Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The League's Guide to Starting High School

In the coming weeks, more than ten teenagers across our nation will be setting their foot onto a high school campus for the first time as freshmen.

My own freshmen year was an odd one, as our Freshman class (class of '93) was bused to a campus which had been built when projections indicated a school would be required in that area, but did not take a recession into account. Westwood was too large for all of us, so some of us wound up at The Freshman Annex (aka: McNeil High School).

My sophomore year I moved to Spring, where I had to, basically, start high school all over again.

So here are my tips:

1) I don't know what sexed-up, drugged-up high school the folks go to who write teenage dramas for the CW, but TV and movies are a complete fabrication. Do not expect for life to become glamorous and sexy.

Don't worry. The lack of perspective and tendency to romanticize your own life of the average high schooler will make it all seem a lot more glamorous and sexy than it actually is.

2) Get good grades. You may think you're the next Fifty Cent, but you're much more likely to be the next Ned Irwin, Middle Manager.

3) Join a club or find an activity for godsake.

4) Ask "why?" constantly.

5) Don't take classes because they'll be a blowoff. Save that for college.

6) Your friends are idiots.

7) Get your driver's permit as soon as you are legally able. Same with your driver's license.

8) Don't loan your car out.

9) Don't slide across the hood of your car like the Duke Boys. It will put a huge dent in the hood of your '83 Honda Accord which you will have to hammer out before The Admiral notices its there.

10) Find girls who are funny.

11) Have at least two friends who make you look good to your parents by comparison.

12) Have a few more who are more impressive than you, so they don't start worrying about you.

13) Go to shows as soon as you are able.

14) Stay friends with the kids who tell you they spent the weekend in jail, but reduce your "hangout time" with those kids.

15) Don't let small kids get picked on.

16) Call racist kids names and make fun of their families.

17) Never, ever make fun of truck drivers. Because both times you do, you will find out that you're making an American Truck Driving School joke to the child of a truck driver. Also, our economy would be crippled without the noble trucker.

18) Know how football and basketball work (baseball is optional).

19) Read books that you hear you aren't supposed to read.

20) Be nice to your mother.

21) Try not to embarrass The Old Man.

22) Chew gum.

23) You are not the first person to discover The Beatles, Jimi, The Who, whatever... but rock that shit.

24) Become an expert at figuring out the shelf-life of bands and popular music.

25) Keep a change of clothes handy.

26) Always keep $15 in cash. This is not to be spent unless absolutely necessary.

27) Know too much about one or two serial killers.

28) Know when to shut up and listen.

29) Be ready to walk away from friends.

30) Know that your friends will let you down.

31) Be ready to make friends your old friends don't like.

32) Watch movies from before the year you were born.

33) After 10:00 PM, it's a cliche, but Denny's is a perfectly acceptable destination.

33) Learn to drink coffee.

34) Figure out what food you can eat from a gas station.

35) Go to museums, free plays and concerts.

36) Take lots of pictures. Try to use film.

37) Think long and hard before deciding you're going to want to be seen as "an iconoclast"

38) Nobody is looking at you or thinking about you.

39) Drive around at night.

40) If anyone tells you these are the best days of your life, look upon them with pity.

So, Leaguers... what would you share?


J.S. said...

Be ready to walk away from friends? Know that your friends will let you down? Your high school experience was different than mine. And apparently much sadder.

tjeff said...

I walked away from friends, and made friends my old friends didn't like right away, and came out all the better for it.

My one piece of advice- You're not in love, you're still in High School.

Jill said...

You have 2 #33s. I fondly remember experiencing both of them with you.

The League said...

I should note, not all of these was I thinking of myself. #33, I most certainly was.

And TJeff, I tip my hat to your wisdom.

Michael Corley said...

Well put, well put.

I would add...

41: You're 99% likely to not end up doing what you think you're going to do, but for God's sakes, join aforementioned club/activity based on what you WANT to do. You shall not regret it.

42: Decided what you're going to do when you grow up. Seriously, decide right now. Be able to write it down. Be ready to change that as necessary, but move forward with that in mind.

horus kemwer said...

great list. friends change. end of story. Jason's fooling himself if he didn't notice that happening. and it's not necessarily sad, either.

Simon MacDonald said...

I'm guessing Denny's is much better in the states then it is in Canada. Also, I would add:

43: Every time a teacher gives you an assignment, go home and write/type the cover page. That way you've already started. When you have 5 assignments due on the same day it won't seem so overwhelming.

The League said...

I don't know if Denny's is better in the US, but it did have the benefit of being the only place within 10 miles of suburban Houston sprawl other than the grocery store and emergency room that stayed open and where you wouldn't get arrested for loitering.

J.S. said...

Just for the record, I still play in a band with one of my best high school friends, still see one of the others several times every year, and correspnd with others via the interwebs. I'm not fooling myself, and I think there's a big difference between inevitably losing touch with some friends and intentionally walking away from them. Also, I never really felt like my real friends let me down during high school. If anything, I felt like they supported me. Maybe I was just luckier than most (but I've always been sort of cautious about who I chose to be friends with in the first place).

The League said...

Maybe because I moved, it was just a different experience. I don't want to get into specifics, but I do think its important at that age to know where you draw a line.

That said, by and large, I was also very lucky. And I am still friends or friendly with many folks from those years.

But you're also not a kid so much anymore by high school, and if I were to meet a 14-year-old me, I'd tell him to (a) stay away from carbs, and (b) play it close to the vest, kid.

I don't consider it sad. It just is what it is. I also don't feel anybody wasn't my "real" friend, but I also remember having to do a lot of mental calculus on whether I was willing to put up with certain nonsense.

J.S. said...

Yeah, you're high school experience was very different from mine, I have no doubt. Friendship is on the short list of things that make life worth living.