Grade School Memories

8th grade pic 1

I was going through my closet the other day, and I came across this memento from 1971, right around the time of my graduation from 8th grade. (I’m not sure why I would have written the wrong dates on my memory book, but the years listed are the four years I spent in high school.)

I also realize my line for the School Yell hasn’t stood the test of time, but I’m guessing it was somewhat funny back then (at least that’s what I probably told myself).

As I paged through this book of memories, I came across this page, which listed my hobbies:

8th grade photo 4

There’s a few things to note about this list of hobbies.

  • While I never really did magic, I’ve always enjoyed watching others perform it, particularly street performers. A couple of years after this list was put together I discovered juggling, which might fall into the same broad category of magic, and that is something I certainly still enjoy doing.
  • I still enjoy bowling, and I even wrote about the role it played in my pathetic dating life in high school.
  • I continued competitive swimming all through college, and it is probably still my favorite sport; it’s a shame that it only gets publicity every four years.
  • I’ve always enjoyed brain teasers, particularly if they involved math. Four years later I did start college as a math major, but ended up with a degree in economics. I still enjoy numbers (I teach Accounting), and i usually do the Sudoku puzzle in the Sunday newspaper.
  • And what can I say about reading; it’s probably my favorite leisure time activity.

I find it amazing that I am still interested in the same things today that I was interested in 44 years ago. And I’ve read that if you are trying to find your passion (which I am), you should go back to what interested you when you were much younger, and you’ll find your passion among those interests. So perhaps I’ll have to consider these “hobbies” a little more carefully…

Anyway, the rest of the memory book is filled with notes from each of my classmates (there were only 17 of us in 8th grade). As you can imagine, such notes were filled with sayings such as “Don’t ever change” and “RMA” for Remember Me Always.

But going through the memory book has triggered a few memories that relate to this list of hobbies.

The first memory actually involves combing two of the hobbies, magic and juggling. I remember going to the local library when I was probably about 12 or 13 years old and taking out about 10 books on magic. As I was checking out, the librarian had one of the greatest one-liners I’ll ever remember, “Maybe when you are finished reading these you can make the library disappear.” To me, the line was funny on two levels; the first was just the idea of using magic to make the library disappear. The second, and perhaps more subtle humor, was of an adult complaining about her job. Perhaps I was proud of myself for picking up on the double entendre at such a young age…

The second memory was triggered when I came across the following page in my memory book:

8th grade photo 2

First, note the classic RMA. Second, note that Mary used the word “Love”; I probably obsessed on that one word for days, if not weeks, trying to read much more into it than Mary intended. But the real memory this triggers happened about four years before Mary signed my memory book. It was Valentine’s Day in fourth grade, and at least back then, the guys just gave the other guys Valentines Day cards, and it would be highly unusual to give one to a girl. Well I decided to be brave, and give a card to not only all the boys, but also to one girl, Mary. Naturally I wanted to keep this a secret, and I thought once Mary got the card, she would keep our secret. Well as it turned out, I hadn’t thought things through completely. Everyone put all of the cards in a big box, and then the teacher took them all out, read the person’s name on the envelope, and the person came up and took the card. At some point, the teacher eventually pulled my card for Mary out of the box, and lo and behold, there were two Marys in our class. So the teacher had to ask who wrote the card, and which Mary it was for. After a few seconds of awkward silence, during which I could feel my face turning bright red (Lobster Man!), I sheepishly raised my hand and said it was from me, and meant for Mary S. Now the whole class knew that I had sent a card to Mary, and that she was the only girl I had sent one to. If only I knew some magic and could have made myself disappear for a while…

The final memory deals with this page of the book:

8th grade photo 5

I’ve covered the name to protect the innocent. Anyway, seeing that page triggered memory of an event that happened about three years later. I was a junior in high school, and it was getting close to the time for the junior prom. A friend of mine asked me if I was going, and I replied that I was not going, since I did not have a date (if you are wondering why that was the case, just refer back to my list of hobbies at the top of this post). He suggested that perhaps I should ask someone to go out on a date first, and if it went well, then I could ask that girl to the prom. He even said he would help out by making it a double date. So somehow I got the courage to ask out the girl who wrote the note shown above in my memory book, and surprisingly she said yes. The big night arrived, and we went to see the movie Shampoo.

After the movie, as the four of us got into my friend’s car, my friend suggested that he would drop my date off first off at her house. He told me that when I walked her to her front door and said good night, that it would be the perfect time to ask her to the prom. So on the 10 minute drive home I kept replaying in my mind what I was going to say when we got to her house.

Well, we got to her house, my date opened her car door, and she ran into her house. I never even had a chance to get out of my seat. At least I didn’t have go through the pain of having her say “no” to my face…

So I ended up not going to my junior prom (or my senior prom for that matter), but somehow I think everything has still worked out pretty well.

Forty years later I’m able to look back on these events and see the humor.

But I still have no desire to ever see Shampoo again…

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