I was looking through some old yearbooks the other day. It seems that even reformed geeky teenagers are susceptible to nostalgia, from time to time. Either that, or I’m not as ‘reformed’ as I think I am, and those really were my ‘good old days’.
Holy mother of three-knuckled noogies, please let it not be that. I ditched the braces, the acne, and the Coke-bottle glasses; surely I’m not the same old awkward nerd underneath. Surely!
(That’s a rhetorical statement, by the way. Any of you smartasses comment on that, and I’ll see that you get pantsed at the next student assembly. That’ll teach you know-it-all nerdly types, always answering peoples’ rhetorical questions.
I bet you were in band, too, weren’t you?)
It was an eye-opening experience, looking through these old books. There’s nothing quite so humbling as seeing a picture of yourself ‘striking a pose’ in a twenty-year-old yearbook, with an expression that says:
“Look, ladies, it’s the next Don Johnson. What’s your ‘Miami Vice’?”
…while wearing a piano tie and Members Only jacket that scream:
“Hey, females, Balki‘s ready to make you disgusted and uncomfortable with his lack of knowledge about your customs!”
No, I was no Don Johnson. I wasn’t even Philip Michael Thomas. Or, for that matter, Anthony Michael Hall. Even in the beginning of his movies, when he couldn’t get laid — I could outdork him. Easily. With one retainer tied behind my bicuspids. Or words to that effect.
And now, with the painfully graphic yearbook pictures to remind me, the memories of those teen years have come flooding back. The shy conversations when I couldn’t make eye contact, the awkward pauses when I didn’t know what to say, the nervous giggling with hands shoved into my pockets… and that was just when I took my tray through the cafeteria line.
(Though, in my defense, you try telling our lunch lady Eunice that you want more of her relish on your hot dog. And don’t even get me started on her tater tots.
I had to phone in ‘sick’ whenever they served ‘pigs in a blanket’. I just couldn’t face her.)
Seeing the old yearbooks has gotten me thinking, though — if we’d known then what we know now, what might’ve turned out different? Besides the stupid ties, and haircuts based on Human League videos, obviously.
(‘Don’t You Want Me, Baby?‘
‘Not When Your Head Has Apparently Been Shat On By a Flock of Seagulls, No — No, I Don’t‘)
One thing I think I would’ve changed was the ‘Senior Awards’. There are all sorts of accolades listed in these books:
“Most Likely to Succeed”
Awww. Aren’t those nice? ‘Nicest smile. Gee. And seeing the girl who won my senior year, I wonder if that helped her at all when she dropped out of college and wound up taking a job making Icees at a K-Mart outside of town? Because I saw her there once a few moths later — and she wasn’t smiling. No.
It would’ve been more helpful to give out practical awards, ones that might have reflected the real-life situations we found ourselves in. Not the immediate situations, of course — no one wants to be voted “Most Likely to Receive a Chocolate Swirly in the Boys’ Room During Sixth Period on Days the Cafeteria Serves Mexican Food“.
(Wouldn’t have been me, by the way. I stayed home on those days, too.
Come on — I couldn’t ask Eunice for a hot dog; you really think I could sprinkle my cheese on her taco with a straight face? Gringo, please.)
It also wouldn’t have been very sporting to vote someone — like ‘Miss Dimplycheeks’, above, say — as “Most Likely to Drop Out of College and Wind Up Making Icees at the Wal-Mart Outside of Town“.Obviously, it can happen. But you certainly don’t want to see that coming. Not while you’re sober, that’s for sure.
Rather, the awards I have in mind are more subtle — but also far more useful than dreck like “Best Dressed“. Who dresses well in high school? Teachers’ pets and future Hare Krishnas, that’s who. Useless. Instead, let’s see awards like:
“Most Mature-Looking” — Hey, somebody’s got to go out on a limb and buy beer for prom. Why not find a kid who actually looks like they’re twenty-one? Instant popularity!
“Obviously Belongs in Art School” — Every class has that one kid who can actually draw that stupid ‘Tippy the Turtle’ character. But those artsy types are always so wishy-washy and self-doubting, few of them ever pursue their dream to draw cartoon reptiles for a living, or whatever the hell it is artists do. This should give them plenty of encouragement to forget a bachelor’s degree, and live that dream. Sure, most of ’em will end up making Icees with Grinny Girl someday, but at least they tried, right?
“Most Likely to Get Caught Embezzling” — You know the less-principled brainy math kids are going to think of it, some day. Why not show them that people are already ahead of them, and know they’ll crack when the heat is on? They don’t have the attention span needed to cover their tracks; help them out, before it’s too late.
“Best Manipulator” — Sure, we’d all like to marry money, have an affair, make it seem like the spouse’s fault, and make off with a few cool million. But it’s just not in the cards for most of us. Somebody needs to tell those conniving pricks and bitches to go for it!
“Most Likely to Lend Money to a Casual Acquaintance” — In all honesty, this wouldn’t help the recipient at all. But it would sure as hell help everyone else in school. And sometimes, it’s about the ‘greater good’, see?
“Most Oblivious to Own Body Odor” — Frankly, I don’t think this should be limited to high school. There should be a regular award ceremony in every office, school, and restaurant worldwide, right after the ‘Employee of the Month’ is handed out. Because right now — we just don’t know. Maybe it’s us. If it were me, I’d want to know. Wouldn’t you?
“Cutest in Drag” — Look, if you’re seventeen and enough fellow students have seen you in prancing around in lipstick and panty hose to give you an award for it, something’s probably going on there. We’re just getting it out in the open for you.
“Least Well-Hidden Eating Disorder” — See above, minus the ‘lipstick and panty hose’ part. Insert ‘horking Eunice’s meatloaf into the playground dumpster’, instead.
“Dishonorable Discharge Waiting to Happen” — Clearly, not all ROTC kids are truly Army material. Clearly to everyone but them, at least. Somebody needs to tell them, and before the live ammo starts flying.
“You’re Really, Really Good… But Not ‘Pro’ Good” — Positive reinforcement is very important. Make sure that star quarterback or All-State two guard knows that you appreciate their game, and you’ve really enjoyed watching them play. But come on — they’re going to a D-II school; State didn’t even recruit them! It’s time they shelved the dream, and picked up some reading comprehension skills or something. It’s over. Move on.
Look, maybe it’s just me — that’s me, “Least Likely to Ever Bag a Cheerleader, Class of ’88,” by the way — but I really think these sorts of awards would have helped some people in my high school. And I’m not saying that because I had a metalmouth smile, no fashion sense, and a Thompson Twins haircut, either.
Well, I’m not just saying it because of that! There are other reasons, too. Honest!Permalink | 2 Comments