Thursday, April 12, 2012

Tales of a Twelfth-Grade Nothing

I just turned 37, this week, which may or may not have evoked some of the reflections I’ve been having. It’s more likely that it involves my upcoming 20th high school reunion, which I won’t be attending due to scheduling conflicts, just like my 10th. (I actually am interested in going, but ironically enough, we’ll be in my home town for my wife’s high school reunion, then in her home town for my 20th. Nice, huh?)

Anyway, the title of this post should serve to set the stage for what I’m about to write. I was very much a nerd, throughout my school years—still am, to some extent, though that matters much less to a 37-year-old. By high school, I tried to tell myself that I didn’t care what other people thought of me, and occasionally went to great lengths to prove it. But somewhere in the deepest, darkest recesses of my mind, unbeknownst even to me (but probably quite obvious to everyone else), I did care. Even as a senior, when I had finally gained a little cred, I still longed to be included—which led to some interesting events.

I remember our year-end jazz band concert. I played piano and keyboards, but was the only member of the rhythm section (also consisting of a guitarist, bassist, and drummer) who wasn’t also a member of our school’s most popular garage band. I don’t know if they were asked, or if they volunteered, to perform some prelude music before our set, but the point is that they did. And I, as the sole member of the rhythm section who wasn’t a member of their band, decided to join them on stage. I sat behind the piano where no one could see what I was doing—no one but my bandmates, of course—and moved my hands around the keyboard, pretending to play with them. I guess I figured that since the piano is a fairly soft instrument, the audience wouldn’t wonder why they couldn’t hear me over the electric guitar, bass, and drums. I wanted to be cool; instead, some 20 years later, I’m still absolutely amazed by how incredibly lame I was.

Strangely enough, another memory of sorts goes back to that same set of concerts. The next day, we did an abbreviated set for a school assembly. My electric keyboard didn’t have a pedal, but I somehow convinced my MIDI consultant to lend me his. Unfortunately, I didn’t understand how it worked—that it was basically a glorified Boolean toggle switch—and managed to hook it up to my keyboard, backwards. Instead of just disconnecting it and playing as I had always played, I kept it plugged in and tried to pedal backwards. Needless to say, it didn’t go well; I wound up completely messing up a solo, in front of the entire student body.

I remember the day of the AP chemistry exam. It was held at my parents’ church, for some reason, and the rule was that after the exam, students were supposed to return to the school immediately. The unwritten rule, however, was that everyone would go get some lunch and maybe come back for the end of the school day. Of course, I wanted to do this, but despite having gotten an old car for my 17th birthday (a fairly standard practice, in my town), I didn’t yet have a driver’s license, just a permit. (Long story, that.) But Instead of going back, I found a guy who had a license, but no car, and got him to be my licensed-driver chaperone. I barely knew the guy and we actually didn’t get along very well, but it was mutually beneficial, so we went for it. We went to some random restaurant outside of town and then spent an hour or two at the mall. I have no recollection of what, exactly, we did, but how weird was it to be doing this with a tenuous acquaintance? Only my closest inner circle ever knew about that day.

The list could go on and on, but having been part of the “out” crowd throughout high school, I’d be interested to know how common this is. Do most people replay these kinds of stupid, lame decisions, even decades later? Just curious.

No comments:

Post a Comment