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April 5, 2016

Finding the right high school crowd

Laddie's high school career is winding down.  He has narrowed his college choice down to two schools.  Coach and I don't think he can go wrong.  We believe each option would prove to be a good fit for him.  Now that he has eliminated all but two avenues for college, I wish a crystal ball would appear to help us determine where he would be happiest.  Would one location lead to more lasting friendships?  Oh, if only we knew.  This process causes me to reflect back on my high school experience.  I'm assuming that this is the case because I so vividly recall searching for the right group of friends in high school.

My first few hours as a high school student were dodgy to say the least.  Moving to a new area just as high school started forced me to seek new friendships.  Finding com-padres in a sea of new people led me down a path that ultimately felt like a process of elimination.  After narrowly escaping hanging out with a girl fixated on sea monkeys, I continued my quest for a group of friends that would fit well with my interests and personality.

The next couple of girls who adopted me into their incredibly small circle weren't right for me either.  They wore so much eye makeup that had my sisters crossed paths with them they would have tossed the label 'hard' in their general direction.  At lunch one day I saw a pack of cigarettes in Aleisha's purse.  I couldn't hang with girls who smoked!  I was a goody-goody thru and thru.  What next?  I assumed there would be a happy medium somewhere between the sea monkeys and the cancer sticks.

A few weeks into school, I explained my predicament to Jessica during Algebra class.  As a student at an all girls Catholic high school, I had happily discovered the benefit of not having boys in my classes.  I felt more comfortable being myself and breaking out of my shell.  Living without a shell in high school was key, especially if I wanted to get to know my peers.  Kids in my Algebra class became familiar with me simply because I assumed the class clown role.  My math teacher appreciated my humor.  So long as I participated in a legitimately academic way, she encouraged me to add a few funny comments to the class dialogue from time to time. 

Jessica agreed that I needed to ditch my current lunch situation and we hatched a plan.  I spent the majority of my lunch period the next day ducking into a bathroom stall in the academic corridor.  I hoped that Deb would give up waiting for me, so I wouldn't feel obligated to walk with her to lunch and eat with she and Aleisha.  Jessica vowed to wait outside the bathroom for me until Deb had vacated the area.  She fished me from the stall with an all-clear sign and we began to eat together regularly.  I suppose there was a better, more mature way to handle the situation, but I didn't know how to say, 'I'm not going to hang out with you two anymore.'  Avoiding them seemed like the best solution.  This was high school after all.  Uncool perhaps, but as a straight laced teenage girl I excused my response by envisioning the pack of cigarettes in Aleisha's purse.  What else could that lead to?  Not my proudest moment, but back then there weren't any adults looming in the hallways utilizing the current popular catch phrase:  'Make good choices.'  For me, this was the best choice possible.   

After becoming acquainted with various girls, I continued to adjust who I socialized with as the year progressed.  I hardly think of myself as a climber, but starting from scratch in a brand new town meant I had to conduct research on cliques by myself.  I remained friends with Jessica and managed to branch out a bit.  Most of the girls I gravitated towards were slightly nerdy, good student types.  They all exhibited a strong sense of humor.  I steered clear of big hair, flashy wardrobes, and designer purses.  The likelihood that I would gel with that crew was not very likely.

In homeroom about a month after freshman year began, I witnessed a calculated practical joke.  A girl suggested to Fozzy that she tap an unsuspecting girl on the shoulder and ask her about her little sister's dance lessons.  A crowd of girls gathered incognito across the room aware of what was about to take place.  Fozzy played along by asking Jenna how her little sister's dance lessons were going.  Jenna slumped over her desk perfectly on cue.  Her shoulders shook as if she were crying.  Fozzy glanced around in a confused state.  'My little sister has no legs,' whispered Jenna.  Fooled by Jenna's impressive acting skills, Fozzy tried to explain herself.  She apologized profusely for two minutes until Jenna burst out laughing.  The relief Fozzy exhibited was palpable.  I wasn't involved in the sting, but I witnessed it unfold.  The victim in that memorable little charade became my closest high school friend. 

Gradually I discovered that it was possible to be friends with more than one group of girls.   Over my memorable high school years I encountered all sorts of other students thru my involvement in art club, the positions I held on student council, and a short lived basketball career.  Perhaps my status could best have been described as a floater.  Not a sea monkey floater, mind you.  Just a floater.  We anxiously await Laddie's college choice.  We hope he will not sink, but float.

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