I almost skipped this question. What were your friends like in high school? I’m not even sure how to approach this one, considering high school was some 35 or so years ago. Twice as much time has passed since I’ve been there than I was when I was living the experience and thought I would never get out. Weird the places life takes you, huh?
But okay, let’s think about this for a second. My first official year of high school was still in jr. high. When I was going through the public school system in Las Vegas in the late 70s/early 80s, it went like this:
Grades 1-5 = Elementary
Grade 6 = Sixth Grade Center
Grades 7-9 = Jr. High School
Grades 10-12 = High School
The logistics meant that each lower level fed into the level above at an exponential* rate of about 3:1. This means that by the time you got to high school, there were considerably more kids to be friends than you started with in elementary.
What complicates this a bit more for me, is that rather than swim with all the other fish directly from Kenny Guinn, my jr. high school, to Ed Clark, where I should have gone, AAron and I, instead, went to Western for 10th grade in order to join the Air Force Jr. ROTC program. This meant a whole new group of potential friends, folks I hadn’t grown up with for the previous several years. We did leave after that single year, and I went back to Clark to finish out high school**.
All of which, to get back to the original question, means there were a lot of kids to be friends with (and that’s just in school itself, it doesn’t really include social activities or temple related friends). And yet…
And yet I didn’t have all that many friends. I certainly had a few, but I was never the popular kid in school. I was more the Ferris Bueller type. I flitted around from group to group, never really belonging to any, but never really excluded, either. My core group of friends, though, they were mostly geeks like me. Aside from AAron, who was (and remains) a constant, my friends were the ones who would gather at a table at lunch time and play Dungeons and Dragons or the classic Steve Jackson Games Car Wars. We would read science fiction and fantasy books and hang out in the library and write out notes to each other in Elvish.
Of course, since high school runs the gamut from (for me at least) 14-17, things were bound to change. When it all started, really, we were all still kids. Trying to think back on it now is rather difficult. I mean, sure, there are moments but honestly, it’s hard to remember individuals from back then. Who were the kids I ate lunch with in 1981? Who did I share my homework notes with or spend time hanging out at the 7-Eleven? Didi? Sure. Kristi and Dana, too. I wish I had my yearbook closer at hand, to remember the kids who were part of my group project in social studies or who I ran with on the track team (was that even that year or the year before?)
And then, 10th grade, being a sophomore at Western and more geeky friends, like Peggy and Diane and John, and theatre friends there, too. But really, that year for me was all about ROTC, and, at least until it wasn’t, preparing for a career in the military. About three quarters of the way through that school year, when it became abundantly clear that I was not cut out for a military life, I also knew I was going to go back to Clark and finish out the remainder of my high school time.
Those final two years my friends shifted slightly. I still had the geeky friends, but I added to that folks like Channing Harper, who was perpetually stoned (and who really needs his own entry) and Tony Breit, who was a bass player and let me live out the dream of the
non-musical kid by being the band’s manager and sometimes lyricist (and if you ask nicely I’ll tell you the story of the one time he let me play keyboards on stage). This was also when girls started becoming a serious complication in the D&D playing, comic book reading geeking out time.
Fall of senior year I met Gail and that spun friendships in a whole new direction. In senior year in general, my social circle was mostly theatre kids and Tim and Silke and Krystene from my creative writing class. I was still into science fiction, but by 1985, my comic book interest was waning (don’t worry, I’m making up for lost time now) and I was getting more concerned with going to university and the dreaded question “what are you going to do with your life?”
Interestingly, with the advent of social media, I’ve reconnected with a number of high school folks, some of whom I wasn’t even associated with in high school as anything more than a nodding acknowledgment when passing in the hallway, but have become friends of late.
* am I using that correctly? I’m a writer not a mathematician
**AAron left town at that point, then came back for the first half of senior year to stay with us and go to Clark with me.