Sunday, February 15, 2009

Another 25 Random Things - The Wyandotte Edition

Well, since Flunky Lover complained that my last list of random things wasn't anything she didn't already know, I figured I'd try to come up with another list that might be more enlightening, focusing on my pre-collegiate years.

1. I never really skipped school because (a) I was a bit of a goody two-shoes -- okay, a MAJOR goody two-shoes -- and (b) I knew that if I had skipped, my mom would have found out about it very quickly, and that would have been that. About the closest I ever came to skipping was when a group of us were heading to Miami to compete in an Academic Bowl. We were just getting ready to get in the car when someone came running out to say that there had been a mistake, and we weren't really supposed to leave for another couple of hours. We all looked at each other, yelled back "tell them you missed us," hopped in the car, and headed to NEO, where we feigned ignorance and goofed off in the Student Union for a couple of hours.

2. I have not always bled Orange and Black; in my younger days, I was raised in a very Sooner-friendly household. It wasn't until I got to go to OSU to play at a half-time show for High School Band Day that I began to see the light. Getting to sit right next to the OSU band and get caught up in the energy and excitement of the game made a huge impact on my appreciation for the school; it makes me ashamed to know that the first thing I did upon putting together my saxophone earlier that day was play "Boomer Sooner" and laugh about it -- so, so ashamed.

3. When it comes to Christmas tree toppings, I have always preferred stars to angels. For ages, we had a very funky, art deco-ish star that graced the top of tree after tree, and despite it becoming worn down, beat up, and faded, I loved that ugly, ugly, ugs-in-the-ugly thing. So, when mom tried replacing it with an angel, I objected. And while I personally don't remember saying the following, my mom will never let me live down the fact that my objection apparently came by way of me complaining that I didn't want to see an angel with a tree up its butt.

4. When it comes to social situations, I am almost always early, sometimes to the point of having to sit outside in my car and wait for it to get close enough to the prescribed arrival time for me to go in. There's a lot of factors involved (fear of getting lost, fear of missing out on stuff), but a lot of it comes from the fact that mom and dad were always very lackadaisical about such things. "Oh, don't worry the bus won't leave without you," mom once said to me as we were running late to drop me off for a TSA trip; she, however, was wrong, as the bus was pulling away from the school as we drove up. After that I became much more insistent about being early, which actually earned me the "Early Bird Award" at Speech Camp that following summer.

5. Speech Camp was not exactly the most thrilling time of my life, and outside of finding a new creepy prose piece to replace "The October Game" and discovering that Extemporaneous Speaking wasn't as bad as I'd thought and was a prime way of meeting Mrs. Sharbutt's "you must compete in 3 events at each tournament" rule without actually having to prepare more material, most of the time we spent there consisted of us finding other ways to entertain ourselves. The one that sticks out the most was our compilation of a list of movies with one word titles, a list I became somewhat obsessed with and fixated on as I'm wont to do, working on it at home as well, a fact that earned me strange looks and derision from others when I mentioned it; of course, they also didn't understand why I insisted on disqualifying films for having initial articles or a subtitle. Yes, I was that anal.

6. Going along with that whole "goody-two-shoes" thing, I rarely if ever cussed when I was younger, but by the time I had gotten to Jr. High I had settled into the mind-set that most curse words were really just frowned upon because of social mores and not for any inherent evil in the words themselves; I still avoided using them because I knew I'd get in trouble, but not out of any inner distaste at the language. So, when one of my classmates dared me to say a curse word and I did with little to no hesitation, she was both startled and entertained, and soon made a game out of it, randomly turning to me and saying "Hey, Todd . . . say [expletive deleted]." I would good-naturedly roll my eyes and comply. The only exception: taking the Lord's name in vain. Even during my moderately foul-mouthed college years, I might not hesitate to drop an f-bomb from time to time, but nary a g.d. would pass my lips.

