Saturday, June 27, 2009

School Daze

Here in Canada, school is over for the summer now. One of my munchkins is officially going into high school soon, and I will be holding my breath as he starts to tread those shark-infested waters. He is the type of person who is so cool, he doesn't know he's cool. For most people, our high school experiences are not always our fondest memories. There are the usual suspects -- the "in-crowd", the "geeks and nerds", and the "in-betweens". Most of us fall into the category of "in-betweens", with occasional forays into either the "in-crowd" or the "geeks and nerds". The people who are able to navigate the waters best are the ones who don't really care which category they fall into. Whichever category my munchkin falls into, I hope he will be one of those folks who doesn't really care.

None of us escapes unscathed, however. When I was in high school, I fit squarely into the "in-betweens", but occasionally I was invited to a party by someone in the "in-crowd", only to be reminded that I didn't really belong there. The most devastating thing, however, is to be invited out by a "geek or nerd", and to a rather shallow high school person, that can flatten one's self-confidence in no time, let me tell you.

However, years later when we attend our 20 year high school reunion, the "in-crowd" folks are almost invariably the ones who have become fat and bald, and are working as a mechanic in the local service station. Or they're married to the guy who became fat and bald. Meanwhile, the "geeks and nerds" have blossomed into amazing people. Have you ever noticed that? It's almost a cliché. In the movie "Pretty in Pink", we just knew Duckie was going to become "über cool". Meanwhile, Steff, the bad boy -- and definitely the leader of the "in-crowd" -- has turned into William Shatner.

But, high school is a world of its own, and most of us are able to pass through it safely, somehow acquiring an education and not embarrassing ourselves too much in the process. And if we can survive the joys and heartbreaks as well, perhaps we can look back at those years as being -- at the very least -- not entirely unpleasant.

27 comments:

Jennifer D said...

So well written, like always. Its been 20 years since I graduated and you are totally correct! I loved Ducky, I just watched Pretty in Pink and Sixteen Candles a couple days ago. Makes me feel young again. Thanks for the tip about the comments. I had no idea.

A human kind of human said...

I find it so amazing that although we live half a world apart, we have the same experiences. It is exactly the same in our schools, only here it already starts in primary school.

HAPPY IN NEVADA said...

Aha, again you've hit a topic that just came up since my daughter is going to her 30th year high school reunion in July.

She wasn't a 'geek' (as I was); perfect little figure, and today she's giving away her old clothes to me because she's gained so much weight, she can't wear them anymore.

I go to my 50th reunion next year; I was 10 pounds underweight in school - it took me until I was 55 to finally hit the actual weight I was supposed to be.

I modeled starting at age 24 because models normally are 'thin'; how about that, I said. I continued to model until I was 60 years old (part time in CA).

I remember thinking how lucky I was after I left school; no more people calling me 'bones', or saying, "Hey, look at that string hanging from your skirt - oops - that's your leg....."

Being a skinny kid in the eyes of my friends the only saving grace was being good in all sports; music, art, and carrying "A's".....

It was nice moving away from my home-town shortly after graduation because after that, people never seemed to see me as my young teen friends had.

And you're also right: The guy that dated me in high school; so very handsome, etc., showed up at our 40th reunion 280 pounds (120 pounds more than in high school, but no taller); wearing glasses - nearly bald, and I didn't even recognize me until he spoke to me.

It wasn't just him; it was 90% of the class, and all of us thin and tiny guys and gals who'd taken all that teasing, were all looking darned spiffy and how grateful we all were that we had grown from ugly ducklings into pretty nice looking swans!

lovelyprism said...

I was solidly "in-between" in high school. I did my best to be invisible like wallpaper, I didn't want the teasing OR acceptance from either side. If I went to a reunion now I don't think anybody would remember me. Which, I suppose it ok because I looked at that Classmates.com and I didn't recognize an of them either! lol

Brenda said...

I have no clue what category I fit in. I think I fit in the snob category because I was shy and sometimes people see shyness as snobbery. I had a group of friends that I had a lot of fun with. Laughing hysterically, etc. I survived it and would never want to live through it again. I think it was probably the hardest part of life to get through. For me anyway...I am sure there are millions of people that have wonderful memories of High School. I never had any desire to go to the reunions. I often wonder if I stood in line at a store and a classmate was in front of me would I even recognize them. My mind would probably only be looking for that face from high school, so I doubt I would know.
You always come up with interesting topics Jo.

Leslie: said...

Well timed post, Josie. When I went to my 10th year reunion, everyone was checking out how the rest were doing, financially, etc. But at the 30th reunion, you could really see who had "made it" and who hadn't. The jocks were still the jocks and the really smart kids were just simple folk who hadn't bothered to captilize on their brains. The ones who really did "make it" were the "in-betweeners" who had to learn how to study and how to work to succeed. I just know Munchkin #1 is going to be a success!

Marcella said...

Your blog reminded me of a High School Class reunion I attended last year. From your description, I believe I was one of the in-betweens. Seems the other in-betweens I associated with at High School didn't make the reunion for one reason or another so there I was not sure who to attach myself to when I was invited by one of the High School Elite to join them. Either they must have changed or I had to be so privileged - tut,tut. It was interesting to get an insight into how their lives had paned out since 1956. Without trying to pat myself on the back I think I left them a little behind somewhere along the line. Now, being pleased to have been one of the in-betweens, I listened with interest and said little about myself.

susie said...

Good luck to your munchkin. I know he'll do just fine. I went to my 40th reunion two years ago. Hadn't gone since the 10th, and it was funny, sitting at the homecoming behind a bunch of the jocks from my class, and listening to them talk about how all the nerds had been so successful, and them with their bad knees, and all the lingering sports injuries. If only I had known then what I know now......

