Someone recently began a discussion arc on the six- packers’ loop about being a geek in high school. Many banditas chimed in, confessing to geek-hoodness, listing clubs they were in or activities they had joined in high school. We have a significant number of band and choir geeks, Latin Club geeks (raising my hand here), speech and drama geeks, National Honor Society geeks, and student government geeks.
Most banditas confessed to being good students. I'm not surprised because writers by default must be good readers, lovers of the written word, and shapers of gripping characters and the worlds they occupy. They must be moderately well organized and superbly disciplined, all traits that make for good students.
When I was thirty-seven, I flew back to Virginia to attend Hopewell High School’s twentieth class reunion (go Cougars!!!). Like many of you, in high school I was in that undetermined class between the “cool” kids (we had Greek letter fraternities and sororities on our campus – so NOT cool) and what we called the “hoods,” students who regularly got into trouble, ditching school, smoking on campus, or flunking tests on a regular basis.
Our little tweener clique consisted of the scholars, the smart kids, not exactly fitting in with the jocks and cheer leaders, but respected because, well, we were the top graduates, we got the scholarships, and we helped the others through their trig and physics classes.
Life is such an amazing leveler. At my twentieth class reunion, I was so surprised to find that I was the cool kid! I was one of the few college graduates, the one who could still fit into her wedding dress, the one who had a respectable job, and the one who had miraculously transformed from a skinny girl with no boobs or hips into a moderately attractive woman, albeit with no boobs. There's a name for us girls: we’re called late bloomers.
I have three daughters, all of whom are gorgeous and tall and slender (this from their Dad), but they bloomed “late.” My husband always said a late-blooming daughter was God’s blessing to worried parents. Somehow their common sense anchors them until their beauty takes over.
I’ve been teaching adolescents for over twenty years and I know this for sure: I’ve NEVER met a beautiful, talented girl who felt extremely confident. There seems to be in most of us that little unsure girl who’s positive she’s not as pretty as everyone says, who’s fat even though she weighs less than my jeans, who can’t see her creamy complexion for the zit worming its way to the surface.
I had a student a few years ago who lives in Las Logos, a very pricey gated community near where I live. To give you an idea, Eddie Murphy (yes, that one!) just sold his $10 million house – estate is more appropriate – out there. I was helping my student write her college application essay and we began talking about girly-stuff. Here is this beautiful (really), talented (really, really), smart (triple really), little cheerleader whose life is very hard. She cooks and cleans for her entire family (mom and dad off making money), she maintains a 3.9 grade-point average, and she is universally liked. I have no compunction about eavesdropping on teenage conversations, so I know this for a fact.
I just hugged her and told her how much better life would be in a few years. She’s a mental late-bloomer and doesn’t even know it.
So my question to you, gentle readers, is: What’s the most poignant event YOU can recall about high school – good or bad? Lay it all on the line. And then think, like my granddaughter golfer in the picture above: What a long way you’ve come, baby!