High school can be an exciting time for teenagers. While it can be heaven for the popular ones, it can be hell for those that aren’t jocks, cheerleaders, or in other A-list cliques.
It was 30 years ago this summer that Ray and I both graduated from high school. He graduated from a private Catholic school in Fort Dodge, Iowa, and I graduated from a small school in Lowes, Kentucky. We were bussed about 12 miles each way from within the city limits of Mayfield to this country school, despite the fact that we lived only 2 miles from Mayfield High School. Go figure!
I wouldn’t call my years at Lowes hell, but I definitely wouldn’t say it was fun and that I’d like to do it over again.
While I was pretty good at playing basketball in my neighborhood, I never tried out for any sports at school. I spent all my time in high school studying and taking advanced math and science classes, graduating with nine of my eighteen credits in those two subjects. When I wasn’t studying for school, I was obsessed with weather forecasting and observing. And, I would spend hours in my room with my record player and over-sized headphones on dancing around and probably not realizing how loud I was singing along to the music.
The only school event I went to other than a few basketball games and graduation was my induction into the FFA (yes, the Future Farmers of America)! I had to recite the creed and my only regret 30 years later is that I don’t still have my FFA jacket.
I didn’t attend the prom and it’s a good thing. You saw what happened to Carrie White!
I had a couple of friends that I hung out with in high school, but only at school. I never socialized with anyone outside of school except for the kids in my neighborhood and that was only in elementary school. I was more a loner in high school. I knew I was gay, but I didn’t know anyone else that was. That was probably the main reason that I isolated myself from the rest of my classmates.
From a music standpoint, I was country when country wasn’t cool. In the 1970s, I didn’t listen to pop and disco, although I was familiar with ABBA and The Carpenters. That was my only foray into ’70s music. However, my sister, Tammy, the wild one, then and now, bought me the Donna Summer 45 rpm single, “Dim All The Lights” for Christmas in 1979. And, I quickly went out and bought Chic’s “Good Times” and I would sneak listens to Tammy’s double album of “Bad Girls” by Donna Summer. The tide was turning.
And then, in the fall of 1981, at the beginning of my senior year, Todd and Randy, two guys in my advanced biology class, introduced me to new wave music. First, it was The Cars’ “Shake It Up”. From there, there was no turning back for me and by the time I graduated in the summer of 1982, I was rocking to Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and gaily dancing to the Go-Go’s and Olivia Newton-John.
But, I was really mesmerized by the sounds coming out of England with the new British New Wave Invasion. There were the very naughty boys, Soft Cell, with “Tainted Love” and The Human League. “Don’t You Want Me” is still one of my favorite songs of all time and I got to see them several years back at Market Days in Chicago and I felt 17 again! From there, I embraced my sexuality openly (well, as openly as I could have before heading off to college one year later, in the fall of 1983, and with no boyfriend.)
With Culture Club, Duran Duran, Prince, Corey Hart, Madonna, and Cyndi Lauper, music filled my life and it gave me the confidence that I could be anything that I wanted to be and I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m perfectly okay with who I am today.
I guess if I had to choose two things that I would change from high school, it would be trying out for the basketball team and asking my childhood crush to the prom. That would have been so scandalous back in 1982. Two boys (or two girls) going to the prom together today it still controversial and it’s 2012!
Enough about me, this is all about Ray this weekend as we head to northwestern Iowa for his 30th high school reunion. He has gone to other milestone events. I’m looking forward to attending his reunion, since mine pretty much didn’t get off the ground, even with the wonders of the internet and Facebook.
Look at my adorable husband in 1982. (Disclaimer: I did not ask for permission to use this picture and since Miss ABBA lived indoors and was treated like a queen, there’s no proverbial dog house for me to sleep in tonight, so I hope it’s okay that I posted the picture.) 🙂
I am already Facebook friends with a few of his classmates and I can’t wait to meet them. Hi Kim! Hi Carol!
It will be a little interesting since this will be his first class reunion that he’s a married man (to another man) thanks to Iowa. I know that I’ll probably be treated nicely by most everyone. Okay, there may be a few that might avoid me. And, if so, I promise I won’t go all Dexter Morgan like he did at his high school reunion at the start of the sixth season. Better yet, maybe I could just embody Janeane Garofalo’s Heather Mooney from “Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion”.
Speaking of which, since I never went to any of my high school reunions (I think there was one in 1992?), I live vicariously through Romy White and Michele Weinberger. You remember them, right? We all went to school with them.
Those are the lead characters in the 1997 movie, “Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion” starring Mira Sorvino and Lisa Kudrow.
For the uninitiated, order it now from Netflix or amazon.com. In the movie, Romy and Michele live in Los Angeles and while one works at a dead-end job and the other is unemployed, they really don’t think that their lives in the ten years since high school have been that bad. They look at the yearbook and relive some of the fun times at school. The “Madonna Twins” look is classic.
As they head to Tucson, Arizona, for their high school reunion, they get nervous. They are going to have to encounter girls that were mean to them (cheerleaders), unrequited love, and more angst from their teen years.
While I was not fashionable in high school (that came in mid-1980s when I started going to out to the local gay bar), Romy and Michele were fashionable in their own way. And, ten years later, while the cheerleaders still pick on them for their fashion sense, our heroes get the last laugh with their hot dresses.
While I know I could rock either of those dresses this weekend, I will dress more Midwestern and I’m looking forward to a good time and maybe some dancing.
There’s still a little part of me that wishes that my reunion had been better organized this year, so I could go back and see how the past 30 years have treated my classmates.
But, I’ll always have my friends, Romy & Michele. As a matter of fact, I’m going to unwind today on the couch with a glass of wine and spend 92 minutes with them in one of my favorite movies of all time.