These were basically desert places.
Why so dour and sour an outlook?
Because none of it added up to the expectations I had. It confused me. It confounded me. For the most part, it still does. I just accept many things now, happy not to have answers to all my queries.
Prog Rock "Sensitive" Nerds
We all know the great dividing wall in the high school between the haves and have-nots. First is looks and second, but not lesser than, is athletic ability. Have one or the other and no doubt, you are among the elite.
To even suggest that none of us aspired to the upper echelon is a lie we tell ourselves. Then comes the justifications. The smart kids use their intellect as their badge of honor as their superiority to the select social group. The cool kids use their coolness. Music-heads and would-be players use music and so forth.
This nerdery is not really the cause of being on the bottom of the social ladder, but can become a rallying flag for sustaining it.
It can also become an island, a fortress and a place to name as your own.
Because so little of what was going around me made sense, music (the guitar included) became my island. When things got screwed up or everything felt like chaos, this was my safe place.
After the prison-like atmosphere of military school, I wasn't quite sure how to re-enter a regular high school. I mean, there were real live girls- everywhere. Sweet barbecue Elvis.
Poor Helen. She sat behind me and she seemed almost as shy and awkward as me. She was sweet and easy to talk to. This is important if you "squirm" (an actual term used by a girl in my French class) around the opposite sex.
I used to do strange things like lift her and her chair off the floor with my legs. She would laugh at the sheer ridiculousness of my actions.
So, I decided to ask her out. Oh boy.
What follows has to be one of the worst dates on record. At least, by my counting.
Helen borrowed her Mammoth-Mobile family car and picked me up. We were going to a party. All I remember is hanging out, drinking beer and generally being a stupid teenager. At the party were the usual cast of characters, sans my friends, of course, because I had a date. No one wants to be around their guy world friends on a damn date. That's why we are out - to get the hell away from the monotony of male companionship.
There was a smooth black cat named Johnny who was clearly our school stud or at least in the top five contenders. Johnny had a black Les Paul that made me green with envy. He also dressed like brothers in blaxploitation films, as this was the '70's after all. I mean, silk shirts were the scene, man. Except by the hippie faction, of course, and that was flannel and blue jeans.
|Frampton sold bazillions of albums|
and then lost all credibility in the halls
of legit musos. His album was everywhere
and on all the time.
Somehow, someone (encouraged by me) slipped on Yes. Not exactly par-tay music, but I felt I had to impose my tastes on others. "This isn't music you listen to at a party, " Johnny began. "This is more like music you listen to while you're on acid." Johnny wasn't being arrogant or hateful, he was stating the truth as he saw it. At that time, I resented the acid=creativity in music that most "heads" of my generation made, but much worse, I hated the dude for being so damn cool and a charmer.
Even Helen squirmed a little around this guy. Time to go. So, what I thought was going to be a most excellent evening with my cute companion turned out to be a bummer upon bummer.
We went to a makeout place that Joe had shown me. It was a dark cul de sac that was perfect. There, in the Mammoth-o-mobile, we lit our first celebratory cigarette together. Things were going well and I was about to make my first move, when a police car came rolling by and began to shine a spot light on the nearby church. Talk about panic in your throat, heart beating like drummer, and the feeling that something terrible was going to happen.
Helen was not going to be kissing on me that night, that's for sure.We decided to end the evening. That killed my chances for that night and any possibility of any other night with Helen.
I think we both somehow felt ashamed at what had happened. I don't know why we felt that way, but that's how it played out. I felt awful at feeling a complete jinx-making our first date a disaster. Fucking up the family car and almost getting busted had to be her reason. She later told me that her dad had been listening on the police scanner and heard the report about a break-in at the church. Whether dad was telling the truth or not, it didn't matter. Done and done.
Not particular to my tale, but Helen eventually married one of her high school friends.
I could totally wrong, but I actually limit my trips down memory lane. I write on these subjects to test my mind to see what's intact, to improve my writing chops and to tell you (whoever you are, I haven't a clue anymore) the true and unexaggerated events in a largely unremarkable and uneventful life.
But, every blue moon, I find myself reminded of that night when I drive past the Italien restaurant that her husband's family owns. I do laugh.
Next: More Awkwardness