7. The same classmate who delighted in getting me to cuss later on declared that she was going to marry me when we grew up because she knew I'd be successful, a promise that she made sure to include while signing my yearbook. However, I was not going to be her first husband; no, she also planned to marry Troy Aikman first, but would leave him for me at some point. Later on, she also added another one of my classmates to the list, bumping me back to husband number three; my mom informed her that she didn't know about letting her baby boy be third on the list, to which my erstwhile future spouse replied "Oh, don't worry Mrs. Enoch, I'll save myself for him; I'm practically president of the V Club!." Later, when she found out I was majoring in English, the promises of matrimony disappeared . . .

8. Up until some point in high school I was pretty sheltered and naive about quite a few things; I can't count how many times somebody would make a sexual innuendo and I wouldn't have the foggiest idea what they were talking about, often putting my foot in my mouth. The odd thing is, my parents did not consciously shelter me; if I came up to them and asked "What does so-and-so mean?" they would freely answer me. At least a couple of times, even they were surprised by how little I knew . . .

9. I have never really enjoyed being in a leadership position in any organization; honestly, most of the times I ran for an office it was because I felt like it was expected of me. If I wasn't the most lackluster Student Council president Wyandotte had ever seen, I was probably pretty high up the list. I guess most people just didn't realize that I was just a slacker at heart. Which is not to say that me getting beat out for an office was a relief; I hated losing regardless of whether I really wanted it or not.

10. The Student Council state convention was always interesting because you wound up staying at a host family's house. It got even more interesting my Senior year, when my host family was Asian, and another StuCo attendee and I got dragged along to the restaurant owned by the host family because it was the grandmother's birthday; however, being white devils, we were not allowed at the party itself, and so were stuck at a little table on the other side of the restaurant. On the up side, that's when I learned I liked shrimp tempura . . .

11. I did not get my drivers license until after I'd been away at college for a couple of years. To be honest, the biggest reason why I didn't try to learn to drive was because I'd convinced myself I was too uncoordinated and lacking of spatial sense to handle a motor vehicle and would probably kill myself if I ever tried. While this put a definite crimp in my social life, it worked to my advantage at the aforementioned StuCo state convention, when the kid whose family we were staying with tried to drag us to a drunken party and wanted me to be designated driver. If I had just tried to play the "I"m a goody-two-shoes, uncomfortable with going to a drunken party, and really don't want to navigate my way around the big city at night carting around a couple of inebriated underagers" card, the debate might have lasted for ages, but saying that I didn't have a license put it to bed pretty quickly. He wasn't all that friendly to me after that, for some reason.

12. For most of my life, my parents have been pretty hands off when it comes to my decisions about what avenues to pursue, not wanting to become those pushy parents who try to live vicariously through their children. So, there are only two times when I can remember my mom forcing me to join an organization: 4-H in 4th grade and TSA in 8th. They both turned out to be great moves for me, as 4-H helped me discover my knack for public speaking, and TSA expanded on that knack, gave me the opportunity to travel places I might never have otherwise, and also helped me break out of my shell. In retrospect, maybe they should have been pushy a little more often . . .

13. My first year in 4-H, our chapter did a circus themed skit for the local Share-the-Fun. My role was that of a hyper-active poodle whose trainer finally cries out in exasperation "get down!" . . . at which point, I would start to boogie-oogie-oogie on down off the stage. However, when it came time for us to come on stage, the Ringmaster's index cards stuck together, and he skipped right over our intro and we never got to go on stage. While I was pretty upset at the time, in retrospect I should probably thank Brandon for saving me from humiliating myself in public like that.

