We’ve been doing “Songs for the Dumped” for awhile now, and if we’ve learned anything it’s that:
1. People are at heart mean and vindictive, and
2. Apparently nobody had a good time in high school, because, like, all of these stories are about high school.
Did anyone actually enjoy themselves during this phase? Who are these people that call it the “best four years of their lives?” Are they insane? Liars? Elves? If you have a good high school story, hit us up in the comments down there; meanwhile, Py Korry checks in with a story about two sisters, and Pete Townshend.
“Sisters of No Mercy”
By Py Korry
It’s 1983, and it’s my senior year of high school. At a party one weekend I have a long conversation with Gwen, who’s there with a bunch of friends, and her younger sister, Jenna. Gwen and I talk for over an hour and it’s clear (to me, that is) that the two of us are starting to fall for each other. There’s a lot of smiling, a few not-so-subtle touches to the arm after a couple well timed jokes, and even a couple of slow dances. I was going in for the whole “kiss and then get her number” thing, when her friends said they had to leave. Crap! Could this get any worse? Sadly, yes.
When I saw her at school on Monday, I asked if she would help me with my Geometry homework — since she was getting an A and I was wallowing in the C-/D+ realm. She said she would, and I drove over to her house that night, where she did help me with my homework, and I asked her out. She said “yes” and I floated home thinking I had won the Publishers Clearinghouse Sweepstakes. Stupidly, I made plans with my friend Matt to double date. We were going to go to San Francisco on Friday to get dinner, and then off to some arty-farty movie with Sting (Brimstone and Treacle ) and then, hopefully, a lot of making out.
On Thursday, Jenna (Gwen’s younger sister) and I were talking in class about nothing in particular. I was completely blind to the fact that Jenna had a crush on me. Jenna was a sophomore and I was a senior, so I just thought of her as a kid. I don’t know why, but I told Jenna that I asked her sister out. Jenna nonchalantly said “Oh yeah?” And I said, “Yeah, I think this is going to be great.” The bell rang and we parted ways with her thinking that it wasn’t going to be “great” if she could help it.
Friday afternoon; 3:15 pm
The final bell rings as I’m scrambling to get my books for the weekend. I see my friend Mike in the hall and ask him for a ride home. He says, “SureÁ¢€¦but did you talk to Gwen today?” I said, “No,” and he replied with an “Oh…well, I’ll see you at my van. Later.” Suspicious, I ask him what he knows, and he keeps saying, “You gotta talk to her, man.” I know where her last class is, so I sort of half-jog up the hallway to her classroom where she’s just getting ready to leave.
“Hey! All set for tonight?” I start in an upbeat tone.
“Um…I…can’t go out with you tonight — or any night, for that matter.”
“Yeah, sorry but…I…just can’t.” And with that, she left.
I limped, crawled, and/or slinked to my friend’s van where he was waiting. He said he had to get something and he’d be right back. I popped in the tape he had in the deck and on comes “Slit Skirt” (download) from Pete Townshend’s All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes. The opening piano strains, Townshend’s wounded voice, and lyrics about frustration and age…it was all so depressingly perfect. My friend comes back, gets in the driver’s seat, looks at me, looks at the tape deck, looks at me again, and just starts laughing. He’s laughing hard, and the longer the song plays, the more he laughs. I tell him it’s not funny, and he sort of half-apologizes, but it’s clear that my pain is high comedy for him. He finally confesses that he knew she was going to dump me, but didn’t have the heart to tell me before she did.
The only thing I could muster was: “But you sure know how to kick a friend when he’s down, don’t you, asshole.”
Fast forward to 2005…
I hosted a tribute to Michael Semanick — who went to my high school and won an Oscar for his sound work on Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. After the show, I was talking to my trophy wife, Julie, and our daughter when this woman comes up to me and gives me a hug.
“You don’t remember me, do you,” she said.
“Ah…not really.” I say in a semi-stunned tone.
“It’s Gwen! You know, from high school.”
We talked for a bit, I introduced her to Julie, and the four of us made small talk until it was clear there was nothing left to talk about. Eventually they left, and Julie turned to me and said: “How do you know her?”
I said, ” Um, I had a huge crush on her in high school. But I’m glad things didn’t work out because, honestly, she looks like trailer trash now.”
Julie said: “Well, I’m glad you were the one to point that out, because I wasn’t going to say anything.”