Control: Freshman Year

I don’t remember freshman year of high school well. I remember that I wanted to write a novel about each year of high school. I planned it while riding in my mom’s car heading to school that August. Frosh Step was to be the first one, and then the second was called Learning to Rock. The third would be called Rock On, and the fourth would be melodramatically titled Songs of an Angel, or something like that. I didn’t actually write any of those at the time, and I didn’t even really have an idea of the actual plots that each one would have. Our freshman year was in the Brainerd Building, a building so old that people wanted to knock it down. It survived my childhood and was destroyed when I was an adult. It was a square with a gym attached. Several people asked if anyone wanted to join sports teams, notably soccer, and I was pretty good at soccer, but I didn’t sign up. I sat in back of science class with a horny pseudo-friend named Carl. Carl had Playboy trading cards and talked constantly about the possibility of sex. There was also the hottest girl in school in that class. I remember telling Carl about the cards, “That’s not Brenda.” That was a 90210 joke, quite topical and perfect.

I remember other things from freshman year. I sat next to Sal during lunch for a bit, and I liked him. I didn’t make friends with him yet — that came later. I sat with him for a bit and then moved to a table with people who were weird and distant and unpopular and who didn’t become friends with me. They hated Sal with a passion and pretended that they were more popular than him. They weren’t. I remember I didn’t do the geography homework for the first month and almost flunked it until I turned it around — barely. Math was geometry and the last year when I understood anything math related.

In English we had a nice old lady teaching short stories and Charles Dickens. I didn’t like Charles Dickens because I remained a miserly, angst-ridden kid who refused to acknowledge Dickens’ greatness. I also didn’t read most of the short stories. I don’t remember much else except that she once counseled a girl who didn’t know that it was weird for a girl to have sex with her father. That stays with you.

I don’t remember much about ninth grade gym class so I’ll repeat something from eighth grade gym class. The teacher of eighth grade gym class was Mr. Ganon. He told us, on the last day of school, to give the most effort I could at everything that I did. He just wanted me to give as much effort to life that I wanted. He was great for saying that. I agree with him, almost thirty years later.

I don’t think that I was made fun of so much as I was ignored by virtually everyone. I certainly didn’t hang out with a single person the entirety of ninth grade. I had no friends. I had just moved to Libertyville, Illinois, from West Bloomfield, Michigan. My sister was starting college and wouldn’t be around. We had a cat, Frosty, who had attitude.

I read fantasy novels back then. I read David Eddings and Raymond Feist and Terry Brooks. One of my favorites was Robert Jordan. George R. R. Martin hadn’t made legend yet — I wouldn’t read those until I was an adult.

I remember Genesis and U2 were my favorite bands then, and I was laughed at for that. I also remember that there were liars teaching us abstinence. They said that they had failed to stop pregnancy with all five methods of preventing pregnancies, and to this day I call bullshit on that. They were making up that abstinence was the only answer. They were no-fun sticks in the mud, and I hate them to this day.

That was freshman year of high school. It was something. That’s what it was. I don’t know what, but it was something.

Thanks, and take care, friends.