Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Soulfish Stew Is Trippin'

High school. Damn, it's been 21 years since I roamed the halls of Riverdale. 21 years since I ate two orders of french fries and two chocolate milks for lunch every day of the school week. 21 years plus since I overflowed toilets, kicked bricks out of the walls, and set the fire extinguisher box on fire - this all happened during the difficult sophomore slump year. 21 years since lots of stupid crud mattered. For starters why was everybody obsessed with the slang term tripping?

The reason I'm bringing this up is because I started taking the time to actually look at my old Riverdale annuals this past week. I originally wrote about getting my yearbooks back in the month of May and I doubt very many people saw the post since Soulfish Stew was in the middle of an extended vacation/hiatus then. I promised back then that I would have more on the subject and I'm not one to break a promise to my loyal readers. If you want to read the original Yearbook Staff missive feel free, but for now the first little bit will get me to where I want to go.

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 glance 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's filters.

Trippin'. That's what almost everybody wrote in my 1984 junior Lance And Shield. I was a trip. We had some tripping times. Keep tripping this summer. What a trip it's been. It was a term that had vanished from my mind which led me first to wonder how that could have happened. Perhaps the hippie stank of such slang couldn't co-exist with the punk rock credos slamdancing through my head. Whatever the case I had forgotten and now it appears that I'll have some explaining if my children ever start reading the entries left by all of my classmates - who were most of those people anyway. The signings make it appear like we were all drug crazed partiers obsessed with goofing off and having fun at all times. Where are all the entries about how we studied hard and hey; hope you enjoy your summer readings.

The truth is that we were all about having fun and goofing off as much as the teachers let us get away with in those days. And this was a trip. When something broke the spell of boredom we would have ourselves a tripping time. And speaking for myself; all without the use of extra stimulates. I was also, to believe the entrants, always doing wild and crazy things, always bringing in rock and roll magazines, into rocking my life away, a sharer of Willy Wonka candies, a Van Halen fanatic with multiple references to seeing me at their next concert, and just a generally cool dude.

A few entries stand out. The Gonz took up a whole page talking about all of the great times we'd had in the year and how much better it would have been if L.G. hadn't been around. L.G. was the demon spawn girlfriend of the dude with the wicked mullet and the Trans Am, Jeff, who would take us to see Ted Nugent. Not that I would ever forget about going to see the Nuge, but Jeff's entry in my annual is all about going to the concert later that night of April 20, 1984. It was going to be tripping to see Ted so all I needed to do was relax while Jeff drove us all to rocking land. That's a memorable signing with its at the time contemporary event juxtaposing sharply with all of the "wow we had some tripping fun" entries.

The sweetest entry and the one that got me choked up in the usual sentimental Wally way was by a girl I barely knew. She was a senior in '84 and I can't recall how in the heck I even knew her. She wrote that it was almost over for her and that I had another year to go. And that it would go fast. The word trip was not involved in her post. I probably scoffed at the notion then of time going by quickly, but now that it's been 21 plus years since she wrote those words I understand what she meant and I marvel at how her grown up view contrasts with all of the childishness vividly on display. What a trip.

1. v./adv. (derived from "tripping") To act like someone who is hallucinating or on an acid trip. To do something that others find strange. "Girl, why you trippin' . . . he ain't all that!"

No comments: