Junior High Scarred Me. Again.
The years I spent in Junior High were the worst of my childhood. That’s relative, of course. I had a happy home life, friends, I wasn’t bullied, and I don’t have any real reason to complain. But those three years were at the bottom of the list for me. The reason is simple: Going through puberty with a couple of hundred other kids is fucking horrible. No one knows where they fit in. The unpopular kids hate the popular kids for being popular. The popular kids don’t think they’re terribly popular and hate the unpopular kids for hating them. You have to conform to current fashion (as seen by tweeners, no less) or be ostracized, yet you have to stand out in order to be recognized. In short, it’s three years of insanity with pubes.
And what I really hated about it was that the school that I went to was run like a jail. The smallest of infractions bought you a trip to the office and detention. (Warning: Back-In-My-Day moment ahead.) When I was a kid, for instance, the big thing was wearing high top sneakers with the shoelaces undone. Because, you know, that makes sense when you’re walking through really crowded halls. We must’ve liked bashing our teeth in or something, and we must’ve been good at it too because the school quickly banned untied shoes. Think about that. Walking around with untied shoes is like driving around with flat tires, and we were such morons that they had to make a rule prohibiting it.
Anyway, I decided that I liked being able to slip in and out of my high-tops, so I left them untied, but tied knots in the ends and trimmed the laces so they couldn’t be tripped over. “Greg! Tie your shoes!” I was immediately told. “But Mr. Cerny, I took my laces and…” “I don’t care, tie your shoes or go to the office!” I continued trying to explain that I understood the rule, but it shouldn’t apply to me since I had taken the danger out of the equation entirely. I was sent to the office, where I tried to explain myself further. “The rule is no untied shoes. Your shoes are untied. I’d like you to think about this during detention.”
I thought about it, all right. I sat there and fucking fumed over the police state that was running the joke of a school I attended that didn’t teach me a goddamn thing other than to distrust the motives of authority figures (which, in retrospect, was a pretty important lesson). Of course now I see things from their perspective: The students are fucking maniacs with ticking time-bomb glands, ready to blow at any moment. You give them so much as the appearance of a loophole, and these kids will trample all over your ass with their untied shoes. It will be chaos.
I get it now. But that didn’t help me back then when the only good things about my school days were when the bell rang at 3:00, and when I got to see the Guidance Counselor in the halls, because she had some seriously huge tits and wore tight sweaters.
The reason I bring all of this up is because my daughter is starting 7th grade this fall, and will be going to Junior High. (Yesterday I spoke about how little changes can throw you for a loop. For me, this is one of them. Junior High was 6th, 7th, and 8th grade for me. For my wife, it was 6th, 7th, 8th, and freshman year of High School. Yeah, you read that right. Freshman year in high school was spent in Junior High. This is because she lived in Minnesota, and everything in that state is retarded.)
To get back to my point, my daughter will be going to Junior High in the fall, and tonight was her 7th grade orientation. This meant that I was stuck in a large room with a bunch of twelve, thirteen, and fourteen year olds. Holy shit, just looking at those pimply faces, those awkward kids, the lanky uncoordinated goofballs, the short ones desperately praying for a growth spurt, the ones who obviously hit puberty early and were mortally ashamed of the results… It all came flooding back to me, and it was not a pleasant, nostalgic feeling.
I felt like taking my daughter by the hand and walking her home, gently explaining how the next few years of her life were going to be really, really stupid. “You’ll start acting too cool for toys, but you’ll still want to play with them. You’ll want to act seriously goofy, but will have to play it cool. You’ll end up treating boys cruelly because you like them, and you’ll treat your enemies like friends so you can gather intel to stab them in the back with later. You will want to be totally independent of your parents, but you will continue to be totally dependent on them. In short, you will be insane. And because of this, I’m locking you up until that period of your life is over.”
I mean, it’s the only compassionate thing to do, right?