14. My Senior year I took two classes as independent study because the times of the actual classes conflicted with two other classes I really wanted to take. The two independent study classes where Chemistry, which I took at the same time as the Physics class, and Geometry, which I took at the same time as an Algebra I class. For Chemistry, I was pretty much a part of the actual Physics class, for which I will be eternally grateful, because watching my classmates do their best to drive Coach Crowley to distraction was endlessly entertaining. But for Geometry I was segregated to the computer room attached to the main math class room, for which I will be eternally grateful, because it meant that I was able to goof off endlessly when I was supposed to be hard at work, especially since the teacher didn't give me any assignments to hand in, trusting that I would work all the problems because I was a good little over-achiever. Again; people really didn't pick up on that whole "inner slacker' thing.

15. I still remember the first time I saw one of those 3-d hidden pictures; it was the afternoon of Senior Day at North Eastern Oklahoma A&M. After we got done, we weren't expected to go back to school, so some of us decided to head to Joplin to the mall. Somehow I wound up going with Regan and Craig, which was a little odd since none of us ever really hung out with each other; can't remember how that grouping got formed. Anyway, while we were roaming around the mall we came across a display of one of the pictures at Off the Wall, I believe. Later, when I watched Mallrats, I would greatly identify with Willam's dogged determination to see the picture. When it finally clicked, I was treated to a collection of dinosaurs. I don't remember if I saw it first, or if Regan did; I just remember that Craig was having a devil of a time getting the hang of it and we burned a lot of time because he refused to leave until he finally saw something.

16. In 12 years of attending school at Wyandotte, I never once ate cafeteria food for lunch. In the beginning, this was a product of my extreme pickiness as a child; as I grew older, it became a strange and twisted point of pride. The day after Freshman graduation when I could finally walk uptown to Butterfield's and get my own burger instead of having to rope some upperclassman into it was a grand, grand day.

17. Going back to the goody-two-shoes thing again-- that does seem to pop up a lot in my youth, doesn't it? -- I also made it through my entire scholastic career without getting swats. Which is not to say I never got in trouble; I did get detention and have to write sentences once in a while, but I never acted up enough to warrant swats -- much to the dismay of Mr. Phillips, my 7th and 8th grade history teacher, who sort of prided himself on being able to provoke students into acting out so he could give them swats; he once complained to my mom that I refused to rise to his bait. I'll never forget the day he told one of my classmates "Travis, you laugh like a little girl," and Travis replied "Yeah, well, you laugh like a pig." Boom, swat time.

18. Not too long before starting kindergarten, I misheard something someone said about the playground at the school and the slides and concrete; I thought that instead of "concrete" they had said "some creek," and so I was freaked out about going there, because all of the slides would be in the middle of the water, and you'd have to swim to them, and I couldn't swim.

19. Because we can't hit the goody-two-shoes theme too many times: I was so incredibly worried about not breaking rules that I would occasionally drive me parents to distraction. When I was about 6 or 7 we were over at my Papaw's house and he had some cinnamon schnapps which he let dad try; dad only took a sip, but I freaked out, because he was the one who was going to drive me home and, y'know, he'd been drinking. Another time mom and dad had to change plans and drop me off at Papaw's instead of taking me to the movies with them because I had realized the movie they were going to take me to was rated R, and I knew I was far too young to see anything like that.

20. The day I realized I was going to have to get glasses was one of the worst days of my young life. I was in Jr. High, and trying desperately -- without much success, may I add -- to "reinvent" myself, break out of that "super-nerd" mold I'd been stuck in forever. The thought of suddenly becoming a Four Eyes tore me up, even though in all my years I had never heard anyone at my school actually being taunted for their eye-wear. Of course, my very first day at school with my glasses, one of my classmates who shall remain nameless saw me in the halls and loudly made a crack along the lines of how funny it was that "Mr. Perfect" -- his words, not mine, trust me -- had to wear glasses now; just the sort of positive reinforcement my young neurotic self needed, no?

