Sunday, December 30, 2007

Return To and Escape From Cow Country High

Last year I made a News Years Resolution that I would Chronicle my experience of moving to Utah and attending a strange redneck high school. I did pretty good for awhile but then hit a speedbump. This New Years I would like to reaffirm my lastyears resolution by continuing the saga.

I moved to Utah in January of 1991 and despite my many postings I did not even tell the story through May to finish my sophomore year of school.

When I think back to those final months of that term there are only a couple of mentional events that stand out in my mind.

A girl who we shall call Tony Faye Baker introduced herself to me. If anyone thinks that I chose a mean name then I will have you know I toned it down from Tony Fay Barker. I made an effort to be less of a jerk but that's all you get.

Pretty close to the time I arrived at Cow Country High, Tony Faye introduced herself to me. She's short, curvy, short, has red hair and wears a lot of make up. And she's short. Quite short. She caught up to me after school and followed me to the bus I rode to the other side of the lake. Judging me by my long hair and Metallica T-shirts, she said, "It is so nice to finally have someone COOL in this school."

To tell the truth, I don't remember how I responded to that. Nor do I remember the rest of the chit chat that she made as we walked from my locker to the bus. I do remember that she made a desperate, last-ditch effort to get my attention when I started climbing the stairs to the bus. She blurted out, "Do you smoke?"

I stopped and said, "No." She seemed disappointed, like that could have been OUR THING that we did together. Our bond. I told her, "All of my friends started smoking and doing other drugs in middle school and by the time I even considered smoking, they were all trying to quit. So I figured, why bother?"

It wasn't much later that Tony's friend approached me. I could tell that it was going to be awkward. Her friend approache me and asked me if I knew about the Sweetheart Ball that was coming up. I tensed up at the idea that she was going to ask me to the dance. But she didn't. She asked me to ask Tony Faye to the Sweatheart Ball. She told me that Tony Faye realy wanted me to take her. And then she begged. And begged.

I felt bad, so I told her I would think about it. After that, every time I saw the friend she would bug me about it. "Are you going to ask her? She really wants you to ask her? Just ask her!" But I kept putting off giving a definite answer.

Then one day I figured it out. PAY ATTENTION HERE because what I am about to tell you could save your life. I found the ultimate out. I came up with the ultimate excuse. And it wasn't just an excuse. It was the truth. It was simple, incontrovertible fact. It was a guilt-free, bullet-proof way out.

The next time I saw Tony's friend, she was pressuring me: "Are you going to do it? Just do it!"

And I calmly and confidently fed her my line. I said, "I can't go to the Sweetheart's Ball... because it's formal and I. DON'T. DRESS. UP. I don't. I don't wear shirts and ties and junk. It's nothing personal. It's the way it is. My hands are practically tied. I couldn't go if I wanted to. On account that I. DON'T. DRESS. UP."

And do you know what happened next. The girl let out a heavy sigh and then she turned and walked away. And she never bothered me about it again. There are no cracks in this defense. There is no chink in this armor. If you don't dress up then you don't dress up. People understand that it is rude to ask you to change such a deep-rooted personal rule. I couldn't believe the answer had been under my nose the entire time.

Keep that in mind when you wake up on your wedding day with cold feet. Believe me, they will all understand.

About six months ago I was telling my wife that I wasn't sure about what to post next in regard to Cow Country. I said, all I can think of from that time period is the story about how I DIDN'T ask a girl to a dance and how I actually believed that I had really given an infallible reason as to why I couldn't go. I told her the fast version of the story and she started laughing so hard that the water she was drinking came bursting out of her mouth. She said, "Stupid! Don't tell me funny things when I'm taking a drink." I told her that I also hadn't realized it was such a funny story.

Anyway, back in Cow Country, I came to learn that there was a house full of blonde amazon girls who lived on my side of the lake. The tallest at 6'4", Athena, was in my grade. I had Algebra II with her older sister, Venus, who was about 6 foot. And I met the youngest one, Firestarter, a paltry 5' 10", one day while riding the bus home. Just to see what she was like, I said a bunch of dumb stuff to her and she listened to me babble with wide eyes and a silly grin and she rightly treated me like an idiot.