After I got all the kids put to bed, I sat down to write and realized that the evening had psychically jarred me so much that I had completely forgotten what I was going to write about. Usually this requires beer. So, fuck it, let’s do a mini-video blow out instead:
Our first video clip is of a deposition. It seems a man is having a problem with the City Council over a shed. Stick with this video until the end, because at the 1:05 mark, the man uses the most brilliant legal ploy I’ve ever witnessed in my life. Jaw-droppingly awesome.
Our next video demonstrates what can happen to a man when his world is turned upside down. Sure, Mr. McFeely was a nice and gentle man while he had employment in Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, but once Mr. Rogers was gone, he fell to pieces. He is currently touring the country, scaring four year olds with day-glo animals:
We leave you with a plug from one of our many excellent labor unions, who provide quality goods and courteous services, like pushing around little old ladies from Florida.
Man I wish my parents had told me the truth about being in junior high like you did. But one of my parents was a flipping foreign coocoo and one of my parents was probably genuinely well liked and well rounded even back then. Fucking Atticus Finch as a 12 year old.
Junior high SUCKS. The only thing worse than junior high is high school and also both you AND your wife’s schools are weird because my junior high was 7th and 8th only. My stepmom used to teach junior high and came home every day crying.
I used to set things on fire, climb out the windows during class, stand under drain pipes, so that I would be absolutely drenched, and then walk into class, and so on. I had a lot of time to think about things in detention and I pretty much came up with fuck you.
And and radical and different as you thought you were, there was at least one kid like you in every grade, in every Junior High. That is how fucked up that age group is.
Yeah, that age sucked.
It was then I realised that I needed school to get out of the dead end town I lived in. It was then I realised I was allergic to being punched in the face.
Could the two be related?
The good thing about being the only guy who does homework is that on the days where you just snap you get off easy. Don’t be that guy though.
I don’t know you Rusty but I knew someone like you. I’m glad you survived.
Junior High is when I started not caring about grades (and I had been straight A’s up until then). I wouldn’t start caring again until well into High School.
Good vids. That’s a union that I’d be proud to belong to, and scared to leave.
But not as scared as if that bear cornered me in a classroom.
I love how Mr. McFeely doesn’t just accept his losses and send Purple Panda the fuck out of there. “No, goddamnit, you kids are going to sit here until you are no longer scared of the bear!”
Mr. McFeely can’t experience terror, he can only dispense it.
Aw, bless her heart. That age is awkward. I didn’t really mind junior high. High school, on the other hand, was monstrous.
I don’t blame those kids for crying. I’d be upset too if a droopy-ass panda walked into the room.
The first year of High School was like a continuation of Junior High for me, but the difference was that I no longer felt as if I was in a police state. The school was very different. And the freshman were more humble because they were now at the bottom of the totem pole.
As High School went on, differences were increasingly tolerated (and even admired in some cases), and then I started to have fun. A lot of fun. Simply being accepted for who I was was a major deal for me.
But I do know that others had a very different experience. A lot of people felt about college the way I did about High School, for example.
This is where I thank my parents for being the wonderfully f*cked up people that they were. Because of their psychosis, twisted logic, and warped behavior, junior high and high school were so much easier for me than for the average joe. I cared nothing of what people thought of me and I did not think anything of other people. As I’ve said before, I had bigger fish to fry than to care about anything at school.
I also thank my best friend Holly for taking me on a drunken adventure every f*cking weekend. She knew I needed it. And because of that we got all our college-like behaviour out of our systems in high school so we were actually able to study in college.
Dogs, your daughter is lucky to have you and your wife as parents. The next three years are gonna be tough on you guys as well, but it sounds like you can handle it.
As for the videos. I can’t watch them yet because I AM BEING WATCHED! Damn The Man.
I often wondered what the home lives were like for some of the polar opposites in my class. The extreme partiers, the extreme nerds, the total loners, the crazy as shit extroverts. Those people interested me. The social butterflies, jocks, and other common types didn’t interest me at all (although I was friends with people across all of the different types of students.)
