Day 18: A series of anecdotes
High School in middle class America: In spite of the hassles of growing up, It was also pretty bad ass.
At the lake house, the daily schedule was not too different than being at home but it was like a vacation because you were with a different group of people that you don’t see that often, theres a swimming pool, and the lake with a ski boat plus a crazy uncle who loves to drive the boat towing teenagers on the tube who hang on for dear life and a hot aunt who is so bubbly it’s almost flirtatious (from the perspective of a hormone junky 15 year old boy). Tubin’ with Ray’s uncle was an experience that no one I knew would undergo twice without lots of goading, which is typical in a boys club; he loved doing a slingshot which is pushing the boat up to full throttle then taking a hard turn, whipping the tube and rider around at 60+ mph, forcing a high speed wipe out crating a sense of fear hard to top by any school bully or standardized test. The house was basically just like any other back in town. It had a TV with cable and even HBO. (I think I watched Batman like six or seven times that summer). I had only been friends with Ray for about a year. The way that the group came to be was that a bunch of guys lived out in the rural suburb a couple miles outside of town. When I was in the seventh grade, one of them came up to me at school one day (we only kind of knew who each other was). He said, “hey man, I think we’re on the same team”. I had been playing baseball since the 5-pitch days (It’s kind of like pee-wee football except for those who prefer the bat to the pigskin). It was one of my favorite things to do all the way up through my senior year. I was average size, so not a home run hitter but fast, and had pretty good stick; grounders and line drives mostly. With a batting average in the .350 range, and being a quick runner, I was always 1,2, or 3 in the lineup. Clint and I were both signed up for the spring little league. Sure enough, we had been put on the same team so we started hanging out. Ray was one of the guys I’d met through Clint and we all got to be pretty tight.
The summer before high school, I was invited to go out to the lake house. One day, while Ray and I were kicking around out in the back yard, we recognized a couple guys hanging out at the house next door. By coincidence, the twins’ (Mike and Matt) grandmother had a house next to Ray’s. Mike was there with Josh, a guy I had seen around school but didn’t know. We kind of waved to them and they waved back so, we headed over to talk and see what was up. We hung out for ten or twenty minutes and chatted each other up a little before heading back over to our own pad. I already kind of knew Mikes brother Matt from computer class, so with these new acquaintances, school & baseball connections, all the pertinent introductions that setup the high school experience had been taken care of. By the time we get to senior year, there were other clicks that merged together on weekends and grew the group, also other clicks that I hung out with on the side, but by mid-august the day that we went from top dog, back to low man on the totem pole, the core of my social universe had been assembled.
Being a teenager is a challenge and I don’t think I would want to go back and do it again because of the obstacles and peer pressure that you have to deal with, but high school is the universal experience that, good or bad, is action packed. It reminds me of what a Radio DJ told me once when I called to get the results of a contest that I’d entered and made it to the finals. He didn’t know but said with a grin, “Stay tuned, somethin’s gonna happen”!