Flaming Gorge is a pretty place with a lot to take in visually. You can drive around for hours and be content just to stare. Before Minnow moved to the area I had to find ways to entertain myself besides reading and listening to music to pass all that time when I wasn't driving around.

Even at that age, I liked to write and I was actually excited when one of the first assignments given to me was to write a fictional story. My English teacher was also the Principal (Principal It-Rubs-The-Lotion-On-Its-Skin) and my immediate thought was to write a story that was good enough that you couldn't just stamp it with an "F" and throw it out but also to write a story which was powerfully and inequivocally.... annoying.

It took me a week or so of dedicated work but I finished the story more than a week before it was due. However, the final draft of the story had to be typed to be turned in and I did not have a computer and I also thought "double spaced" was something involving the Spacebar. I heard that Minnow's sister, The Epitome of Sweetness, was good at typing and I asked her to type it up for me. She said she would but she never finished. The last day of school found me in the computer room typing up the story two months late. I gave it to the principal and he told me the best grade he could possibly give me was a "C" because it was so late. But he liked it so much that he gave me a "B" anyway.

The story has a lot of influences. Some are obvious, such as the SNL Wayne's World skits and Ninja Turtles. But there are also a lot of unsung influences like my little brother (who constantly played Monopoly against himself as a kid), like my fifth grade girlfriend who once asked me "Don't you think that Barnacle Billy Bob is the funniest name you've ever heard?" which it wasn't but I put it in anyhow. And in my English classes in California I had a friend named Jeremy. One time the teacher was reading us a story and he alone kept busting up with uproarious laughter. The teacher asked him why he kept laughing at a story about a destitute family enduring a hard cruel winter and he told her it was because the author kept saying things like, "They were completely penniless, except for the $62 they had."

When the Principal instructed us on the art of telling a story, he told us time and again that using a line like "It was a dark and stormy night" was the worst possible thing you could do. He promised violence against student who would dare to start their story with a line of this type. So, of course, that's how I started my story. He never got violent with me though. He just called me a schmuck.

Another humorous aspect to the story is that it was WRITTEN BY A 15 YEAR OLD. Obviously, I don't always spells things correctly or use appropriate grammar. And much, much worse is the way I wanted to sound smart by inserting fancy words from the vocabulary section of an SAT preparation book that I had. It's embarrassing and funny to me at the same time but when I typed it up, I tried to leave all of that stuff in there. So you can laugh at me with me.

Here is the link to the story. Please read it if you have time.

When I gave that story to Minnow to ask his opinion he started laughing and laughing. I thought he was laughing because it was written so poorly and I was surprised when he said he was laughing because it was funny. It was only meant to be annoying.

Anyway, that was the last day of my sophomore year and I was pleased to learn that everyone in the school brings shaving cream to have a big foam fight when they depart for summer. One redneck punk sucker-slapped me in the face with a handful of foam and I chased him to give him what-for. But he ran off and I couldn't catch him so I just yelled, "Get back here and fight like the men you dream about!"


Dr.Psycho said...

I loved the line taht went something like "except for the black cape, his black shirt, his black pants, his black mask, his black shoes, he was all dressed in puke green.

Native Minnow said...

I have to say, I'm delighted to be able to read about Eddie Rickles once again.

But, I thought there would be more bells and whistles associated with my arrival to Cow Country, considering what an eventful moment it was ;-)

AnoMALIE said...

Great story (both the one you wrote when you were 15 and the one about the short, short girl)!
My favorite thing has to be how they hold out the turtle first in the face of danger (Conan the hamster comes in a close second).

You also have a great sense of pace. I'm envious. :)

Epitome of Sweetness said...

I don't remember ever typing a story for you.
It was because I obviously didn't.
Sorry. And to think you could have gotten an A.

Epitome of Sweetness said...

Your wife will not only spit out water, but it will come out of her nose if you show her an actual PICTURE of Tony Faye while she's drinking a glass of water...

Get it on tape.

Native Minnow said...

The best part was when we basically peer-pressured Gepetto into going out with Tony Faye a year later.