September 10, 2009

Do You Believe in High School?

Martha reports on last night's reading thing at Books, Inc. in SF.

Chuck and Stephanie stopped by, as did Tony, and a bunch of other nice people, including quite a few students from Capuchino High School, also known as "Cap." This was the putative "rival" school to Mills, the school I attended, way back when.

One of the audience questions was whether I had hated high school as much as my characters do. Well, the answer is that I probably hated high school even more than they do, if such a thing is possible. It was a miserable, miserable experience, a "clean, well-lighted place for hazing," as Tom Henderson puts it, and a near-total waste of time. I know some people who profess to have fond memories of their high school years, but I have always assumed they were lying, at least to themselves.

Anyway, things have evidently changed a bit since we got kicked out of school. None of the kids there would admit to even a mild dislike. Which, frankly, blew my mind a little.

Finally one girl raised her hand and asked: "don't you think you might have had a better time if you had gone to Cap?"

You know, I rather doubt it. But packed in that question is a world of school spiritedness utterly alien to me, and thus fascinating. Who are these contemporary high school enthusiasts? Note to self: future novel idea, kind of Stepford Wives-ish, except they are, you know, students and stuff.

(As I may have mentioned before in this space, the last time I was at "Cap" -- age sixteen or so -- it was to cover one of the doors to the gym with Elvish graffiti. Yeah, I was that kind of kid.)

Posted by Dr. Frank at September 10, 2009 12:05 AM | TrackBack

I went to four different high schools (don't ask and I won't tell) and found that they were all SO different, I'm not sure you can say that you like/don't like high school so much as you can say my particular high school experience blew or did not blow. One was full of hot guys, one was dumb as a bucket of rocks, one I was so high I don't remember and one was kinda great but I might have still been high. One thing's for sure, I'd never go back to any of them. Not for 15 minutes on a dare. Not even to install Elvish grafitti.

Posted by: kelley at September 10, 2009 12:15 AM

I'm pretty neutral on my high school years. They weren't the best years of my life (I have nothing but pity for people who say that), but neither was it a soul-draining terror. But my high school was kind of strange. There weren't any walls between classes, we didn't have prom kings or queens, and no one gave a rat's ass about the cheerleaders and jocks. The most popular kids were the 4.0/student government/track team/French club well-rounded types and they were actually pretty pleasant people. (Most of them were Asian, I don't know if that's related or just coincidental.)

Posted by: Sarah at September 10, 2009 12:47 AM

I went to Mills too. I think the lack of windows in the classrooms helped make it a weird environment, but nope, high school is high school, and I don't understand the fond memories either. It wasn't the worst experience I've ever had, but I certainly did not like it, especially while it was happening.

Posted by: nicole at September 10, 2009 01:31 AM

I hated high school immensely. My mother and father taught me the requisite skills to get into college, and succeed in college, which is what I did, to become a....middle school teacher (sidenote: King Dork is fairly accurate of the ineptitude of a lot of teachers, present company hopefully excluded...the only thing that the book missed is that the English guy who mispronounces words...those are the Coach-slash-teachers right out of college, at least in these here parts).

What was interesting about my high school (86-90) is that the dress up "punks" (those that wore overpriced shirts of the Ramones, Sex Pistols, Dead Kennedys, Husker Du, etc.) were all from spoiled rich backgrounds, bullies nearly the lot of em, virtually all of whom went on to college fraternities and white collar careers. A different fifteen dollar punk rock shirt per day in the 1980's didn't resembler "punk" too much to me, but I guess you couldn't tell that to them.

Posted by: David at September 10, 2009 02:08 AM

The only truly fond memory I have of high school is reading both the Odyssey and Edith Hamilton's Mythology during freshman year. The entire class was genuinely interested in both texts and actually kept up with the reading. Everything else is a total blur, honestly.

At the time, I guess it was cool to be thrown together with my geeky, depressed friends everyday. We weren't hassled on school grounds very much because the school board instituted a mandatory expulsion policy for in-school violence or "threat of violence," which everyone took seriously, thank god. I'm from Illinois, so everyone ended up going to either: 1) U of I-Champaign/Urbana for engineering or physics; 2) any of the liberal arts colleges around the city to "study film;" 3) jail (seriously).

Posted by: Cpt. at September 10, 2009 02:43 AM

"Anyway, things have evidently changed a bit since we got kicked out of school."

Skipping school to watch 'Rock and Roll Highschool' is the only good memory I have.

Posted by: greg at September 10, 2009 03:44 AM

I remember a discussion in my Junior year English class where everyone seemed to agree that my high school was not like all the others because we weren't so clique-y, etc. While my high school was not like the ones in the movies, I still think everyone involved in that discussion was full of themselves and that most high schools aren't too different.

Posted by: Saul at September 10, 2009 08:27 AM

Throughout high school, the only thing keeping me going was that I would be out of that school and out of that town soon, off to college and never to return to that town (aside from the visits home, of course)

It was just a rut--doing the same shit every day, and constantly having to be "on", because everybody knows who you are, or at least knows of you.

Posted by: -B at September 10, 2009 04:06 PM

This was a great, very funny post. Congrats on the new book Frank, I'm looking forward to reading it.

Posted by: John at September 10, 2009 06:05 PM