21. I remember sitting on the band bus in the 9th grade on the way to an away football game and hearing all of the upperclassmen spouting such bizarre phrases as "A sphincter says what?" and "Schwing!" which made me very curious to check out this "Wayne's World" thing everyone was so into. And thus began my love affair with early 90s Saturday Night Live, which was pretty much my first ever "water cooler" show -- or water fountain, as the case may be. Although my tastes might not have always been in step with my schoolmates -- I couldn't understand why everyone was talking about that first Chicago Superfans skit the next day at school when it hadn't even made me chuckle at all -- my discovery of that iteration of SNL gave me more of a consistent conversational common ground with the people around me than pretty much anything else had ever. A shallow connection, perhaps, but socially backward teen Todd was thankful for any crutch he could grab on to.

22. When I was in 7th grade, our school had a policy of having an Exemption Day for semester tests for students with high enough grades and attendance; despite having the highest GPA in my class, and hardly ever missing school, paranoid, worst-case-scenario neurotic that I was I would never allow myself to believe that I was actually going to be exempt until the list was actually announced. I know on at least one occasion this earned me the enmity of most of my classmates when one teacher asked everyone who was going to be exempt to raise their hands, and I wouldn't do it. I'm not sure if my classmates thought I was showing false modesty, trying for attention, or just being incredibly stupid for a smart kid, but I can clearly remember the rancor in their voices as they cajoled me "come on, Todd, put your hand up, you now you're going to be exempt, just put your hand up, stop being stupid, just put your hand up already!" But in my mind, Murphy's Law was paramount, so I remained steadfast. And I wonder why I wasn't more popular . . .

23. During recess in elementary school,when my friends were playing basketball, I would avoid getting drawn into the actual game, and would instead pretend that I was a sports reporter, trying to interview them about the game in progress. Man, was I a colossal dork.

24. My sophomore year our class decided to do a walk-a-thon as a fund raiser for some reason; however, the day we were scheduled to do it happened to be incredibly rainy, so instead of walking around the track as originally planned, we instead walked around the Old Gym. To help pass the time, someone decided to play some music; however, they only had one tape available: Vanilla Ice's "To the Extreme." Not sure how many times I got to hear Mr. Van Winkle's magnum opus that day, but let's just say that there's a good reason why, even though I have never listened to that album all the way through anytime before or since then, I will still randomly get the chorus to "Stop That Train (I Want to Get Off)" stuck in my head.

25. My graduating class had quite a reputation; okay, so we had several. A reputation for running off math teachers; a reputation for steadily losing members so that our Senior graduating class was just a fraction of our Freshman graduating class; a reputation for intense slackerdom and internal strife. I can only remember the class as a whole pulling together one time, and that was our Junior year, when word came that the Seniors were convinced that we were going to throw them a horrible prom; the common joke was that we were going to have it at Farley Hill, and the banquet would just be a wiener roast. For some reason, this particular bit of derision galvanized my classmates, and we set out to throw the Seniors pretty much the same prom they had thrown the year before, raising enough money to hold it on the Cherokee Queen. In retrospect, maybe people should have ticked us off more often, who knows what we could have accomplished . . .

3 comments:

Flunky lover said...

I had no idea you liked shrimp tempura.

Mr. Phillips sounds like an asshole.

Cap'n Neurotic said...

Yeah, shrimp tempura tends to be my standard order at Chinese restaurants, if they don't have that and aren't a buffet, I'm usually in trouble.

Cedric said...

Good stuff. I actually don't remember a time you didn't have glasses. They always seemed a part of you.
I have never been a fan of Phillips or Crowley. I always felt they were both a waste of life. Goading children into doing something wrong just so you can beat them? I wouldn't piss in either one's mouth if his guts were on fire. However, I believe I had the distinction of receiving swats from every teacher at Wyandotte, at one time or another.
If you are always early or, at least on time, you obviously don't have a woman in your life. They shoot that on-time thing to hell in a hurry.
I, also, was never a huge fan of SNL. I just never found it that funny. But, since that's all we talked about in Sunday school the next day, I tried to at least keep up with it.