. Feathered back hair, concert shirts, braces, freaks, geeks, jocks, preppies, old teachers, and the living and the dead peer back

in black and white along with a few pages of faded Kodak color scenes whose meanings have changed, faded, or intensified. The banalities left by most of the "signers"

of my yearbooks will make great fodder for a future post, but for now its only randomness that percolates through the years' filters.


There's L.G. who not only conspired against my pursuit of her friend Paige, but then weaseled her way into the heavy metal triumvirate of myself, J.B., and the Gonz when

she went to a Ted Nugent concert with us and Toby. I had tried to soften my stance toward since she had become J.B.'s girlfriend, but after the Nuge show I resumed full

on hate. She fell asleep during the concert! How can anybody fall asleep during a Nuge set? The girl was obviously demon spawn. I usually would hang out with J.B. and

Gonz every morning since if L.G. was around Paige would often be too, but my days of caring about being cool trying to impress her were winding down. Forgetting about Paige helped me to break away from those heavy metal parking lot days.


"Back In Black" was the catalyst. Kiss ruled my thoughts from 5th grade on, but I didn't know they were metal. AC/DC came along when I was in junior high as my musical

knowledge expanded from hanging out on the peripheral of the freaks. My 8th grade annual is full of photos of glaring long haired freak kids with their baseball jersey

rock logo shirts. I attended Thurman Francis in Smyrna that year and it's still the best public school experience I ever had. There was a jukebox in the cafeteria and in that

spring of 1981 AC/DC dominated each lunch break. It didn't play softly. That jukebox was cranked up so loud you could barely hear the milk cartons burst when we'd pop them after chugging down their contents. T.F.J.H. was the place where I saw the freaks and jocks crack each other's skulls. It was a place where the 9th grade hallway was dubbed "Murder Hall" due to its narrow width. The joke then was that going down it was like trying to get into a Who concert in Cincinnati.


T.F.J.H. was where I had my best science teacher. When I was a very small kid I always said I wanted to grow up to be a scientist. White lab coats and bubbling chemistry tubes were what I thought about then. I soon learned that science was not very easy and that often math would be involved. So I gravitated away toward social studies and English. Ms. Dawson not only taught science; she also lived right down my street. So when it came time to do a 6 week long project for a grade we were allowed to provide up front for a target she wasn't having it when I said I'd shoot for a B. "You've made A's all year so I'm putting you down for an A or I'll have to come see your parents about this B nonsense." There was no doubt she knew where I lived so I went for the A which I ended up getting. It was a great lesson in always shooting for excellence; one which I remember much better than any of the actual classwork.


Getting the yearbooks back also reminds me of the year I didn't get one. I despised my freshman year at Oakland in Murfreesboro. I was out of touch with the planet it

seems. I had a strange mix of classes: gym class where I made the mistake of bragging about how good I was at basketball (I was decent in Smyrna, but in Murfreesboro

I was terrible), industrial arts (wood shop, electronics, graphic arts, metal shop, agriculture, and building trades for 6 weeks at a time), 2nd level English (I should have

been in college prep), science, algebra, and study hall. Gym class had a huge amount of kids and the jocks ran it. Industrial arts was okay sometimes; other times I was

slicing a finger on a band saw. English was a complete joke. Kids set other kids' hair on fire in study hall. Algebra was full of preppies who didn't know what to think of me. I'd wear concert t-shirts over long sleeve flannel which for some reason led the other kids to think I was on drugs (I wasn't). Then there was science which seemed to be

90% freaks popping speed and 'ludes during class. One dude even ate worms during biology. If ever a year didn't need documenting, that was the one.


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