Sunday, March 13, 2011

Free to Be Me

I am sitting at my parents' house, attempting to recover from the sugar overload that was Bloomington's Taste of Chocolate and fighting the urge to run for the bathroom.  Too much information?

My inspiration for writing at this moment came due to the posting by a friend on Facebook of something that caused a strange internal conflict for me.  As you may not have already realized, I can be a bit cynical and perhaps snarky at times.  I have always shied away from over-sentimentalizing things, but I realize that some of the things I love to mock do hold honest value to other people that I know and respect.

In this case, the thing in question dates back to my high school days.  At WHS, it is tradition (at least is was back in the 90's) for the senior class to create a mass-produced shirt to be worn during Homecoming and other school-spirit type events.  I believe I found this to be cool for about two minutes during my freshman year.  After that, I found it to be a bit lame.  Just call me the Anti-Cardinal.  I really was lacking in the school spirit department.

Normally, these shirts were quite simple.  They typically made some reference to the projected year of graduation (1998 in our case) and also the obvious fact that we were Seniors.  If you're from another country and are not familiar with the traditional names for high school/college students, you're not missing anything, but essentially, students in their final year of high school or college are called Seniors.

While I found this tradition to be a bit silly, I still bought a shirt.  I was not as ornery about things back then as I am now.  Unfortunately (in my opinion), my class could not be content with the usual simple adornments.  Oh no.  We had to make an attempt to distinguish ourselves as being clever/creative/funny.  How was this accomplished?  By creating our own "Top 5 List" a la David Letterman.

Let me just say that if I had ANY input into this list, NONE of these things would have made it in.  They were all far to obvious and or incorrect for my taste, but alas I was not consulted.  Here is what I would have chosen (based off of my opinion at this moment):

5.  Yes, we partied a lot, but hey, MOST of us are graduating in May!
4.  At least our football team won ONE game this year, right?
3.  It does not matter what anyone else thinks, WE think we're cool!
2.  Let's be honest, the last four years were probably the best four years of our lives.
1.  Who wants to do a keg stand?!?!

So maybe some of these things may not have cleared the moral standards of our high school administration, but based on what I recall about my class, I find it to be quite accurate.  In short, my class was mostly well known as a bunch of party-kids.  Fortunately, our 10-year reunion revealed that this label has not prevented many of my classmates from leading successful lives.  But at that point in time, it was anyone's guess.

So now I suppose you are wondering what our actual list said.  Here it is (along with my personal commentary):

5.  First class to graduate from D.A.R.E.  (See #5 and #1 in my list if you appreciate irony.  If you don't know what D.A.R.E. is, Google it.)
4.  First to go all 4, FINALLY we're out the door.  (Our new high school opened when we were freshman.  I hardly think this really counts as an accomplishment.  It really is more a function of when our town was willing to pass a bond referendum for a new facility.)
3.  The cutest guys in WHS history.  (To be honest, this one confused me from the start.  It is a well-established fact that this distinction belonged to the Class of '95.  No contest.  If someone cares to offer a rebuttal and offer specific examples, please do.)
2.  We ruled 2 Homecomings!  (Again, confusing.  I think that they were referencing the fact that we were quite disrespectful towards the Class of '97 in the previous year.  This is something to brag about?  Is that all we've got?!?!?!)
1.  We're good enough, we're smart enough, and gosh darn it, Erdmann loves us!  (First of all, Erdmann was the principal.  Second, I get the SNL reference, I really do.  But do we really want to liken ourselves to Stuart Smalley, a character who is addicted to therapy?  On second thought, I take it back.  It's perfect.)

Now that I have brought you up to speed, I should probably explain the Facebook posting.  One of my friends found her old shirt, took a picture of the back and posted it to FB asking if anyone remembered it.  My first instinct was to make a disparaging comment about how much I hated the list.  Then I read the comments and realized that another friend had actually been part of making this list.

Although I realize that a snarky comment would only be directed towards a list that she helped make at the tender age of 17 or 18, it likely would not be appreciated.  Thus, I am relegating my rant to the more confined and personal realm of my own blog.  That way, even if she should choose to read it, my comments will not be attached to the actual picture and feelings may be spared.

Does this make me a nice person?  I probably wouldn't make that leap if I were you.  Just to be clear, I did enjoy high school about 95% of the time.  As overall experiences in my life rate, it was a good time, even though I was not involved in the normal activities favored by my class in particular (See items #5 and #1 in MY list).  See this entry if you want to know about my illegal activities in high school. 

In conclusion I ask, does any of this matter?  Honestly?  To me?  No.  I do not define myself on such a brief and concentrated period of my life.  Has it shaped me as a person?  Oh sure, probably quite a bit.  (Can you hear me saying that with my MN accent?  I threw that in for fun.)  Obviously, if it still has the ability to drive me to write an entire blog entry, I am not completely past it, but I am grateful that it has given me inspiration to vent about something in a way that I never could at that time.  Yay for the internet!

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