Sunday, July 17, 2011

A sampling

More notables from high school.
Pat, a stocky fellow whose stock-in-trade was coming up to you in the halls and crying “Heart punch!” while ramming a ham-size fist into your chest. No one knows where he came up with his peculiar battle-cry, though you can’t deny it was unambiguous. While in computer class with him, I demonstrated to his absolute confusion that I was well aware that an I-beam is a steel girder was. How could I, a child whose dad had never worked a day on construction, know the engineering secret of Steel Girders? Smugly, I just told him I was very well read. I did not enlighten him as to the TRUE source of my knowledge: namely, that Spider Man swings down and catches a steel girder in the opening credits of the 70s cartoon. Said girder has the cross section of a capital I, so I concluded it must be an “I-beam.” If Pat’s reading this now, my secret it out: I am a nerd.
Pete, a blond and beaming young man of dapper demeanour. I worked with him for two years at the local SAAN. We got along beautifully. He had real class and, unlike almost everyone else in town, never taunted anyone that I ever heard. Years later, we bumped into each other at a gay bar and shared an awkward moment of consideration. "So... are you?" I finally asked, gesturing at the patrons around us. "Yeah," he admitted. "You?" "Sorry, no," I said with a shrug. "Just here with a friend." I flatter myself when I say that I believe he looked a little disappointed.

Dave, the most hyperactive man in the world. Through four years of high school, I did not see him sit motionless once. He was always drumming his heel on the floor. You could feel the subsonic vibrations throughout an entire classroom. His bladder was equally hyperactive, or he had a cocaine addiction, because he went to the bathroom four times every class. You rarely saw him without his trademark beverage in hand, grape cola.
Cammy, an ex-pat from Winnipeg, who never really fit in with small town life. She’d been a cheerleader in her former life and tried to rouse some school spirit in our apathetic hearts. No dice. I think two girls showed up for try-outs, and certainly no guys did: it was a well known fact that being a male cheerleader would buy years worth of daily beatings. Cammy was no airhead, though. She regularly got among the highest test scores, but could always be counted on when the tests came back to go trooping up to teacher’s desk to point out all the instances where the marking was wrong and her answers were right. She probably got hundreds of bonus marks that way in her career. Cammy was invariably the token person in the class who asked for more work when she got done early. I’m sure she’s out there as I type, over-achieving her way to success.
Another Chris, not to be confused with the Crazy Chris of my last post. This Chris was a well-meaning boy who had no skill for scholastics. In computer class he could often be seen leaning well over so as to more easily copy the program of the students in front of him. We were given two months to work on an assignment whereby we selected, read, and critiqued poetry. When it was pointed out to him that the assignment was due TODAY, he pulled out a notebook and pen before cheerfully asking us “Does anyone know any good poems?” He had, alas, a body odour problem, and we dealt with it in the mature, kind manner all deviations were dealt with as teenagers: we nicknamed him “L’oignon.” Poor guy. I hope he eventually forgave us and was not driven to do something unfortunate from a bell tower with a high-powered rifle.
We had one other fellow who had a French alias as well, “Pamplemousse.” He was so dubbed because of his nearly perfect spherical shape. Oddly, neither boy was French and we didn’t live in a particularly francophone town, so I have no idea why we leapt for French nicknames when an insult was looked for. Perhaps we perceived the French to be somehow snooty, but that’s only a guess: the motivations of the teenage mind will be forever opaque, even to themselves.

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