Monday, September 03, 2007

High School (NOT the Musical!)

If you've followed this blog for any length of time, you'll remember Woody's steadfast opposition to reunions of any kind relating to my wayward school years. My stated reason to this point has been the idea that kids in my class were either stoned, about to get stoned, or recovering from having been stoned. I just didn't want to see all those train wrecks.

So explain to me, please, why I found myself updating my® profile this evening.


I find no logic in this move. I've been "associated with" (which sounds marginally better than "stalked by")® for many years now, going back to our time in Ventura County. It seemed like a good way to keep up with the three or four people who gave my high school years any kind of bearable significance at all; see what may have become of them.

The problem, of course, is that none of the people I was thus interested in bothered to sign in and make themselves known to me. Also, my deep-rooted self-imposed boycott of all school reunions has kept me backpedalling in full reverse thrust mode whenever those letters appear in my mailbox. ("They've found me! What'll I do??")

So I ask again: What the heck was I doing updating my profile tonight?

I suspect it has more to do with wanting to correct any misconceptions about my life post-academia than anything else. I guess some explanation is in order.

As anyone who knew me in high school (especially those who knew me well) could tell you, ol' Woody was one self-centered little dweeb in high school. A very skinny self-centered dweeb, mind, and one whose social skills consistently ranked right up there with cockroaches and certain bottom-feeding parasites, only with less charm. Chalk it all up to "talent," if you like, because that's what the problem really was. I was a talented kid whose head became over-inflated about one month into my high school career and stayed that way right up until graduation.

As a tenor I was pretty much in high demand as a vocalist throughout high school. I somehow figured this was because I had some sort of miraculous voice. The truth, it transpired several years later, was that any tenor who could (not necessarily in this order) read music and breathe was considered a hot commodity. The fact that I was the supposed scion of an extremely musical family only served to enhance this self-image and made me the unbearable snot that I became. That, coupled with the tutelage of a choir director who felt the only acceptable form of self-expression was biting sarcasm, made me what I was: a hideous (albeit talented) child.

My high school experience was pretty miserable overall. For one thing, I stank as a student. If it wasn't a music or theater class of some sort, I was doing well to pull C's and occasional D's. One teacher had gone so far as to make me sign what he labelled as a "bona fide contract" in the presence of the dean and my mother in order to pass the class. It worked, but that was the exception rather than the rule.

My misery in my performing arts classes was compounded by the fact that I was (I may have mentioned) a skinny dweeb. For most of those three years I had the whole package: greasy hair, pock-marked face, concave chest. My chances of scoring any female companionship were nil until my senior year when one of them — no doubt in a moment of weakness — thought I really did have some talent and was worth a second look. (Just kidding, Betsy!) (Mostly!)

Oddly enough, the experiences I had in high school in a way helped propel me into my post-graduation life of serving a mission, marrying in the temple, and trying to raise a family. The moment I matured enough to take a hard look at myself, I realized that what I had become in high school needed to die a quick, painless death. I deep-sixed that part of my life with fond wishes never to lay eyes on it again. I decided to remake myself from that moment on, and I haven't really looked back.

So why the sudden interest in posting an online bio on "Classmates?" To let those poor kids who had to put up with me in high school know that I really have turned out okay. I suspect that, had the yearbook had such a category, I would have been named "Kid Most Likey to Have His Jaw Wired Shut By a Jock" in my senior year. I want them to understand that I'm still alive, but that I'm not the same miserable kid they all knew. I want them merely to know that people can change.

Even skinny, sarcastic little dweebs like me.

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