As previously mentioned, the end of junior high and the beginning of high school was a step upward, insofar as a step out of the actual shit river of a sewer and into the pee and wastewater river is a step up.
Sophomore year represented my entry into the "theater crowd." God love the high school theater crowd; for yea, they accept yon outcasts and rejects without (much) judgment. I look back at those folks with bemusement, as I cannot pigeonhole any of us...certainly the "freak" contingent, with their stenciled jean jackets, were well represented, as were the tech geeks, the swing choir kids, the punkers, and of course the divas. Here and there, a football player, a cheerleader, a student council member. It was, for a time, what I considered to be our own little happily functioning Breakfast Club (which came out that very year).
Our theater teacher was, not surprisingly, very charismatic, as theater teachers are wont to be. She gave all appearances of relishing her role as the pied piper of this mad little bunch, and - for quite some time - I was a devoted follower.
About junior year, I developed a mad crush on one of the freakier boys in the theater crowd. Prior to meeting him, I had never listened to Pink Floyd much - oh, yes, we'd all heard "Another Brick in the Wall" ad nauseum when we were younger, but that was pretty much it. (As previously mentioned, I was not so much into the overarching KC Album-Oriented Rock Culture.) But, of course, to attempt ingratiate myself with a guy, I bought The Wall on album (no, wait, I believe we had graduated to cassette tapes by then,) and listened to it fairly constantly my junior year. Wish You Were Here and Dark Side of the Moon soon followed.
Sadly, however, though I became very conversational about the Roger Waters/David Gilmore oeuvre, said freaky boy never looked twice in my direction. Ah, well; looking back, that was probably REALLY for the best.
Otherwise, when the rest of my class was discovering early rap music - and yes, still wallowing in crap metal - I stayed partially locked into this retro mode, started largely with the Pink Floyd thing, and spurred on by my sister's renewed love for The Monkees, who were doing that whole big reunion tour right about then. I ended up listening to a lot of 60's music - The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Turtles, that sort of thing - which was all OK in the schema of the accepting theater geeks. For the first time in my life, "different" finally, FINALLY equaled "good;" even if it was only us that thought so.
Senior year, the cult of personality surrounding the drama teacher sort of fell apart for all of us. We started drifting away from her - some actively disenchanted by what I can see now were unprofessional hijinks, myself included - and others just moved on. For me, somewhere that year, 60's music gave way to R.E.M. and their jangly white-boy music counterparts, which form the segue into the next time period (most likely to be detailed during the next insomnia bout).
What I took away from that crowd, culture-wise, that stuck with me for what appears to be ever:
- The aforementioned Pink Floyd, many songs from whom are even now on my iPod
- More and more and more Monty Python
- This Is Spinal Tap (Oh, how I love the Tap. Even saw them live in college once. Brilliant.)
- All things Mel Brooks - particularly obsessive watchings and rewatchings of Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, and The History of the World, Part I.
- The holy John Hughes trilogy of Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and Pretty In Pink
- The Rocky Horror Picture Show. (Don't ask; I've lost count. Definitely more than 20. But it was in the day of the toast, cards, and hot-dog throwing, the water pistols and the newspapers, and the lighters. Do they do it anymore?)
- The Monkees (yes, YES, don't hate.)
(Readers, any recommendations? Didja go? Didja not? How was it? Sounds like Karla liked hers...maybe the vodka is the way to go.)
Next up: College, or The Era In Which I Could Finally Get Laid.