Monday, December 05, 2005
High School
Skinny pubescent girls are over-running the streets. It concerns me. Half of them seem to idolize Paris Hilton's (lacking) wardrobe. Many of them look like punks, only to be confused when asked about The Ramones or Dead Kennedys or The Pixies. I think Green Day is as punk as they get.

I live very close to MallUtopia. This is my term describing not only a mall, but all the outlying strip centers that satellite the mall. I live between three Starbuck's, a Babies R Us, Circuit City, and Rooms to Go. Across the street is about five Targets and One Enormous Soul-Destructing Wal-Mart. Not only do these strip centers provide hours of shopping pleasure but also give ample opportunity for 'hanging out' in parking lots for teenagers with extremely fast cars and nowhere to go.

I was thinking about these kids and fell into that horrible trap of wondering if it was THAT bad when I was a teenager (about a decade ago). You know what? It WAS as bad.

I went to an ludicrously wealthy public school where many of my peers drove BMW's and Jaguars to school. Ridiculously enough, I found myself in a tight spot. I was not rich enough to hang with the popular kids, I was not thin enough to be an athlete, I was not pretty enough to be a sweet loner, I wasn't smart enough to hang with the Beta Club (I got kicked out for lacking in community service), and I wasn't weird enough to hang out with the grunge crowd. I wasn't gay enough or egotistical enough to chill with the drama club, although I'd taken about five acting classes from theater companies, and could sing like a lark back then. I never got good roles when auditioning for musicals because I hadn't sucked up to the theater teachers who are (inevitably) also track coaches. Man, my life sucked as a teen.

I found myself more comfortable with senior citizens or blind dogs or the smelly kid who peed in her pants on the bus. I journaled during classes, only to get in trouble for not paying attention while four or five jocks were comparing toe fungus or dick length or whatever it is that jocks do three rows back. Ironically, when I did pay attention and do well in 'hard' classes, the very same jocks called me a bitch for not allowing them to copy my homework or a suck up because the horrible green-teethed teacher actually liked me and thought I was a hard worker.

Gradually, I moved into the Advanced Placement classes (by a lark--I had no clue what I was doing), and my peers then seemed to conditionally accept my existence while in class--mainly because I was chatty about society and history. You think any of them were caught dead walking down the halls with me? Hell, no.

I was pushed into lockers by jocks all the time. At first, I thought I had done something horrible enough to some soccer players to deserve this treatment, but I learned it wasn't me they were pushing, it was the underdog. Those guys didn't know my name, but they saw my face and big butt and lonely shoulder slump. That's all they needed-a target. BOOM! Into the lockers I would go without a comrade to protect me. I even lost the courage to flip them off, because some damn teacher or (worse) coach would glare at me as the jocks would run off, as though my very existence caused the ruckus.

Don't get me wrong. There were some moments of vindication, though limited.
One included Algebra I, where the dumb-ass football teacher actually made copies of my equations to turn into overheads so that the dumb-ass jocks in the back could finally figure out how to balance equations. Another one was when I correctly translated an entire paragraph of English into Latin on my own and did so perfectly to the great acclaim of the oft-discouraged Latin teacher. Thirdly, when I lost fifty pounds in my junior year and Ashley B.-one of the prettiest, popular girls with a boyfriend in college-was kind to me, and even ate some carrots with me in math class under the tutelage of the single Ms. Cleckler, a friendly warm woman who had fun with the students.

For the graduating class, the school would hire one of those archiving studios to come and film all the activities and set it to trendy music, probably to leave a decent taste in the mouths of teenagers and parents, alike. It was a cloudy day when we practiced walking across the stage (yeah, four years of conformity training and they had to make sure we could get the whole walking thing down). I'm so afraid of cameras it's ridiculous. Add this to the lovely hives I had been stricken with thanks to stress about walking across that damn stage alone in front of the jocks, I did everything I could to dodge the camera. Plus, I stood in between two kids who were as disassociated as I was. I saw that camera coming and I turned away. I did my dumb little walk and went home.

Later, I bought the video tape to torture myself when I was feeling penitent for numerous crimes I WOULD be committing in college. I slipped it into the VHS about a month after graduation, alone in the living room, bags getting packed for the trip to Omaha, 800 miles away. I fast-forwarded through the cliche pictures of those same pretty cheerleaders and gorgeous jocks, searching for friends. Needless to say, I was fast-forwarding quite a bit, because I had about four friends. Suddenly, a girl's face came up, her hair blowing long and yellow into the wind. Her face turned away, sad and lonely but beautiful, was so striking the film was stilled on her. The cool air seemed to be tossing her hopes to the wind.

That was me. I was that girl.

So, as I drive throughout the MallUtopia and see these consumer teens, acting stupid and dressing like mini-sluts, I remind myself, "They aren't the only ones. The others are at home, with their parents, doing homework or drawing or dancing or laughing, just like you did at that age. Life is not without hope."
Written by FRITZ
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Name: Fritz

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    We shall not cease from exploration And the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first time. Through the unknown, unremembered gate When the last of earth left to discover Is that which was the beginning; At the source of the longest river The voice of the hidden waterfall And the children in the apple-tree Not known, because not looked for But heard, half-heard, in the stillness Between two waves of the sea. Quick now, here, now, always— A condition of complete simplicity (Costing not less than everything) And all shall be well and All manner of thing shall be well When the tongues of flame are in-folded Into the crowned knot of fire And the fire and the rose are one. -T.S. Eliot "Little Gidding"

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