Truth be told, I used to be jealous of the sheltered lives of the kids I saw around me. But then, they shared their parents’ booze with me on the weekends, so everything was copasetic amongst my peers 😉
And Holly’s parents were very good to me. Her father was a lawyer and he helped me become an emancipated minor, free of charge. Her mom helped get me jobs. And they both gave me good references when I needed them. I was a lucky loner. Still am 😉
oh, and if I were to be placed in a category I would loosely be called a Punk Rocker back then, though I absolutely did not hang out with the punk rock clique at school. By listening to their complaints I could tell they were posers who lived sheltered lives and just didn’t like the rules mommy and daddy and “society” placed on them.
Most people were frightened of me, and some thought I was “sooooo cooool” (I found out later) until they gave me a shot and a beer. Then we were all equal in the eyes of high school keggers.
I was kept isolated from the world (no tv, no school, no friends) until I turned twelve and talked my parent into letting me attend school for the first time in my life. My first exposure to humanity: 12-year-old boys. How freakishly weird is that? It turned my brain inside out.
And yet, it worked. Just look at yourself and what you’ve done. How resilient are you?
Christ I want to tell you that it was in the 7th grade that I first learned that Pork was more than the other white meat, but its too fucking cruel, so I will just say this:
I hope you got your ass out there and bought some playoff tickets, my brother!!!!
That must’ve been one hell of a health class…
I love the guy in the deposition. My dad owns several houses which he rents out. He got a letter from the city about one of them saying that the large shed on the back of the property was being condemned and needed to be removed. We went out that weekend, demolished it and hauled the scrap off the property. The following month he was cited for not having a demolition permit.
Of course, he didn’t realize he needed one to do what he had been told to do by the city anyway. When he found out the fine for the citation actually cost less than obtaining a permit, he never applied for one again. He happily paid the fines and smiled because he was saving money.
Dunno about central Illinois, but down here everyone has to deal with homeowner associations, and they can be real fuckfaces. About 10 years ago, some disgruntled homeowner went into his HOA office with a gun and shot a bunch of people, and he had nothing but support from the community at large. Seriously. People defended him for shooting and killing people because those people worked for an HOA.
A large part of the reason for that is shit like you talked about: Excessive rules, and no intelligence used in enforcing them.
It’s weird to me that you Yanks have two lots of high school – we only have the one 7 – 12.
I didn’t mind it too much. I never got bullied because I’d hospitalised a kid the year before with a cricket stump and everyone thought I was crazy. I still got into heaps of fights and was forever being hauled before the Deputy, whom infuriated by always calling him by his first name.
Because of my (alleged) craziness, for Y7 I was put in the retards class which I think was intended to skill up some not too bright ones so they could work in a factory and push a button when the machine went ‘bing’. Because I hit puberty early, I lorded over them and had a ball doing as little as possible. I was outed late in the year, and Y8-12 I was actually quite a high achiever.
Being a true nerd, I never fit in with the cool kids, so a bunch of us used to hang together – we were all the misfits who didn’t fit into any clique but had a good time anyway. We had more fun than them, stuff like going to the drive in and parking at the back and sitting on sun lounges to watch the flick, taking a gas BBQ and having a big cookup as we watched the first feature. A friends older brother used to take us all in his van even before we could drive. When we got licences at 17we went en-mass and had a portable PA to blast out the sound. Because we were well behaved, we were tolerated and those last couple of years we’d all head out after the movies finished and get into more mischief.
The purple panda video has done the rounds down here too. I instantly thought of Pedobear and know he would not approve.
It also reminded me of the reaction I normally get when I get into my full clown outfit and go out in public. I make Tim Curry in IT look normal. If I lived in the US, I’m sure I would have been shot first time out.
Grades 7 through 12? Now that is nuts. I can’t imagine anyone having to deal with all of the hormone ranges in one place like that…