Posted on August 29, 2015August 29, 2015 by Patricia Ann McNair8.29.2015 Journal Prompt Image from St Elmo’s Fire August 29, 2015: They were never really friends. Like this:Like Loading... Related
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The moment we walked off the stage of our high school graduation five years ago I began to look forward to our first reunion. Every day at school had been such an adventure. Not that it was all fun. Just something different each day we walked in the door. And I wanted to know was if the adventure continued once we were apart.
.So now here is the day. We are grownups now sort of, and the last time we saw each other we were all still kids. At least most of us. A few stayed back after high school, did odd jobs, waiting for “the right opportunity.” Or not. Some of us were working, some college, some a little of both. Married, divorced, single, gay and straight, with and without kids.
We were all seniors in Ms Schneider’s homeroom class. I feel sorry for her now looking back. The bell would ring throughout the school letting all know that they better be in their seats. Since we were seniors we got a little slack, especially the last few months. We’d drag out butts into the early class with the defiance of those who know the rules: We were technically allowed 5 minutes between classes and knew how to push the rule by the time we were seniors: “what are you going to do, flunk us?” we would snark. Ms Schneider would kinda roll her eyes letting us know she didn’t think it was cool, and we would all put down our weapons and behave for another homeroom session.
A few of us did manage to flunk even with this leniency. Marty, the one on the end with the hat, had to take summer classes to finally graduate. They let him walk for graduation, but only with a reminder to all that he had not quite finished. Not sure he learned his lesson. We are all still trying to find our way, but he seems to be the most challenged. Living with his girl friend Wendy, still sorting it all out. She’s the one sitting next to him with the sad smile. Wendy is probably going places with going to community college and all. But she and boy friend Marty haven’t yet figured out what they’re about.
And there were the other couples. I’m sure very graduating class has ‘em. They are already ‘till death do us part, and they’re not out of the house yet. Our gang had two: Frank and Nancy, and Lou and Peggy.
Nancy was the one with the best brains in the school. She always set the curve in any of our classes, always aced the exams. Her SAT scores were through the roof, and of course she went on to Smith. Her then boyfriend Frank was no slouch himself. They were always competing for top spot in high school so I don’t know how they got along. Nancy won out in the end. She was our valedictorian, Fred was salutatorian. Fred followed her when she went to Smith, attended another school. U Mass or something. We all got invites to their wedding last year when they graduated. I went and Peggy and Lou showed up: he had just got out of the service back then. The two of them were also talking wedding bells at the time. I guess they finally tied the knot a few months later but no one was told till after. But anyway, when we got back together this time with Frank and Nancy they are still competing. You can even see in the photo that they are kind of arched away from each other. They argued about silly stuff such as trying to remember who was the better chess player in high school. I don’t know how they manage but it seems to work for them.
And then there’s Lou and Peggy. Lou who always wanted to join the Marines. He’s fifth from the right, sitting next to Nancy. His hair is a little longer now but he has the straight shoulders from those Marine years. He was always getting into fights for no real reason. No broken bones, maybe a bloody nose or scrape for his antagonist. Time in the principal’s office. In school suspension, and had to stay home a few times. But he never got in trouble with the law. He knew better than to push the rules that far. The Marines loved him. One of the “few good men.” It was great to see him with his big muscles under that jacket and his square jaw. He is applying to law school now under the GI Bill and will make a hell of a lawyer.
Sitting next to him is his girl Peggy, the blonde looking over at him. She was the sweetest girl in school—and she needed all that sweetness to speak up for Lou’s moods. When he got himself in a bind it was Peggy who stood up for him. We wouldn’t always agree with them but it was hard to stay mad at Lou with his sweetheart standing by him.
OK so we didn’t really get along that well. In fact there were many times when we really hated each other. But the glue that held us together wasn’t the sticky kind that is sweet to taste. It was more a bitter caustic kind of adhesive, like sand held in place by horse glue. Roosevelt High School was good to us. We learned stuff and got our lessons done. Ms. Schneider’s patience paid off. But what happened around that was what made it such an adventure.
By now you’ve figured out that I’m on the end next to the bicycle. They call me Ace. Aaron is the name my parents gave me but it never stuck. Somehow in junior high Aaron became Ace. Where I work at the body shop no one would know who you were talking about if you called and asked for Aaron. The mechanic job seems to suit me fine. Wasn’t much for schooling but got by. My dad was good with tools and I guess I learned a lot from him crawling around under cars and handing him stuff. By the time I was 14 I was building cars. I would drive them around the lot at dad’s garage but didn’t get to hit the street till 2 years later. Now I’m 23 I can pretty much fix anything. I built the bike from scrap parts, like I’ve done with cars. Not as good with the ladies as I am with machines. They take a different kind of attention it seems. I had a steady girl at Roosevelt. Michelle. She dropped me for some other guy after that night I stood her up. Really didn’t mean to. I was working on this really cool 1968 Chevy Impala and was just getting the old eight cylinders to fire. I totally forgot. By the time I remembered, got all the grease off my hands and got to the phone it was too late.
Doing a little better now. My new girl Al didn’t want to come to the big party. She doesn’t know anybody anyway and said that the old gang would probably bore her. She’s trying to make a name for herself in sales. She sells a couple lines of women’s clothing and has some accounts with big stores in the city. She is always looking her best and turns heads whenever we go out. I gotta be careful with her. I don’t want to lose her because my head is too full of grease and oil. We seem to be getting along though. I met her folks and they seem to like me. I think they’re worried that Al was going to be stuck up and not find a man, so they were smiling a lot when I met them. You know you get that feeling when something seems too good to be true and that it might fall down on top of you if you don’t keep your eyes open? That’s the way it is with me and Al. I hope we can make it work. Life seems good to me right now.
So there you have us. The old gang. It was good to see each of them, so see where our adventures have taken us. It was nothing like what I imagined five years ago. I guess I thought back then that we would be 18 years old forever, just getting together every 5 or 10 years to swap stories. But it’s way different from that. I can see that we’re each of us pushing to do the best we can in our own little worlds. Some of us have tried to aim for the stars, others of us just wanna hang around and be comfortable where we are. There aren’t any heroes or villains. The ones who are driven to succeed also seem to have bigger problems than the rest of us who are still crawling around under cars in the dirt. When we get together five or ten years from now there will be more changes. Some of us will have grey hair. There will be kids by then. Some will have landed high paying jobs and will show up in suits and big cars. Others will be struggling just to leave home and start their own life.
So we might be a little wiser as our adventure moves along. We might not be what Ms. Schneider thought we could become if we just listened to her. We might each have different life stories and achievements to talk about ever 5 years. But we still will be the old gang from Roosevelt High. As I listen to the stories from my friends, and share some tears and laughter, where we each of us is going no longer seems all that important. We each know that whatever happens in the years to come we will know who to turn to. Even though we were never really friends.
Nice, David. “…my head is too full of grease…” Great to find your hear in these pages again.
I’m always out there just can’t get to writing as much as I’d like. I took this on because of Lindsay’s naming suggestions. At least 7 names and stories to fit together. Funny how after I write something the lines that are the best are the ones that I just wrote down without thinking. Yes a lot of guys have grease and oil on the brain. More later