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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Thursday Tangent: High school still sucks.

Today’s Lesson: Going back to high school, even when it's fictitious, isn’t easy.

Like everyone else on earth who wasn’t the star quarterback or part of the prom court, I ran from high school after the graduation caps hit the ground. In fact, there’s very little evidence that I was ever in high school at all.

Unlike the popular crowd, I don’t remember the four years I spent in a campus-style hell staring out windows and willing days to pass fondly. I don’t sit around and reminisce or wish I’d been more of a joiner. With the help of some other disaffected youths I survived and that was all that mattered.

So who knew that less than 12 months away from my 10-year reunion I’d be wishing I’d paid more attention? Certainly not me.

Time was finally erasing all thoughts of those unhallowed halls but then I decided to start writing a book. It seemed like a brilliant plan before I realized that I would have to dredge up memories of classes and teachers and cliques and skuzzy lunch lines. I wanted nothing to do with it when I was there, but I forced myself to go back.

I found a happy safe place in my office then, as some sort of odd self-therapy session, I immersed myself in high school. Sights, smells, and sounds came flooding back to me and with each one I grimaced, not wanting to relive the period in my life where I was bitter and resentful, but too quiet and easily hurt to actually have an opinion.

However, because I avoided the entire experience as much as possible my reference library on the subject is sorely lacking. Even electro-shock couldn’t jumpstart this girl’s memory on this particular topic. So, in my infinite wisdom, where did I turn for inspiration?

Veronica Mars.

I’m not ashamed to say that I loved this show when it was on TV. It’s full of angst and quips and is thick with the high school atmosphere. It even has yellow lockers, and a handful of you out there know that the ones in my high school, in my head, were supposed to be red, but they’re not. They’re yellow. It had nothing to do with the show. The damned things just wanted to be yellow.

My stubborn lockers aside, what I’m saying is that I have such intentional limited recollection of my high school career that I’m looking to Veronica in an effort to create one for my characters. That’s because I spent the majority high school making case studies out of dumb jocks, emo kids, sorostitutes in training and the rest of the masses. Even then I was a reporter embedded, observing and categorizing, but always objective.

I never realized how emotionally removed I was from the experience until I had to write about it.


  1. I don't know this "Veronica Mars," character. She scares me.

    I've not had to worry about the high school silliness in my writing, but I suppose that if I did, I'd just make sure to spend more time at the wife's place of employment. Having a high school teacher for a wife would come in handy for such problems. :)

  2. Can Mel be my wife too? I'll use her for this purpose.