Tuesday, September 6, 2011
First Daze of School: Gates-Chili (Part II)
So hopefully you read part one of this blog, First Daze of School: Cardinal Mooney. If not, read it. I’ll wait. Go ahead. Seriously. I’m waiting.
Read it? Comment on it? No? Go back. Comment on it. Anything. Praise. Hated it. Whatever.
We good? All set?
Good. Now. I am working like a dog. Freshman and Sophomore year. I’m basically working to pay my tuition, and expenses to a Catholic High School, Cardinal Mooney--but you already know this. You read Part I, right? Of course, right. Still clocking in up to forty hours a week. While going to school full time. Of course full time. Not many high schools offer a part-time status. They might. I just never heard of it before.
Naturally, working all these hours, and going to school, my grades tend to suffer. I wind up on academic probation for most of the two years I attend. C’s and D’s and the occasional F plot the pages of my report cards each quarter. I don’t go to parties. I don’t go to football games. I mainly socialize at work with the people I am spending 40 hours a week with. I hardly know any of the students at Mooney. Don’t get me wrong, I had friends at school, just never got to bond with them outside of the institution.
I realize as I am completing my sophomore year that, I am indeed retarded. I can go to Gates-Chili for free, and be banking, or at least enjoying the thousands of dollars a year I am making as a kid fifteen years old. (Not to mention I am saving for a car. But that car, that first car—that’s an entirely different blog yet to be written).
So I decide to make the change. I head on over to Gates-Chili. I register. I tour the campus. I ask the advisor all kinds of important questions. “And jeans? I can wear … jeans? And T-shirts? How about sneakers? Can I wear sneakers?” Having to wear a tie since I was five years old, the idea of going to school without one, baffles me. Doesn't seem possible, really.
As that summer ends, and my junior year looms on the next calendar page, I go back-to-school shopping. No more cowboy boots for me! Nope. This year I buy Guido boots. These are like cowboy boots, but they are only ankle-high, and zip up along the inseam. I also purchase a pair of two-tone jeans. White on the front of one, leg, grey on the other. Then opposite that on the back. Grey and white. I grab a turquoise mesh tank top, and a gray cotton sport coat—one where I can roll the sleeves up to mid forearm. I’ve grown a bit of a mullet, with naturally curly hair, and don’t look too different from John Oats from Hall and Oats, while mentally thinking I look more like Don Johnson from Miami Vice. And if you are too fucking young to get these references, google them.
Always plagued with a touch of O.C.D., I drive myself and my brother to school in what is my new car. A 1976 Plymouth Valarie. It’s 1986. And this car never should have made it off the assembly line. But it’s mine. It runs. What more does a 16 year old want, besides a black Trans-Am with T-Tops and buck-seats?
Early, my brother goes off with friends and I slink around hallways, completely lost and looking for the cafeteria. (I am not worried about my locker. I found where it was the day before. And I had mastered Master combination locks. Could open mine in mere minutes now! Three to the right, two to the left, once to the right! That’s right. I got it). There are a few people inside the cafeteria. I mosey into a short line, pick up a tray. Select a doughnut (this is long before the bagel craze ruptured the doughnut spotlight), and a thingy of chocolate milk.
I pay, exit the line, and choose a table near the cafeteria entrance. And why not. I’m looking good. Decked out in new duds. About 5’8”, 110 pounds. Lean with muscle from busting my ass at the party house. The zippers on my Guido boots are un-zipped, because I saw cool kids in the mall wear them that way, and dammit, I’m cool too. I keep my car keys on my cafeteria tray, because if I put them in my pocket, no one is going to know I have a car – and didn’t have to take the bus to school like some common surf.
Looking around the cafeteria, scoping the babe situation, I shake my chocolate milk carton. I grab onto opposite ends of the waxed tabs and pull …
And by pulling, I really mean, jerk.
And when I mean jerk, I actually mean, flounder with little show of muscle control.
The carton parts, splitting open – to me it is in slow motion, so everything should be fine. However, this is not what happened.
Instead, I pulled open the corners so hard that chocolate milk exploded from the mouth of the container. Stains covered the white of my jeans, the stomach of my mesh tank-top and the rolled forearms of my sport coat. Spots of chocolate spray the lenses of my glasses, hiding from immediate view the new horrors bestowed upon me and my fashion statement!
I pick up my keys, the tray of untouched purchases forgotten, and lumber Frankenstein-ish out of the cafeteria in search of a bathroom – of which I have no clue where a one might be!
Eventually, I do find one. And, despite five minutes until homeroom, douse paper towel with water and attempt to rub out stains, ignoring the fact that I am soaking my pant legs, so that it looks like I just finished thoroughly pissing in my pants …
And like my first day at Cardinal Mooney – unfortunately for my readers – the remainder of that day of school is blacked out, blocked from my memory. Beatings? Might have happened. Stuffed into a locker? Surely, it’s possible. Swirley’s, I don’t recall …
Till next time …
Chase N. Nichols
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