Thiea Arantxa said...

Hello Jo, I've been following your blog for months and I love your writings. I'm graduated from high school this year and I'll go to the college in September, and this post reminds me of my life in high school. I don't know which part I belong to, because I always kept silent and spent much time in library (just like what the "geeks" do), but I also went out for party and having much fun just like the "in-crowds" do. I fit the 2 beautifully, so do I belong to the "in-betweens"? XD
But whatever, the time has come. I'm not a kid anymore. ^^
Thank you for this post!

Russell said...

Well, let's see. I graduated from high school back in, well, uh, long before there were computers! Color TV had just sort of become common and the Beatles were still on the radio singing new songs.

I was not a jock and not in the cool group by any means. I was not an academic super star and not even in the rough kids group. I was just a farm kid who played the trumpet - that was my main thing and we had a good high school band.

High school was a good time for me overall but there were some challenges, too. I have found life is pretty much the same.

I have no idea how the kids turned out as I have never gone to one of my high school reunions. I just sort of lost touch with them I guess -- and I actually went to two different high schools so was caught in a bit of an in-between world - heh!

Marguerite said...

This is so true, Jo. There was a geek/nerd guy in high school, who had this intense crush on me, but I never went out with him. When I saw him at my 20th reunion, he was gorgeous and was an architect! Poetic justice!

Otherwise, I had an absolute blast in high school!

pranksygang said...

i love this post!! honestly i was a nerd in my school. A bold nerd might be correct! but now i'm bold but not a nerd! ha ha ha :) thanks for reminding me about my school days!

Miss_Nobody said...

I left high school this year,and I was the in-between type,sometimes siddling in with the "in-crowd" For me school days are over.And now college.Omg

the walking man said...

"become fat and bald, and are working as a mechanic in the local service station."

Umbrage madam, I take umbrage at this remark because i am fat and bald and worked diligently as a mechanic in a service station and was never even cool enough for a geek or an in between. Simply a fat target for all crowds.

Lee Beth said...

This picture makes ya miss the good ol days.

Patty said...

How true, how true.

Owen said...

"Memories... misty water colored memories..."

Funny, I started blogging last year because the people who were organizing my high school's 30th reunion set up a blog on Blogger and invited class members to post photos or whatever, leading up to the reunion. Had it not been for that, I might still not have discovered blogging, and would still be wondering how someday to share some of the thousands of photos in shoeboxes in closets taken over the years with a larger public...

I went to two different high schools, and had fun at both... looking back fondly... although it wasn't always easy by any stretch. Tended to hang out with people who were sort of outsiders, musicians, hippies, artists...

Thanks for the trip down memory lane, Jo :-D

PhilipH said...

Know nowt about high school. Primary/junior school followed by(if you passed the 11-plus tests)Grammar School or, failing 11-plus, to 'secondary-modern school',(now'Comprehensive.)

The happiest days of your life, that's what schooldays are supposed to be.

Not in my case. School of hard knocks perhaps. Not happy though. My younger brothers, when they got into scrapes at school, would always say: "I'll get my brother onto you.." and that involved me!

The only teacher I can remember is the headmaster, Mr. Thatcher. He was very firm, but fair. His punishments were severe and public! He would not fit in today's teaching world, more's the pity.

Lovely article again Jo.

Land of shimp said...

My son just graduated from High School. Isn't it a fascinating time of life to watch?

Just like with your Munchkin, it's like watching the previews of a movie you have anticipate your entire life. "Who will this person I love eventually become?" as you watch the act of his or her actual becoming.

Charles Gramlich said...

I have indeed noticed that, and it gives me quite a sense of pleasure.

Andrea said...

Ah, high school. Such an awkward time. But yes I have noticed that the high school in crowd doesn't stay that way forever!

Pouty Lips said...

My niece is starting high school this fall and I'm feeling a little bit of trepidation. It's projection on my part. I would dread going back there.

Paula Slade said...

Wow, you hit the nail right on the head about high school!

Katy said...

Good post Jo! But I think you left out a huge group. The outsiders or "freaks". I was one of those. The people who would never in a million years be invited to a party by the "in crowd", we were looked on as "just too odd" by the in-betweens and weren't smart enough to ever claim to be a geek or a nerd.

I spent a good part of high school walking around without shoes on which made me a freak.

You have to be very secure with who you are to be a freak, and its something that is really hard to do in high school. I can't say that I look at my friends 10 years latter and say that they have all gone on to great success, but most of them are doing something they love or are with the people they love and that to me is a great success.

Mariana Soffer said...

I am always thinking if school is good or bad, sometimes I think it kills creativity and enthusiasm, sometimes I think it gives you tools to survive and succeed in life. I always came to the same conclusion, we need to know rules, but not that much.
Probably the most relevant part of it is the social one, where I did have a pretty crappy experience, because I was of the nerdy shy type. But being kind of beautiful and with blue eyes, helped me go trough it after my 12 birthday.

ivan said...

I loved actress Molly Ringwald in Pretty in Pink,.
Now 41 and recently playing a Mom in TV’s “The Secret Life of an American Teenager,” Molly Ringwald spent her own teenage years playing characters reflecting the lives of teenage girls in the ’70s.

She already has a six-year-old daughter with husband Panio Gianopoulos, and now she’s expecting twins–a boy and a girl.

...When I first saw the movie, I fell in love with her girl next door appearance and flawless acting style.

I would have giver her quintuplets!

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